Writing from 41.325° N, 19.457° E
I’m sick of technology.
*cue audible gasp from the crowd* — A millennial? Sick of technology?? Didn’t your generation emerge from the womb live streaming on Instagram?
I need a break. For a while now, I’ve been continuing to burn out (some days more quickly than others), and I kept thinking it was from all the travel. While I definitely do need a break from packing up and moving on every few days, I think what I need more is a break from documenting it.
For the past month or so, I’ve hated taking photos. This is a big contrast from the rest of my 9+ months abroad, when I wanted endless photographic evidence of the amazing places I had seen.
I wanted to remember everything later on.
But what about actually experiencing it now?
To give myself some credit, I am not addicted to my phone, and spend far less time on social media than many people I’ve met. I don’t take my phone out when I’m having a conversation or sitting at the dinner table or spending time with someone new. My cell has been on airplane mode since September, so I only use it on WiFi.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t negatively affecting my everyday life.
NOTE: I am not hating on social media at all. I love it as a means to keep in touch with people — especially being so far away from most of my friends and family — and it’s even a big part of my work for several clients. It is deeply ingrained in our culture now, and is changing the way we communicate.
Okay, but let’s have an honest moment here. I think a lot of us defend our use of social networks as “keeping in touch” — myself included — but it’s more than that, isn’t it?
We use it to be seen.
There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, but it’s not the way I want to travel (or live). And, while I love taking photos and looking back at them later, the problem comes when I catch myself taking photos purely for social media.
A few days ago, I was walking around Sarajevo (the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina), looking for food, and having a terrible day. I was exhausted, sick of small talk, and unbelievably homesick. All I wanted to do was lay in bed, FaceTime my family, and cry. There was no part of that day that I’d want to remember later on.
I then walked past a particularly beautiful spot along the river and pulled out my phone to take a picture because I should.
Realizing how ridiculous that was, I snapped out of it, went back to my hostel, laid in my bed, called my family, and had a good cry. After, I felt better, because I did what was right for me at that moment, rather than trying to take the perfect picture to post on Instagram and prove how much “fun” I was having.
We can, and should, do what we need to do every day to be truly happy. As one of my best friends Lucy said to me last year in Tanzania, “You don’t owe anyone anything.”
Best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten. You also don’t owe your public image anything.
Excuse the rambling. All that to say: I’m taking a 30 day social media cleanse.
During this month, which I’ll be spending working and exploring in the beach town of Durrës, Albania, my goals are as follows:
- To enjoy the present moment, rather than worrying about my ability to look back on it later
- To fill the time I would have spent on social networks with other things I love, like reading, yoga, writing, and meeting new people
- To only take a photo if it is truly a moment I want to capture
Honestly, I’m really excited to unplug this month and put my focus elsewhere. I first had the idea to do this a while ago, and there’s no time like the present!
Has anyone else taken a break from social media before? How did it go for you?