As the one year anniversary of my first digital detox approaches, I am taking stock of the ups and downs with my original goals. Some areas have gone quite well while others faltered. Over the past year, I had a bit of a roller coaster ride with my social media as well as with my cell phone usage. I've kept somewhat on track with being minimal (in most things) and fell right off the clean eating wagon.
No better time than the present to discuss a reboot.
The last few weeks, I've really felt the drain of social media on me once again. Granted, I haven't been that active, but along with my Physical Grain Twitter account and my @ray.larose Instagram account, I have also been using Slack for talking with our podcast co-hosts as much as my text messaging app for keeping up with close friends and family. Each of the four apps gets a slew of stream updates and private/direct messages to follow and reply to. I let Social Media get away from me again.
On a whim, while mindlessly scrolling (and not interacting) through the Twitter stream, I decided to jump over to my settings and click on deactivate. No thought went into it. I just clicked the button and instantly dumped Twitter and my 10+ years of contacts - some of them name-drop worthy in the photography circles. And you know what? It wasn't even a shock to the system. Twitter had been my go-to app for the last 10+ years. I've come and gone (and come back again) from Instagram several times, come and gone from Facebook, 500px, Tumblr, and Flickr. But I swore Twitter would stick around.
Over the last 6 months or so, Twitter seemed to really offer me less and less. A lot of status updates, a lot of photos of cameras on tables. But the interaction (at least on my part) was dwindling fast. I'd get on once a week to post a Physical Grain update and not even bother checking what else was happening. When I did, it would often seem like an abandoned town. More and more of my long-time friends seemed to be using it much less as well. Some doing their own sort of detox, some traveling, some just disinterested.
With that, I decided if I was going to keep a social media account, it would now be Instagram. For obvious reasons, Instagram is just more photo-centric. All the people I interact with there are enthusiasts who like to interact and talk shop. And though I was never a fan of the stories, people are really starting to do some interesting ones, so I have begun to pay attention.
After my walk in Mississippi, I was encouraged to return to Instagram after a 6-month absence. Rather than reactivating my old account, I decided to start fresh with a new one. Having a fresh account meant a fresh format. I wanted to use Instagram as more of a mini-blog, sharing film and digital images, and talking a little about what's going on in my life in bite-sized morsels. I have found that this has given me meaningful conversation - how in my mind social media should work. Not mindless likes.
The idea here isn't to grow the account but to have meaningful conversations with fellow photographers. I don't want several thousand ghost followers. I want a handful of chatty friends.
What's also nice about the way I am using Instagram is it's not time sensitive. If I take a week off, it's no big deal. Conversations continue and I can catch on some feeds at will. With Twitter, if I didn't keep up, "conversations" seemed to vanish into the abyss.
At least for me, these things made Instagram the logical choice this time around.
I went through a ton this year. It started off with the Punkt "dumb phone" which I used faithfully until last May. Then immediately after switching back to my Nexus, I shattered it. Luckily, my friend Cody had a spare which I used off an on. I tried to experiment for a couple months with an old school Blackberry, but that experiment grew tired pretty quick. I was torn about going back to the Punkt - but with so much travel coming up, I caved and picked up a Pixel 2.
At first, it was exciting to have a smart phone again and found myself loading far too many apps resulting in far too much screen time. So, I quickly started to remove all the crap and just keep what I use on the phone. I also switched to a minimal look on the phone and keep my 5 most used apps on the home screen. Time wasters have to be dug up to use.
I've also disabled all notifications and keep the phone in silent mode - no rings, beeps, or vibrations. This means I am checking the phone on my terms. The only interruption I get from it is the rare phone call - where I have the screen turn on for that so I know someone is trying to get a hold of me. Considering I get about one phone call every other month, it's not often I get interrupted.
It looks like this new distraction-free set-up is working as the usage monitoring app AntiSocial tells me that I am now spending an average of 12 minutes on my phone a day, doing things like posting on Instagram and responding to text messages.
My Favorite Food: Food
The past 8 months have not been overly friendly stress-wise. Nothing at home, home is awesome. More work related. Anyhow, that led to stress-eating and that meant a lot of crap in my system. So as part of my reboot, it's going to be about going on a healthy kick again. I will be reintroducing my "if it's unprocessed, have it" meal plan to undo some of the crap. Shopping this weekend will be produce, meats, and unprocessed grains. I always feel so much better when I kick processed foods out of my system. Not a whole lot more to say on that bit.
April Full-On Detox
I am also gearing up for a total unplug for the month of April. For that month, I will be traveling to New Zealand and will go with no TV, no laptop, and a cellphone only for emergencies. Over that month, all digital activities will cease. I will not check or respond to emails, will not post updates to Physical Grain, and will have my month of e-Bills prepaid so there is nothing to check. My work email will have the auto-responder stating that I am out until May and that "your email will not be read. Please resend on May 2 if this is important" that way I won't have to worry about a full inbox either. When I return, it'll be a simple select all email in my inbox and click delete. So if you need me that month, call me. I am hoping to use that time in New Zealand to be out in nature from sun up to sun down and not worry about all things digital - well, aside from my Kindle.
So, this is my reboot, slowly kicking into gear. I am very excited once again!