When I found out that any possibility of getting a wifi connection in Cuba was sketchy at best, I reluctantly resigned myself to being on a complete social media and internet detox. I didn’t think I needed one, in fact I was a little indignant at first, googling ‘how to get wifi in Cuba’ and making notes of all the best search results. The prospect of a week without the ability to see whatever information I wanted at the tap of my finger was kind of daunting, as any question I have that pops into my head I’m used to googling and getting the answer for straight away. I can’t read a map for shit and am heavily reliant on Maps on my phone to get me from A – B when I’m somewhere I don’t know.
But then I began to realise what a great opportunity this would be for me. On holiday I’m usually sat on my sun bed browsing Facebook or Instagram and staying so on top of things I run out of posts to refresh. I’m so reliant on my phone that I tap away nonsensically at it when I’m bored. It’s become a habit for me that I’ve really wanted to break as I believe it makes me so unproductive and has given me a much shorter attention span than I ever had at school or Uni.
There’s also a huge pressure in the blogging world to post beautiful photos that compliment your feed, with a thought-provoking and funny caption and then the appropriate hashtags to make it appear somewhere within the black-hole that is today’s Instagram algorithm. To be perfectly honest, the algorithm has really screwed up my engagement and I get anxiety when I post now, because of how much pressure there is in the blogging world to get the highest engagement possible on every photo. Nowadays low engagement seems to indicate bought followers – which I have never done, yet the engagement rates on my pictures would certainly make you think I didn’t have an entirely genuine account. It upsets me, a lot. So I decided that a week off from agonising about engagement rates and posting picture perfect snaps would probably do me some good.
And so we flew off to Cuba. As soon as the plane landed, I went to pick up my phone and quickly remembered I would have absolutely nothing to check as there was no 3G! It did make me feel a little restless… is that a withdrawal symptom? I really didn’t think I was that addicted, was I?
As soon as we got to our hotel we noticed loads of people sat in the lobby on their phones. That could only mean one thing… WIFI! Half of me whooped for joy, while the other grimaced at the failed prospect of my digital detox. I decided to set myself a limit of logging in once a day, to send messages to James and my family and not sit mindlessly on Instagram for hours at a time. Luckily, the Wifi signal was weak at best, so there really wasn’t much chance of me spending too long on it when the pool and the beach beckoned us so temptingly.
Three MAJOR Things I Learned From My Digital Detox
1. I compare myself and berate myself too much.
Although I had a slight inkling that I might be happier without the influence of social media in my every day life, I surprised myself at how much this was actually true. Without the images and statuses of other bloggers’ seemingly perfect lives and amazing opportunities serving as a constant reminder of how I wasn’t anywhere near my goal of blogging full time, I stopped feeling so constantly bad about myself.
‘Comparison is the killer of confidence’
‘The only person you should compete with is you’
‘Don’t compare everyone else’s highlight reel with your behind the scenes’
These mantras have been in my psyche for years now, but no matter how much I repeat them, I do still compare myself – on a subconscious level to where I think and want to be. I work hard on my blog, I spend hours editing photos, perfecting videos and crafting helpful and honest articles about my experiences – but the blogging world is competitive and so does everyone else. Why are some people more popular on social media than others? I don’t think it’s because their content is necessarily better, although I admire much of the work that many of those at the top of their game put out. It’s almost like a digital popularity contest now, and it feels like I’m back at school when I’m on the internet. I was always the slightly quirky one who didn’t fit in with the most popular girls and was never the one that all the boys fancied.
We all have our insecurities, and for me it’s that my best is never good enough.
After 3 years of writing and hard work, the organic traffic to my blog has hugely increased and incrementally increases every month, so I know I’m doing something right – I guess it just doesn’t translate across to social media like I thought it would.
I realised I need to stop focusing so much on how my social media channels were performing and instead concentrate on growing my blog with the best content possible. I enjoy writing and I enjoy creating visual content. Getting likes isn’t the reward for this, it’s my own satisfaction at my work and when anyone does comment who finds it useful, then what a wonderful feeling it is to have positively helped somebody.
I’m sure this feeling applies to many bloggers at all different levels or stages in their careers. You might have great engagement, but not many followers. May have many followers, but not so much web traffic.
I think the key is to play to your strengths and not focus so much on what you consider your weaknesses to be.
2. I Need To Unfollow Some People…
When Facebook and Instagram first came out, they were brilliant platforms to share our lives with friends and stay up to date with them. Nowadays every social media platform is being monetised, either by the tech giants themselves or the companies that pay influencers to promote their products.
As users we are CONSTANTLY being advertised to and thus, the entire experience of going on social media has changed completely. In some ways, what makes matters worse for me, is that social media and marketing is my day job so I’m constantly exposed to this anyway.
Advertising is designed to make us covet what others have. It’s supposed to programme the receptors in our brains to desire bags and shoes and material things we never knew we wanted. Until we saw them on our Instagram feed in the most perfectly positioned flat lay or on the longest, shapeliest, tannest legs there ever were.
Bloggers, especially the more successful ones who are getting paid absolutely loads to do promos are now not only posting their cute new Missguided dress, but their never ending purchases of Givenchy bags, closets full of Louboutins and endless displays of wealth that are just so unobtainable for the majority of people.
Don’t get me wrong – I like nice things just as much as the next person, but in the social media and blogging world it’s like one new bag is never enough. In the real world, you’ll save hard and buy yourself those expensive designer shoes as a huge treat. But in social media ‘influencer’ world, there’s seemingly some new arm candy every other day. You do not have to try and keep up, but being head strong enough to not feel pangs of envy is hard work in this digital world, especially when you’re constantly exposed to material possessions on your newsfeed.
If it’s grinding you down, then I know how you feel. It’s maybe time to unfollow those accounts that are making you feel inadequate. Social media should be there to help, inspire and keep you connected – not to incite feelings of self-despair.
3. It’s OK to take time off
As bloggers and especially for me as a travel blogger, I sometimes feel like I don’t get a holiday. Every time I go away, I’m snapchatting, Instagramming or tweeting what I’m up and making content for Youtube or my blog. Taking time to switch off from the digital world isn’t the end of life! It actually can engage your brain and give you a new found motivation and energy to really give your blog your all again.
I was terrified to not post on Instagram for a week as I was sure that the algorithm would make my engagement even lower after my brief hiatus. To be honest, after a week away from the digital world this no longer feels like such a big deal and that in itself is a huge relief.
Writing all of this down feels like a detox in itself. I never realised until just now how much this whole business of social media insecurity has been bothering me and I’m hoping that I can now continue this positive mental attitude now that i’m back in the UK.
When you’re unsatisfied it daily life it can sometimes make you turn to the digital world for pure escapism. I’m aiming to make my life as fulfilling as possible, so I can work on being the best version of me and not comparing myself to where I think I should be.
How do you feel about this post? Are you a blogger with the same problems? Let me know, as I’d like us to help each other grow a strong and supportive community for us all.