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Boycotting Social Media

So … we landed in Bali, Indonesia and spent the first night in a part of Bali called Kuta, before moving into our mini-temple, located in a peaceful and traditional village in Ubud. Having taken up meditation — and actually finding it works, as well as developing some half-appreciative outlook on life going forward, I was looking forward to switching off and enjoying my surroundings. We'd be living in a medium-sized bungalow, dead in the center of a beautiful garden, which was also surrounded by the jungle.

As soon as we arrived, we dropped our bags, took a tour of the place and quickly shooed our host off. I’d answer a couple emails at most, but I had no plans to do any stress-related work whatsoever. I took to the perfectly set desk, right outside the bungalow overlooking the garden and proceeded to create my first drop of stress … The arrival pictures. I probably spent about half an hour trying to angle and compose a photo of my laptop and a glass of water against the rich backdrop that was the garden (OCD struggles). To make matters worse, I still didn’t know If I wanted my instagram to say “I do fun shit, mostly all the time” or “Look how well composed everything is”. I could never do both, it looks horrible.

Fast forward to the night, I could not sleep as expected — nothing to do with the temperature. I had just created a new job for myself and had some hard and stressful decisions to make before our first adventure tomorrow — quad-biking through the jungle.

How am I going to stutter the use of my GoPro camera over the day to account for the 1 hour battery life? How stupid will the GoPro headstrap look? Might handheld be the way to go?

Now the stress was really piling on, so I took a few breaths and tried to figure out why I was getting so worked up … Social Media (partially OCD). When your “High-Speed” wi-fi download speed just about topples over the ancient AOL dial up, it might not be a bad time to fuck off from social networks. By morning all my apps were gone and I really didn’t even need to take my phone out with me, but I did anyway … you know “emergencies”.

Fast-forward a month, and nothing but good came out of this decision. Google became my new best friend, my time online was replaced with intense research sessions. I was also learning to surf at the time so I learn’t quite a bit about the great sea and it’s dangers. I learned how to survive a rip current — one of the oceans biggest killers, after previously being in the middle of one (scary story for another day). I finally learn’t how to play chess, and I'm quite good now, if I must say so myself. I’m hoping to learn how to play Clair de Lune by Debussy, on the piano. My “To Learn” list is super long right now.

Another thing I noticed … I was so much more excited to talk to my friends, and find out what they were up to. Our conversations were so full. I finally let go of the pressure, the pressure to update. Some friends said they thought I was dead, but I assured them I was very much alive.

My personal goals became important again. I couldn't be distracted by the person “seemingly” living it up every weekend. I set targets I would be satisfied with hitting. I became my only competition and it felt great.

Update a few months later — I'm now back on social media for no apparent reason. I think I wanted to upload a picture on instagram and somehow ended up downloading twitter too, weird. Having just re-read this article I’m thinking about restarting the boycott and spending the spare time exploring London. I really should start this photo book project.

Written 05.09.2014