"I have enough to do in life. The idea that I have to keep telling people what I am doing and catching up with what they are doing is absurd"
Sir David Attenborough
This weekend I decided to go offline for the day - no blogging, no tweeting, no nothing... to stay away from my laptop for an entire day.
As someone who not only works in online media but blogs in her spare time and is generally a bit of a social media nut this was no mean feat, believe me, yet something told me I needed it.
It wasn't easy to begin with, I'm so used to waking up in the morning and Instagram-ing my breakfast, tweeting my way through Saturday Kitchen and writing at least two blog posts before midday... At first I felt sure I was going to miss out on something vital, I panicked that I would fall behind, but after a while it was comforting not to have to worry about it all, to switch off... Completely.
I very much consider myself part of the online generation. I can still remember the day when my parents sat my brother and I down to tell us that they had made the grand decision to get... The Internet. My eyes lit up as my brother explained that all of the high street shops I loved would no longer be a train ride away as I would be able to shop from the computer. Despite my slight disappointment when I realised this did not mean a virtual camera into Topshop at any time of the day, I was pretty much hooked from that moment on. Growing up in a rural village in the North of Scotland, the internet was a window to the world I knew I wanted to be part of, a never ending source of fashion and creativity just ready to be utilised. I no longer had to wait for my magazine subscriptions to turn up on the doorstep or until I had saved enough for a train fare to the nearest shopping centre, it was all available to me at the drop of a hat. (or the beep beep prrr of a dial up - remember that?)
Around 15 years later and I still find myself marvelling at all the online world has to offer, it has grown so much since it's humble beginnings and seems set to continue growing at a rapid rate.
I now take for granted that I can find out anything I need to in an instant and I love that I constantly have a world of information and inspiration at my fingertips. I shop online, keep up with friends and family online, watch TV online, work online and if truth be told the only time of the day that I am not online in any capacity is when I am sleeping.
But lately I've started feeling slightly over saturated by it all. I worry that my brain is going to go into overload because it can't compute the sheer amount of information that it is open to on a daily basis. And like a gaming geek who mixes up life in the game with real life, I panic that the more and more we all become engrossed in the online world, the less able we will be to communicate in the real world. I joke sometimes at work that I have forgotten how to write with a pen and paper as all of my communication is typed, texted or god forbid, tweeted, but joking aside sadly the written word is something of the past and we are at risk of soon losing all of our forms of communication to the world of social media.
Not to mention the fact that it can all be totally overwhelming - there is so much to see, do, and keep up with that it's quite simply exhausting.
As both my work life and my creative endeavours are in this field it can sometimes feel like my whole life is just forming part of the following cycle:
Writing, blogging, blogging about blogging, Tweeting about the blogging I have just done, updating Facebook with the blog and the Tweet, Pinning something related to the blog, linking back to the blog from Tumblr, Instagram-ing something related to the blog, talking to bloggers, sending what I've written to other bloggers for them to write about it, Tweeting and Facebooking about the bloggers blogs on it, Pinning a picture of them blogging about it, reading blogs, reading magazine lists about blogs, writing about the blogs, sending material to the magazines for them to write about the blogs, blogging about why the magazines write about the blogs, Facebooking, Tweeting, Instagram-ing and Pinning something related to the magazine article about the blogs... And now here I am blogging about the fact that I do all of this - you get the idea...
But what I'm beginning to wonder is when do we find the time to do the things in life which we want to write/ blog/ tell people about in the first place? What happens when updating the world about your life becomes so time consuming that you no longer have time to live it?
I hanker for the age when writing someone a letter was a magical experience, when people were creative just for their own pleasure without feeling the need to share their creations with the world, when we arranged to meet a set time and didn't rely on Twitter to explain our lateness or absence. Something as simple as sending a postcard while on holiday has become almost obsolete. Who needs postcards when you have Facebook, Skype and Flickr? But yet weren't postcards great?
Of course it's amazing how much technology has progressed, how Twitter can break news before anyone or anything else, how we can share our lives with family members at the other side of the world so easily, how we can create our own virtual mood boards and be creative online, how we can get closer to the real lives of celebrities and brands - it is all truly amazing. One of my friends is currently backpacking around the world for a year, an activity which previously would have meant losing contact with everything you knew for the duration of your travels. Yet now through the powers of Facebook and email I have been able to keep up with her along the way, she has shared photos, regaled tales and abated her home sickness for over 6 months now and it's felt as if she never left.
I love the online age we are entering, I make a living from it, I get creative through it and I keep up to date with my friends and family because of it... But I also realise that sometimes it's good to take a step back from it all, pull myself back out from the online bubble and just read a book, write a letter or meet a friend face to face.
So this weekend I stayed offline for a whole day, I watched Disney movies without tweeting about it, I baked a cake without putting any photos on Instagram, I went for a run without mapping my route beforehand, I sent cards to family just to say hello, I met up with friends without 'checking in' and I didn't blog or read a blog all day.
And the funny thing about it all? It turns out I didn't miss a thing...