I stood in front of the stove, waiting for the tea to boil. Yes, I can see you rolling your eyes. Why does everything have to be about tea with this woman? Guilty as charged but hear me out.
As I stood there, waiting for it to boil, I watched the leaves swirl in the heat. As the seconds ticked by, I closed my eyes and waited for the aroma to hit my senses. In those moments, I realised how much happiness there is in truly, patiently finding that perfect moment for the tea to be ready.
Slow social media. When I typed out these words, something made me look at them again. If I read it as a phrase ‘slow-social-media’, it’s almost just a descriptive way of how social media can be beneficial for us as users. If I read the word ‘Slow’ as an imperative verb, it’s almost like a command, ‘Slow down social media and enjoy it more.’
Over the last year and a half, I came across a few books that made me reflect deeply on the concept of social media connectivity, my time online and the need to evaluate why I did what I did. One of those was ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport. In so many incredible ways, he broke down the ways we get distracted and never get things done with the kind of focus we ought to have.
Then, I read up more about him, followed his blog and listened to podcasts where he was a guest. Each time I did, I was amazed by the following he’s built up online by the sheer power of his blog and books, without ever actually being on social media. Incredible, right?
And that flipped a switch inside me, somewhere. As much as I encourage people to use digital and social media with a purpose, I am also an ardent advocate of digital minimalism.
The minute I realised this (or technically, the year I realised this), I stepped back from the frenzy of instant gratification that drives us in the online space. Technology is great, as long as we realise it’s a good tool. But seeing everyone else’s successes when you’re floundering can be quite disheartening.
But that’s the thing: you’re comparing apples to oranges. You’re looking at your 3 months of blogging and seeing another’s 3 years of blogging success and wondering why you don’t have the same clout.
Chances are the ones who make it work, do it because they’ve been working on it for a long time. And it isn’t the number of social media followers they have that matters. What does is how they engage with them.
Which is the precise thing I tell my clients, my readers and my subscribers: The numbers don’t matter; the quality of your followers means way more.
Is there a down side to slow social media?
Honestly, if you’ve been as active I have been in this space, the answer is yes. I have over 1000 friends on Facebook, over 1500 followers on Instagram and close to 6k followers on Twitter. Between the two blogging groups I run on Facebook, I am connected to about 250 bloggers, give or take.
The first casualty that happens with slow social media is that you don’t get to see all the updates of all your friends because you aren’t online all the time. (Believe me, I’ve been there. I know). The second thing? There is no human way to keep up with the volume of information that’s coming at you from every direction, so there’s a very good chance that something will slip through the cracks.
But, slow social media taught me an invaluable lesson. I am the master of my own time now. I no longer apologise for not being up to date on people’s lives. I pick up the phone and call/text those whom I want to know about.
Slow Social Media is something I truly enjoy now. I take my time, logging on to my channels, reading what I choose and deciding how I want to engage with people I care about.
I’ve cut back on just ‘liking’ posts and focus instead on having a genuine conversation.
I write more by hand now, instead of just typing out things on a screen.
Books have found their way back into my life and I am honestly smiling more than usual. (My neighbour told me that when she saw me on my evening walk the other day. 🙂
On this blog, I write when I want to. I write because it’s something I truly cherish.
Much like anything you enjoy doing, blogging and social media also must come with those same principles: do it because you want to; not because you have to. Don’t ever let social media dictate how you should live your life.
Honestly, nobody will TRULY worry about the fact that you didn’t respond to your blog comments or ‘like’ their latest Instagram photo.
So, it begs the question, why should you?
Take my suggestion. Slow down social media. And do it with all the magical slowness, beauty and depth that life gives us every single day. Over time, you’ll realise that there is a whole life outside of social media that is messy and gorgeous and vibrant and fun. You’ll stop ranting online and cherish the moments when you can truly connect with the people who make being online a worthwhile experience.