Switch off to switch on.
Why do people post on Instagram? Maybe to promote themselves or to gain followers, to document daily occurrences in the form of a diary, or to create a gallery of beautiful photos.
Last night, I went with my mum and sister to see Sandi Toksvig’s stand-up show and left with my brain ticking. She made the genius comparison of us today, in this connected world, Vs a time in the not-so-distant past when we didn’t have smartphones or an addiction to social media. Back then, constantly checking your phone over and over would be akin to opening your front door every two minutes to see if anyone was there or not. Utter madness.
I don't want to give up social media because I enjoy writing and sharing my thoughts, it almost feels therapeutic. But what Sandi said has made me rethink social media, work out why I use it, how it makes me feel and how a little change might be a good thing.
One of the main reasons I really got into Instagram around two years ago was because I was lonely. As someone who used to work in a busy London office, with a big team, I found becoming a mum and being at home just me and my son extremely isolating. I had thrived in an office, enjoying new challenges, creativity and organisation, always talking to people (the team, the editor, agencies and freelancers who phoned me daily wanting to pitch me stories) and of course, the banter.
I left office life to become a freelance journalist in 2015, but I didn’t notice the loneliness then. It only hit me when my role changes, when I went on maternity leave. But now when I'm working from home, (more often than not recently), I am finding the world a lonely place once again. I have had days when I’ve posted on my stories just to break up the monotony of my day and to feel as though I am sharing with others. I love what I do for a living - writing and selling - but in between, I get bored of having just myself, (and maybe This Morning or the radio) for company.
As part of her show, Sandi was encouraging us all, her audience, to celebrate living and assured us that the best thing about life and the key to happiness was to get our brains working and to be around others. We need to actually BE with people, not just look at photos of their lives on a screen. She dared us to switch off our phones for a day and to connect with those around us instead of constantly checking our notifications.
Maybe we have slipped, voluntarily or not, into this mad, connected world and are struggling to make our way out. Maybe using social media isn't always the best way to cure boredom or loneliness. It can act as a huge support to us at certain times, but I now realise that getting out of the house, going to the shops and just chatting to someone you've never met is better. Getting together with a friend or joining a class and meeting new people gives you the chance to connect face-to-face and will lift your head and heart far more effectively than scrolling through a feed online.
I could never give up my phone and I won't give up Instagram - yet - but maybe I will switch off my phone for a day this weekend. Maybe I will try something new this week, get talking to someone and get my brain ticking to bat off feelings of loneliness, boredom or procrastination. Sandi's words have certainly given me food for thought and I never realised I was hungry - until now!