Do you ever feel like you want to take a break from the internet? Ever feel the need to hole yourself away in some kind of peaceful commune, living 1980s style in a land without Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and Google+, Instagram and blogs?
Because I do.
I’ve been feeling it a lot more recently. Maybe it’s because it seems the entire world is online these days, or maybe it’s because my own particular community of bloggers feels really busy right now. Or maybe it’s because – and this isn’t entirely my fault – I’m simply spending too much time on the internet.
I am self-employed. I earn my crust as a broadcaster for a commercial radio brand, a writer for various publications and a blogger. Every single one of these sources of income involves being online. For radio, I run the morning Twitter and Facebook feeds. For blogging – well that’s kind of obvious. And for writing, much of the places that publish my work are online magazines. And, amongst all of this, many of my clients (for blogging, presentations and workshops, copywriting etc etc etc) find me online. If the internet didn’t exist, neither would much of my work.
That said, I know I’m not alone in this. Many of us rely on some kind of online presence these days to earn an income. This is normal in our digital, multiple social media platformed world. It’s a world I’ve been heavily active in for more than two years now, since I first started blogging. So why am I suddenly so tired of it?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to delete my blog or take a year long Twitter sabbatical. I’m just wondering if there isn’t some way I could re-ignite the passion, so to speak. I love writing this blog, it’s my own personal corner of the internet. All mine. I love every single element of my work – the radio, the writing, the interaction with other people – it’s just that sometimes it all feels a bit, well, loud.
Whenever I try to explain blogging and Facebook and Twitter to my mum, I say it’s like being in a room full of people. You have to interact and chat with the other people in that room to get anything out of the experience. But, just as in real life, you get other people with loud voices and their own conversational interests. That means that, sometimes, being online can feel a bit shouty.
On shouty days, rather than sharing the amazing things going on in other people’s lives and feeling inspired by the incredibly creative types out there, I feel intimidated and exhausted. On those days I feel like I can’t be bothered to interact, because everyone is shouting louder than me and I won’t get heard anyway. That kind of negativity isn’t healthy for anyone – and it’s certainly not “me”. I like to think I’m a naturally positive, happy person. I don’t like feeling tired and apathetic.
So I’ve come up with a few rules to try and combat the social media fatigue. Going offline for a while isn’t an option for me, because of my work, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution to make me feel enthused again.
- Limit my time online – It’s one thing taking the odd Instagram shot and another spending a full 30 minutes on Twitter while your child attempts to play with you. I don’t want to be *that* mum. So from now on, rather than worry someone might think I’m rude if I don’t reply to a tweet and engage in a conversation, I’m just going to put my phone away and not look at it. After all, Twitter won’t die if I ignore it for a while.
- Do one thing at a time – If I’m writing, then I’m writing. I won’t have Tweetdeck open at the same time and I won’t just pop over to Facebook to check I’m not missing anything. Whether it’s a piece of commercial copy, a feature or a blog post, I want to have a clear mind while I’m typing. And that’s why, from now on, I’m going to focus on one thing at a time.
- Have dedicated social media black-out periods – Friday and Saturday nights tend to be the two evenings when I spend proper quality time with the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine. If I’m with him, or with my friends, then I’m going to make a concerted effort not to have my phone within tapping distance.
- Learn that I’m not missing out – I have been known to get twitchy if I haven’t checked my emails, my Twitter feed, my Facebook notifications for a full day. I worry that the world may have stopped turning for 24 hours and I’ll be the last to know. This is stupid. If people need me that badly they can ring or text. And if I miss some kind of online spat or juicy celeb gossip then who cares? I mean, seriously – it just doesn’t matter. At all.
How do you combat social media fatigue? Any more ideas for me?