Digital to analogue
To put some context in to the title, recently myself and partner have been trying to reduce our digital footprint, the time spent on screens and social media in particular. This has mainly stemmed from listening to the numerous podcasts from The Minimalists and Feel Better, Live More from Dr Rangan Chatterjee. Both podcasts aren’t aimed at a digital detox or reducing time spent online, both podcasts only lightly touch on this subject but it continues to be a recurring theme on several touching points.
Depression, stress, work-life balance, food, obsessions and money are all subjects covered in the podcasts and the obvious from The Minimalists, how to create a life of minimalism. Both are incredibly insightful and although can be deep and provoke a lot of thoughts they are great to listen to and surprisingly easy listens. Personally speaking of course.
An episode we both recently listened too was a joint podcast between Feel Better, Live More and Cal Newport on “How Social Media Could Be Making You Ill with Cal Newport”. The pair discuss various points on how social media can be toxic, the time wasting attitude and adrenaline and rush from scrolling can give.
A really interesting point raised was the how the human brand reacts to the speed of communication and this new digital lifestyle we are all engulfed in. If you’re confused by the statement of new digital lifestyle, you have to remember computers and mobile phones have only been about for some 40 years and its only really since 2000 has the the domination of laptops and smart phones have taken over our lifes and email has been around for longer but all of these were created to speed up the process of communication. Making it easier to contact anyone around the world instantly! And with that Facebook, created in 2004 was created for similar means, connecting with friends and remaining connected beyond the human interaction.
So in 20 years the mobile phone, social media and email has taken control. Our brains aren’t wired to work in this easy, mundane, scrolling method. We are wired to be like cavemen still. Our brains need more complex tasks to excite us, we need human connection, we need time outside and to talk. Not looking at a screen for hours.
Keeping the above in mind, emails and always remaining connected has a negative effect on our mental wellbeing. We don’t feel like we are accomplishing anything, we find ourselves bored, longing to achieve more and then this spurs on mental health issues, boredem and all anexity. Returning back to the podcast, Cal Newport discusses one of his workshops over the course of 30 days in reducing time spent on mobile phones and decluttering your digital lifes.
The first point made was removing any apps you DON’T NEED. For example, do you need to have the News App on your phone? Because, in all honesty news, isn’t news now is it? News has become a form of entertainment and if any news is truly drastic and catastrophic you will find out somehow. Do you need text messaging or Whatsapp? The example given was, well I need to contact my daughter and vice versa when she has finished her hockey class. That becomes a need, otherwise your daughter will be stuck at the club for a month.
How does this relate to me and Becky? Well we did exactly that.
What apps do we need, what don’t we need? Facebook, Twitter both went. On Becky’s phone, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat all went, next she removed the News apps. As I don’t have an expensive phone anyway my phone can’t install many apps so my many issue was social media, but notice I haven’t removed Instagram?
It’s the one app I can’t use on a computer so to get around this we actived Digital Wellbeing on our phones. This turns your smart phone in to a zombie as such, between certain hours your phone turns to monotone colours, do not disturb switches on and you can’t use the internet. Shocking huh! And out of those hours you can set time restrictions, so Instagram is on a firm 10 minutes only.
The next thing we have done to reduce time spent on the phones is to keep mobile data switched off unless we need it.
Previous time spent on a phone was a good hour plus but with these changes, its down to a mere 15 minutes. Somedays we don’t use them.
What does all this have to do with digital to analogue however? Matt, have you just given this blog a title that catches out photographers? No, of course not but it is a little clickbait like. Now when you see the picture below, what on earth does Becky’s hands and two trays of soil got to do with this?
With the reduction of time spent on digital applications we have swapped our time for analogue activities. We now have a small farm with fresh vegetables growing, we do painting, crafts and plenty more cycling, walking and camping. When I publish this we will be at the beginning of our long stint of camping every weekend over Summer.
That all sounds lovely eh? But, you must be thinking what has that done to your mental health and general demeanor.
Now we have detoxed ourselves to this way, we don’t miss social media. The endless scrolling and liking, we are happier with ourselves and for me with my photography it hasn’t impacted anything as a result of not sharing as often. Becky feels much better in herself and as a result the pair of us have stopped comparing ourselves to others and images/crafts we see online. Breaking that cycle has been the best thing for us both.
If you don’t already it’s worth looking at your websites analytics and seeing how much traffic and business comes from social media. In my case it was only 9% when I was trying and posting daily and interacting with people. Clearly no one bothers clicking through but the largest basis of traffic came from search engines and people specifically searching for a review/article. This was a huge 75% and the 16% came from referal links. With only a small portion of traffic coming from social media why do I spend longer on this rather than the main lines of traffic? The majority of items you will see on my social media will now be automated from the website or through a free marketing tool I use called Latergram or Later this isn’t just for Instagram but all three major platforms so I can spend 1-2 hours at the beginning of each month, scheduling everything and leave it to do its thing.
Everything we have done above is still early days and its easier to do when the weather is nice, let’s see how this fairs out in to Winter when the weather is horrible and staying outdoors is a little more difficult. My fear is we will be swimming in paint and paper cuttings soon enough.