SEEKING BALANCE ONLINE.
Is it possible to find a balance between living your life (and living it honestly) and sharing it online.
Maybe it's just the season, but it seems as though there's been a bit of a shift in the mood on instagram lately. A bit of reluctance, a bit of resistance - a push against the way it rewards us for consistency of engagement alone. Maybe we're tired of the formulas, tired of the quantity over quality mindset - I know I am.
I think for me it comes down to a need to be wholly intentional about the way I spend my time. In seeking a slightly slower lifestyle with space for plenty of creativity, I find the constant thoughtless habit of picking up my phone exhausting and a major time drain. However, I'm also trying to build a business online, and it's something that can't happen without me showing up and getting in front of the community I want to be a part of and serve.
Privacy and community - is there a balance to be sought here?
Sharing our lives online has become pretty commonplace for lots of us, and for good reason - there is so much value to be found in this community. We build connection through sharing our failings and lessons with others, as well as celebrating the wins together. The power of public accountability can be huge when it comes to setting project launch or completion dates - it gives us the motivation we need sometimes to follow through on our plans. And of course, along the way we can use that online community to source the feedback and validation that is so, so helpful when the going is a little tough on a particular passion project or creative sideline.
But, there is also value to be gained from being private about certain things. In holding things back just for ourselves, we can nurture the courage it takes to try something new - to start projects without the pressure of anyone knowing if we fail or quit - and take a quiet joy in the experience of simply being a beginner at something.
When you consider the current trend for extreme transparency and vulnerability in the online world, there is also something important to be said for allowing ourselves to privately process events and information properly, instead of skimming the surface of it and then using it for content. Authenticity is important yes, but not if it leaves you feeling exposed and disempowered.
The difference between consuming and engaging.
In my own use of social media I've noticed two very distinct mindsets - I either go on to consume, or to engage. What's really interesting is that the more passive, consuming mindset can prove just as draining (I'm very introverted, even virtually), as the more active, engaging one (involving posting and commenting instead of just scrolling).
However, when we engage instead of simply consume, we're rewarded with far more of the positives (community and support), than the negatives (comparison and demotivation).
Is it possible that the answer to striking a more positive life/social media balance lies buried somewhere inside this mindset? When we're intentional about spending our time online engaging instead of simply consuming, perhaps we can reap more of the benefits with less of the negatives.
Creativity needs a little bit of boredom.
A well topped up flow of creativity can really benefit from a lack of stimulation, but looking at our phones and computers all day is a fast way to overstimulate ourselves. Avoiding too much outside input or inspiration allows us to become more self sufficient and independent when it comes to idea generation.
When we deliberately and consciously step away from being influenced by others online, we can nurture a sense of self worth in the value of our own ideas. The creative process is sometimes a delicate beast and the rush of comparison from too much online time can easily make us feel bad or overwhelmed or very far away from our dreams.
Mindfulness and being more intentional about your time.
Ultimately, the way we spend our time shapes the person we become. For example, if you want to be a better writer you need to be consciously making the decision to be spending your time actually writing. Not talking about it, or thinking about it - but doing it. The funny thing about time is that it really has to be made rather than found. Staying mindful and intentional about our time on social media is one huge way to make more time for our real passions. It's about using social media in a way that serves us, not serving it by pouring all of our time into something that can't (however much we want it to) give that much back.
This mindset of intention can also be applied to the time we spend resting. In choosing to use social media only when we want to be active and engaging, we can be more present in the time we spend offline - actually watching a film or spending time with friends, instead of sharing it with our phones.
I don't really know what the answer is here, but I felt it might be helpful to explore some of my thoughts on the subject. Interestingly, I'm experimenting with taking a phone/social media free day at the beginning of the week, which seems to help. So, perhaps the answer lies somewhere in examining, shaping, and enforcing your own boundaries, with the hope that over time they'll become habit in their own right.
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