Recently I suffered a traumatic event that was only able to have come to light due to social media. It wasn’t good news, but at least the truth came out.
This got me thinking of how social media can be both a blessing and a curse for our personal lives. And how offline is the new luxury.
I mean we run a digital marketing agency specialising in social media. Around 40% of our revenue comes from offering social media related services. So of course I'm an advocate. At least from a business perspective.
But being an advocate and standing for something also comes with great responsibility. I’m also currently studying the company directors course which is all about Government, social responsibility, stopping and reviewing if what you are currently doing is still ‘right’. Just because it was, doesn’t mean it always will be.
I do still believe social media can be fantastic for both business and enriching our lives. But like anything, it can also have a downside. That is simply the balance of life. What goes up, must come down. Without sadness there is no happiness and all that jazz.
Let’s choose to start with the positives (which I believe we always should in life):I love that through social media how families can be brought together and keep up with daily victories and funnies (however big or small), friends and family near and far can keep connected, celebrate promotions, new babies, engagements, arrange gatherings, support one another when they need it and commiserate the passing of someone beloved, illness and injury.
I love the different perspectives we can gain from being more connected with people whose values we share or every day people, and not just sourcing information from the Government or media (having been a journalist I know only too well, there is always a back story and always an angle taken that will sell).
From being connected on social media we can gain on the ground footage from a news event, we can see money raised for someone desperately in need, new products launched and people fulfilling their dream of going from startup to global online retailer and more.
There’s many more positives, but they’re a quick few that come to mind for me when bashing out a quick blog post.
But what about the negatives?
I found this quote recently that resonated with me.
When you’ve had bad news from online, I mean really, really bad, you may just want to switch off and retreat. But when your job requires you to be online, it’s tough. When people that you don’t want to hear from you keep contacting you, it takes a great amount of resolve not to look, let alone respond. You have to put up a veritable offline moat around yourself to survive the attack of your sacred sanity castle.
Being a parent and looking out for your kids requires you to be online. Doing bloody bank transactions requires you to be online, being offline is indeed a new luxury. That you have to fight for.
So how do you indulge in the offline luxury?
Recently I did my best to have a digital detox in Bali. One week. Minimal posting. No social scrolling. No sugar. No coffee. No alcohol. No meat. Yoga. Massages. Down time. Much needed and self imposed, with the much appreciated support of a friend. I did come back mentally stronger. Everyone needs to charge the emotional batteries every now and then. You’d only be human if work, kids, financials, relationships, life is wearing you down.
So to achieve this luxury (and even if you don’t pine for it, try it, challenge yourself, see how it changes you), you have to plan for it. Fight for it. Make it happen. Be brave and go where there is no signal. Place 'do not disturb' status on contacts on your phone that you don’t want to hear from (I only discovered this feature during this recent event).
Place a timer on your phone that won’t allow you between hours or whole days that you do not wish to be disturbed. Place self imposed restrictions on your impulse to check notifications or scroll. If your life can afford you the luxury.
I can’t help but think if I lived three generations ago, in a small village, in a simple life, where I knew everyone, and they knew me, how ignorance due to the lack of connectivity might have been bliss. We all know our generation lives with a higher amount of anxiety, depression, suicide and more, than any generation before. And they had wars and actual depressions to suffer! We live in the most privileged time in history, but we feel the weakest.
I don’t even know what my real point is for this blog post. It’s more of a muse than an articulation and conclusion. Like everyone, if I were honest, I'm still figuring a lot of stuff in my life out. Aren't we all?
But what I do know is that being offline is a luxury. And I’ll be indulging in it more often.