I find it difficult to make “New Year’s Resolutions”. I’m constantly fabricating them throughout the year anyway.
I’ve always made time to reflect, especially as the seasons change. I never stop asking questions about my life and the path I’m currently walking. On one hand, this can make me an extremely irritating and inconsistent person to be around, but in truth, it’s the only thing that allows me to be honest to myself and pursue my inner desires. Life is far too short to spend one tiny single second doing anything you don’t love. That’s why I believe nothing is more healthy than regularly stopping, re-evaluating, and asking yourself… am I completely happy?
I am aware that not everyone’s brain works this way. It’s normally just today (on January 1st) that we pause for contemplation. Many of you reading this will have already decided on those intentions – diets, career plans, relationship ambitions, exercise regimes. You will all be setting goals and sticking (or very much not sticking) to them.
I think in 2017, one of the aspects of our lives we should all be re-evaluating is our connection to social media.
As well as writing about tattoos, I am a digital marketing consultant. Today’s social channels are absolutely vital for any brands or businesses wanting to access potential customers and followers. The concept that we can reach other human beings across the globe instantly with our messages is phenomenal. I am currently working on an article for a tattoo magazine about how artists can, and why they should, utilise these networks to promote their work.
Without my own feeds, I simple wouldn’t be where I am now. I couldn’t have spread the word about my own blog (Inkluded), secured any of my current freelance projects or even met some of my now closest friends. This piece of writing is not intended to simply bash media and technology. That which is now indispensable to us, if used correctly, can create opportunity, spread beautiful messages, bring communities together and a whole lot more. Inkluded reached nearly 40,000 people on Facebook last month, and that fact sits proudly in our advertising pack.
That being said, as our webs of social connection grow, as individuals we must find moments to stop, log-out, and re-consider our initial ambitions and intentions with these digital platforms that we use every day. Are we only reaping positive rewards from our social media profiles, or do any carry negativity? Are they fulfilling everything mentioned above – connections, friendships, success? Are they truly bringing us more good than bad?
I put these exact questions to myself six months ago, following a philosophical Prosecco-fulled chat in the sunshine with one of my closest friends. With our smartphones firmly tucked away in our bags, we asked, why do we all use social media? We debated this for a good few hours and as soon as I returned home, I weighed up the pros and cons in my head.
My own pros, what I loved about social media, was that it brought me unfathomably close to the tattooed community, something imperative for my job and passions. As a writer, it gave me platforms to send out words to the world. It actually encouraged me to be creative every day. It inspired me.
Then, the cons. It was often overwhelming juggling so many communication channels. Working for other brands as well as myself, at one point I counted me running 13 different Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles. But really, manageable-freelance-busyness aside, it was actually only my personal profiles that I was emotionally tied to, that ever created worry, jealously or insecurity. They had a tendency to fuel anxious thoughts, to encourage me to dwell on the opinions of others – make that which wasn’t personal to me, about me. I spent way too much time looking at my phone. Quite often I forgot conversations with my boyfriend or the ending to a movie we would watch, and I knew this was directly related to not being able to switch-off from the social world at my fingertips.
I then debated the pros and cons of each individual medium. Facebook seemed to tick almost every item in the cons list. I found Twitter beneficial for professional conversation and so it admittedly stood at a distance from my emotions. Instagram, again, often fuelled negative consequences yet I knew it had the potential to achieve positive. Designed primarily as an inspiring art-sharing platform, it can allow photographers, writers, artists and deep-thinkers to thrive.
I made a plan – a social media detox. The next day I deleted my Facebook and Instagram profiles. I started a shiny new Instagram account but decided to run it like a strict brand with clear creative objectives that I was able to distance myself from. I’d gotten to a point in my life where I was sharing huge chunks of my experiences on all of these different channels – every holiday photo, every event, every birthday, and some things that weren’t even remotely interesting. We just get into the habit and don’t know how to stop once we’ve started. Having a social re-think and re-fresh allowed me to start from scratch and re-evaluate my intentions. Consider what I did (and didn’t) want or even needed to share.
And I have never looked back since. Dedicating myself to only using Instagram as a creative outlet has allowed me to re-kindle interests I’d forgotten. Long photography-fuelled walks through the forest, quiet moments of reflection and meditation. I am focused on my own art rather than catching-up on the lives of others.
I now devote energy primarily to things that make me feel good, things that matter, and things that will benefit me and my career in the long run. Many tattoo contacts that in the past existed as Facebook thumbnails are now numbers in my phone. I text more. I pick the phone up to make calls. I don’t waste time on things that won’t effect the grand scheme of my life, for example, the holiday snaps of someone I haven’t spoken to in 15 years and will unlikely see again. I am now consciously aware of how much time I am spending on my phone. I’m more organised. I remember film endings.
It was only through being aware of my own need to make change, that I was able to make change. There may be nothing on your ‘cons list’. That’s great. Then you don’t really need to read this article. But if you are like me, and you do have items in the negative column, if you’re feeling more anxious and don’t know why, if you’ve developed insecurities you didn’t even know existed inside of you… the time may have come for you to re-evaluate your relationship to technology.
Since deleting my personal Facebook profile, the engagement on Inkluded’s page has significantly increased. I’m using the time I spent scrolling through the News Feed rants of others, to share tattoo art on our business page. And here’s the best bit…
You don’t miss anything.
You’ll find other ways to keep in contact with key groups and conversations. I can’t count on two hands the number of times I’ve heard the phrase from my friends, “oh that’s right, you’re not on Facebook anymore are you?” So, the second best bit…
No one misses you (sorry, but they don’t).
The important people will find ways to stay connected to you through other methods. Those who drop off… well, if it was only an app’s strings holding you together, you can stop and question what that says about your relationship with them, and whether they were important.
I realise I’ve allowed one huge piece of writing to say something so seemingly insignificant. She’s deleted one of her 13 different social accounts, BIG DEAL. But to some people, it is a big deal. I’ve shared these thoughts verbally with other friends who in the last few months have then gone on to delete particular apps after realising that they too, needed that small change for themselves. And I’m sure it’s a big deal too for more than just my three pals. The time we’re spending on social media is dramatically increasing. Many charities, publications and organisations would argue that social media is continuously becoming a mental health risk, especially for the younger generation.
For once, let’s think about ourselves and our desires, rather than other people. Every single individual on this planet is different. Who are you? How are you using social media? How does it make you feel? Like I said, I’m not suggesting that we blow up our computers and go live in the woods*, just that we ask ourselves some much needed questions about what we are doing, and why we are doing it.
*I’m game if you are…
Categories: Tattoo Thoughts