As some of you will know, towards to end of last year I took a break from social media, both business and personal. It started innocently enough when that irritating little alert comes up on your phone telling you the ugly truth about how much time you spend looking at your screen in one 24 hour period. I’d seen it before but for some reason, on that day, it struck a chord. I suddenly realised that I didn’t want my tomb stone to read “Here lies Jessica Haworth. Beloved wife and mother. Spent more time on social media than she did playing with her children.” And that, my friends, is the harsh but unavoidable truth. Many of us (and this was me) are sliding slowly but surely into a landscape where we know more about total strangers lives that we follow on Instagram than we do about ourselves and those closest to us. I was horrified and knew that something had to change dramatically to get me back to where I was happiest, living the best version of MY life, not of someone else’s!
I remember Facebook launching when I was at university. It seemed a weird concept when someone explained it to me and one that I wasn’t initially very keen on joining in with: “But why would I just want to look at someone normal that I already know on the internet, why wouldn’t I just text them or meet at the pub?” Incredibly, that statement (or close to it) is where I’ve ended up. I realised that the more time I lost spiralling down a black hole of endless amounts of information and imagery of other people’s lives, the less time I had to actually enjoy the real world and the things that make me truly happy. Social media was a lifeline after having my children, is a brilliant way to share information and experiences with family and friends and for people to feel more connected globally. But when it all starts to overwhelm everything, that’s the real downside of becoming slowly addicted to it, it’s so stealthy that you won’t realise the things you’re missing until you can’t fill up that slightly empty feeling. I lost interest in so many creative pursuits, found it virtually impossible to read a book (something that’s only just starting to come back). I hadn’t ‘created’ anything for months, hadn’t sung or just danced around the kitchen for no reason.
So, I went on holiday from it all. Took the applications off my phone and stopped posting apart from on LinkedIn that I continued to keep an eye on for work. I’m now back ‘online’ as it were but in a much more limited way. I haven’t reinstalled many of the apps on my phone and largely my social media interactions are purely for work now. The funny thing is, I don’t miss it. I thought I would crave it and feel I was missing out somehow but in fact it has just been liberating. I’ve been able to spend much more time focusing on direct human interaction and on the passions that light me up every day. I absolutely see the benefit of social media but I would counsel moderation. Don’t lose yourself in it and forget who you wanted to be. The irony is, when I work with clients, I remind them that they are enough, they have the tools already to be spectacular. Our work isn’t about trying to be someone else but simply to be the best possible version of YOU. I lost myself for a while but I’m back and ready to write the next chapter.
Judy Garland once said,
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”
So that’s the message I’ll be leading with not just for my clients, but for myself too.