I love the internet! It can be such an incredible source of inspiration, learning, sharing but it can also be a huge source of frustration (stop comparing your life to other's instagram!), distraction (do I really need to read about your make-up routine filled with advertising?). It's not a new subject that we are overwhelmed with information. Images, news, endless shares, bla bla bla there is simply too much noise. It's easy to blame "these times", "the internet" or "facebook" for feeling overwhelmed but in the end we are of course the only responsible for how much "information" we let enter our lives.
For some time I feared having a smartphone would make me obsessed with being connected 24/7 and whilst it isn't as serious as I expected, recently I started to feel uncomfortable about it. Taking care of a small baby keeps you busy whole day but also the day is filled with lots of snippets of "free" time (breastfeeding, naps, mat playtime etc) when the easiest is to simply reach for your phone and update your Instagram feed, your email inbox, your facebook wall, your blog feed, etc. I realised I was doing it much more than before and honestly it wasn't bringing any good to my life. I got frustrated with my facebook wall, I got bored with Instagram, I felt a pressure to share photos everyday but I didn't want to annoy everyone with boring baby pictures and I got overwhelmed with the amount of posts unread.
So I decided to experiment to cut back my media consumption and for the whole month of January do not check or update my Instagram account, my facebook wall and my blog feed (I use Feedly on phone and desktop) and here's my report from the trenches!
First... did I succeed? Yes but not really... I checked Facebook and Instagram maybe 3 or 4 times which I consider a great achievement but Feedly was a bit different story.
Facebook was very easy to loose interest and the addiction. The moment you stop feeding your wall the comments and likes disappear and other than keeping me updated with the life of friends who live far away from me it's mostly only distraction going on in there. Oh yes, and I forgot lots of birthdays too.
Instagram I thought I was going to miss but really I didn't! You go figure. It was also liberating to not feel the pressure to "share". I missed some people (whose feeds I devoured on February 1st!) and realised I didn't miss a lot of others that I promptly unfollowed.
Now Feedly, Feedly, I am such a blogs fan, I knew this would be the hardest! And... it was January when everyone posts about goals and motivation which I love. So I failed at completely avoiding blogs. The major reason for not succeeding in my blockage was that, these days, I mostly read my blog feeds while I'm breastfeeding and while I was able to replace the phone with a book during the day, at night and dawn when I can't turn on the light it is simply great to be able to read something instead of staring at the wall in the dark (a beautiful portray of motherhood, right?).
But! I introduced some new reading rules which helped me out. First I didn't have to read them all. There are loads of blog I follow which have some content I don't really care, for example DIY or some recipes so I would simply delete without reading. I know this sound utterly ridiculous but it was good to feel free not to read every single post that enters my feed. Second, no saving posts to read later. It was read now or delete. Some days I would just simply delete all the unread posts by the end of the day, so nice to have a fresh feed the morning after. Also be mindful of only reaching for the phone at night/dawn. During the day grab that book during a nursing session! With this it was still a massive reduction of time spent reading blogs.
And... how did it feel?
Great, so great! Much calmer, less anxious. Much less screen time so I guess my eyes thanked it as well. I read more (physical books), I wrote more and I thought more, instead of trying to fill every second of my existence with some bit of information. But what I was most surprised about was the calm and peace it brought into my mind.
What about now? Now, don't get me wrong, I still love Instagram, Facebook and reading blogs. And I don't plan in eliminating them completely. But this experience showed me it is good to limit the daily usage. So I'm only checking Facebook on the desktop maybe once every couple of days. I check Instagram only once, twice a day and don't feel the urge to update my feed. I'm still reading my blogs often but trying to limit the number of daily checks!
I really recommend giving this experiment a try if you're feeling overwhelmed with information.
Edit: Some further reading: http://joannagoddard.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/how-often-do-you-check-your-phone.html and where I got the inspiration for this experience: http://jasondoesstuff.com/social-media-detox-recap/