I’ve been doing a little experiment for the past two months: I’ve pretty much gone offline*. I wanted to observe the effects on me – on my world, my thinking and my creativity.
Here are six things that I have found…
1. It’s been painfully hard to do
I suspected going offline would be a challenge, as I knew I’d built a lot of my identity into my pretty little Instagram feed over the years.
What I didn’t expect was the intense – at times physical – discomfort of being parted from something that I had clearly come to crave.
2. I felt lonely
Well, duh: cut yourself off from everyone online and what do you expect? I know.
But I did want to see how real life felt without all that online gloss, and if I’m honest? Looking around me at life without all the stat-highs and follower-buzz led to quite the crash: because my life, for the most part, is incredibly ordinary.
And I couldn’t help but wonder if we, as human beings, are not better suited to life in those uneventfully still waters?
3. My creativity changed
I came to scrapbooking at the height of the online ‘work your brand’ thing. So to switch to creating privately, with the sole purpose of enjoying the activity, was quite the change.
The effects of ceasing to post and interact on my Instagram algorithms was surprisingly obvious, but making just for the joy of making? I liked it an *awful* lot.
Losing the sunshine of interactions with the scrapbooking community though, has been the *major* downside of this experiment.
I’ve been emailing my scrap besties, but when you silence the rest of that delightful paper-obsessed chatter, you feel the loss of it’s sweetness.
My youtube process and podcast consumption went through the roof – perhaps as an attempt to feel just a little bit part of things.
4. I’ve been uncomfortably challenged
One upshot of not socialising online is that you’re forced to get out there and mix with real people. Because we’re created for interaction and I felt the blues creeping in, pretty much the moment I disconnected.
I actually found getting out there so challenging, that I wondered if my obsession with the ‘hiding behind a screen’-me, had resulted in an erosion of confidence in the real-life me.
I also questioned whether my commitment to creating ‘online sparkle’ masked a deeper unhappiness and dissatisfaction that I hadn’t been prepared to face.
5. The ordinary gained more significance
Taking away the excitement of knowing that I had an online audience appeared to leave me with a greater appreciation for the depth of ordinary moments.
You know that exhilarating moment when the postman comes and he *might* have something for you? I felt like I’d been functioning at that point of excitement all day, every day for a very long time: seeking out that thrilling chemical high of being liked and approved of.
Take that (exhausting) mode of being away, and little lovely things can better have their moment in the sun. Which is nice, you know?
Because beauty’s everywhere and it’s perhaps only when your inner life quietens down that you really start appreciating it again.
6. Life can just be life again
Turn social media off and you stop looking at life for it’s Instagram potential.
Because life’s not a consumable experience, ready to be packaged and re-sold for it’s ability to make your name better known.
It’s been good for me to stop looking at my world through a square-shaped invisible lens, seeking out anything with pastel-hued popularity-potential.
It’s been good for me to force myself to see my world for what it is: a beautiful, messy, confusing mixture of moments and meaning – which is, at the end of the day, all any of us really ever have.
* My online activity has been limited to posting some Instagram photos and writing blog posts, both to fulfil my Design Team commitments.