I know it's been a little while since unplugging inspiration and teenage instafamous star Essena O'Neill decided to quit the Internet. But what she did leave tracks in my very own life. I began to question my own handling of my smartphone and social media in general. I started asking questions like: what does it really do to me? What do I want? What am I even looking for online?
And I took it a step further. What happens if I just decide to quit?
And that's what I did. I sold my iPhone and started using an old phone which people in my age refer to as dinosaur, because it's almost in this age category. Here's what I realized while being off the phone:
Everyone wants and needs connection. It is what makes us human. And it is why all these social networks work.
I personally feel a knee-deep longing for meaningful friendships, for my soul sisters to reach to my soul, for beautiful connections with like-minded souls who touch my heart. I think this wish is very natural and human. And while looking for these aspects of my life I started, like everyone else, using social media. I used Instagram, Facebook and even WhatsApp to find a sense of connection. But you know what, becoming addicted to it was not part of my plan. I'm sure it's also not what Mark Zuckerberg thought of when he invented Facebook! He thought of happy people connecting but not of happy people becoming addicts.
What really happened to me when I used these social media tools is kind of fascinating. While I wanted to use them to fill my life with meaning, I slowly but surely "died" internally. It kept me f***ing busy all the time, yes, but I never felt true love or connection while browsing through other people's perfectly polished lives.
Do you ever? You can lie to me, but come on, be honest with at least yourself and answer the question.
Marianne Williamson says that with every big movement there comes a shadow. I believe that too. The internet is a big movement, and very present in our lives and this time. It connects us faster than anything before. It not only brought us online shopping and chats; it also did us a favour in the areas of education, job searches, news and the weather.
But it brought us some pretty tough stuff as well. Just to name a few. Young teenagers who have no idea who they are allowed to be, because social media tells them all the time that they are not enough, porn addiction, anonymous shaming and bullying, because everybody thinks they can offend anyone, if they only use a nickname and a fake picture.
I learned that I no longer wanted to be part of this consuming public.
Yes, I love to watch other people, too, but can't we all have a dose or two of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and then get over it and switch back into our real lives?
I realised that I do not want to be a mother who is online all the time and never there for her daughter. I can't. I do not want her to remember me like I had a disorder in my right hand called iPhone. Nope. I want to listen to her without tweeting a picture of us, watching other people on Instagram or reading text messages on WhatsApp. I want to be present in her life and by her side.
I made the switch.
And you can too, if you feel like you want to. The first days were quite tough. I felt left alone and disconnected, but then I felt a sense of relief, like I got back in my life and down to earth. I felt here in the now; I felt more present (still working on that one though), and with that I felt more alive.
I have more energy, I need less sleep and I even started dreaming again. (Yes, social media had quite an influence in my life!)
And with presence there came real and meaningful connections; friendships have been stronger ever since, and moments have been shared with 100% intention. It is possible to live without an iPhone, and it is a great way of life, too.
My tips on how to survive like this?
Because you start to live again, there's no need to survive. You simply ask people where the next bakery is, when bus number six departs or at which gate your train will arrive. You buy your ticket from the bus driver personally (and you smile at him), and you send the photos from your children only to your mother-in-law, because that's where the pictures are really meant to go, and not Facebook.
You rely and trust and connect. After all, that's what we're here for.
I now live - and plan to do it forever - without an iPhone. I use an old Nokia, on which I need at least seven minutes to write a text message. I don't use Whatsapp or a personal Facebook account - no apps, no filters, no distraction, baby!
I only use my blog's Facebook account to raise awareness and spread positivity. And with this text I want to do same, folks.
Go out and live. My best tips for you are the following.
1. Call on me!
Rediscover the beautiful magic that comes with phone calls. It's - oh my God - so personal and nice to hear the other's voice and feel the chills instead of reading a word or two. It will take you back to the first romantic days of your love - trust me.
2. Be a role model for this world.
For whatever you believe in. Your behaviour has an influence on other humans' lives. Start with you. Make smartphone-free zones or days, and start to be present again. More presence, more love.
3. It's tea time, darling!
There is so much beauty found in holding a wonderful cup of tea or coffee and just chatting with friends. Just connection and joy. Yes, I really dare say it: Drink your cup of tea instead of photographing it.
Digital detox is the new luxury of this generation. Live like it's not a coincidence; live like you f***ing mean it! Throw dance parties, invite strangers over, kiss someone you love, connect with people.
Do it everywhere, in reality - at home, in cafés, in the bus. Talk, smile, laugh, help an old lady crossing the street, breathe, look around, be present and, most important, be here for the people you love.
And this starts with yourself. The magic word is "unplug," baby! Try it at least for a day or two.