Publishing my last article took me two and a half years because it’s not easy to share such personal thoughts. At the same time, I can’t imagine this blog just being a showcase for pretty photos, trips and beautiful things. My life is also about that, but not only. It is also full of unexpected problems, mixed feelings, concern for my children, just like everyone else’s. But when we focus too much on positive aspects, we sometimes get the wrong impression about other people’s lives and feel frustrated about our own.
In short, as I told you in my last post, handling my smartphone has long been a concern: the screen absorbs me, enslaves me and even, at times, makes me feel anxious. When I’m nervous, I check it even more and my anxiety grows. When I realized this, I started changing things: I blocked all the notifications (can someone in their right mind survive notifications?); I set a time limit for instagram (the fruit of sin); I tried to limit the moments when my children see me checking my mobile…
Even so, my relationship with my smartphone, especially with social media, was still weird: it gave me many joys and occasions to contact people I would have never met otherwise, but it also created a lot of frustration. Let’s be honest, the fact that the algorithm displays a picture of you and it’s liked is a dopamine shot. When nobody looks at your picture the next day, it’s almost impossible not to feel some disappointment – am I right?
This summer I read Marian Rojas’ book « Cómo hacer que te pasen cosas buenas” and one of the topics she deals with best is the effects of social media on the brain and our hormone levels. It’s huge and totally scientific: we’ve become slaves to the dopamine provided by « likes ». Taking into account all this and the fact that I am too old to let these things go on too long, I one day decided to delete all the social media apps on my phone. When I told my husband, he snorted sarcastically and told me I wasn’t going to survive more than two days.
The fact is that I did for almost two months – and it was actually hard to get back online again. I am writing this, dear readers, to reassure you: there is hope. The experience wasn’t really as bad as I wrote in my last post because, if social media really is an addiction, I didn’t suffer from withdrawal symptoms. On the contrary. Not needing to post anything, comment, react to comments, automatically check the app fifty times a day (or more…) made me experience a pleasant feeling of calm and freedom. It was also a relief to see that I was not as “addicted” as it seemed to me. I guess if you give up smoking you feel a huge urge to have a cigarette for the first few days, don’t you? I would be lying if I told you that it wasn’t hard not to share the wonderful places we visited this summer, but that was it. That was the end of my addiction.
This summer, I got up every day to do a little yoga, swim, and run (two days). I read. I played (more) with my kids. I laughed a lot with my family and friends. And, I’m going to confess something: that’s what I’ve always done. Social media never stopped me from doing all the things I always used to do. But this summer I made them without noise. Without distractions. At the end of the holidays, it was very hard for me to decide what to do. When I uploaded instagram again, I had several messages from families who wanted a foto session with me and I hadn’t replied for weeks. I was happy to see the photos of my favorite accounts again and I filled with gratitude that people had cared about my absence. I had also lost almost 200 followers.
But, you know what, I no longer care. The digital detox time made me realize what matters and what doesn’t. The number of followers and likes doesn’t matter. Instagram censorship policy (they deleted two photos of my children and my friends’ children in a bathing suit because you could see a nipple or two) doesn’t matter. Bots and buying followers, all that doesn’t matter. Authenticity and sharing matter. Learning matters. Supporting each other on children’s education, for example, matters.
In conclusion, I encourage you to take the step of disconnecting for a while and realize the absurdity of being hyper-connected 24 hours a day. I also encourage you to come online again, but as a much more conscious user.
(By the way, I’m showing you some pictures of our holiday in Portugal, because I can’t resist depriving you of them!)