Feature by Lucy Wylie
It seems as if the world we live in is plagued by one crisis after another. In these unprecedented times, many people are staying connected with the luxury of the internet, through social media in particular. There are so many advantages to the connections we maintain with others via social media, it feels as if any disadvantages would be heavily outweighed by everything good the internet is doing for us.
Social media has been rife with ‘challenges’ since their popularity emerged in 2013 with almost nostalgic to memory dares like neknominate and planking. In the same way we view these terms like a trip down memory lane, surely 10 years from now the complications of today will be tossed around like old wives’ tales. The internet just moves on so damn quickly.
It’s this yesterday’s news ideology that everyone who uses social media endures, and what makes it so hard to feel relevant. Personal ordeals such as how someone is keeping busy during social isolation are blasted into public eye in an almost competitive way. Productivity seems like the word of the hour at the moment, and where better to compete in the productivity race then Instagram?
This example burrows down to the strangely innate problem of social media, ever since the introduction of the like button and followers. For such an arbitrary, senseless reward, likes and followers prove to be a very strong motivator, and something that I can admit to falling victim to.
Personally, a big problem I’ve been experiencing is unhealthy sleep. In fact, that would be an overstatement, my sleep was non-existent at worst and insufficient at best. I’ve done the research, meaning a google search here and there and plenty of YouTube videos from people who probably know less than myself.
The answer to my problem appeared to be something called blue light, meaning the light my phone and laptop produces is what’s causing my insomnia. Then I discovered the screen time app my phone has, which let me know in a particularly bad-mannered fashion I was using my phone 4 hours a day. The next day it was 5 hours, and then I wasn’t so surprised I was feeling unproductive.
On countless occasions I found myself opening up my phone just to forget why I even picked it up in the first place. It’s easy to lose motivation during these times, and I discovered just how easy it was to lose 5 hours of a day to staring at my phone.
To put the record straight, I’m not one of those anti-tech crazies that thinks some sort of mass exodus of smart phones should occur, I’m just someone who found themselves feeling something close to panic when my phone wasn’t within a metre. I’m just someone who counted my Instagram likes as if they were some sort of appropriate measure of my self-worth.
The emphasis on staying connected in these times is so strong, it feels almost criminal to not be available on seconds notice through Facebook. As if staying connected is a mental health standard, well I would argue the opposite. In my experience the days I am disconnected, or not replying to messages, or not posting updates to my subpar amount of Instagram followers, those are the days I am feeling my best.
In an attempt to not join the ranks of competitive isolation comparisons, I have spent a lot of my quarantine in the outdoors and reconnecting with nature, which I forgot how much I loved. How freeing it was to leave my phone at home and walk through the bush without any urgency.
It’s easy to forget how to live without urgency, it’s easy to forget how healing life can be. I guess one thing I’ve learnt during this time is how to unlearn some of my bad habits. Unlearning that my purpose will probably not be fulfilled through Instagram likes, through being better than someone else, through comparing myself to irrelevant criteria.
It’s easy to preach but harder to practice, though I’ve realised disconnected does not equate to reclusive or antisocial. Really, choosing to not be connected as often as I somehow feel is necessary has been the healthiest decision I’ve made during this time.