You might find this a slightly odd blog post for me to write, given that over half of my business is social media.  I was on holiday last month (Dubrovnik – it’s stunning) and I took the decision to have a digital detox – a complete break from my phone, emails and ALL social media.  As a business owner and with a responsibility for my client’s social media, I am connected all day every day to my phone and I felt it was really important for me to have a complete break to rest and recharge.  My clients were all handed over to my trusted team so I enjoyed a guilt-free week with no notifications, emails or friend requests.

What did I learn during this break?  I didn’t miss that much. The world carried on. But, I noticed a few things about the people around me – things that I noticed because I spent time looking around, taking in the sights of a beautiful city, not taking photos and posting them immediately on Facebook.

Incident one: When walking around the City Walls in Dubrovnik, one particular lady had a photographer with her. She was posing in most of the locations with a great viewpoint. She wasn’t looking at the scenery and taking in the beauty – she was making sure she had her perfect Insta-shot.  And she was changing her outfits too! Maybe she was some sort of model – or maybe she just didn’t care about being in a stunning place and didn’t mind missing out.

Incident two: A lady posing for a photo, which was being taken by her daughter who was maybe six years old.  This in itself is fine. But the girl had to take 20 shots over the course of five minutes until the perfect photo was taken.  How is this a good example to set to your child?  I’m all for having a (nice, no blinking, no chins) photo taken and posting it on social media, but when it’s at the cost of engaging with the world around you and setting a bad example of perfection to young children, I feel that things are going a bit too far.

I posted about my ‘digital detox’ on my personal Facebook page and a number of my friends commented:

“We should lift our chins up and have a look around. I hardly see the eyes of the people that pass me on the street anymore. Talk to each other. Look them in the eye, not through a lens or on your smartphone.” Great words from my lovely Norwegian friend Trude. Thanks to social media, we manage to keep track of each other’s lives which is wonderful. But this summary is just brilliant!

“I am guilty of spending way too much time on my phone, doing nothing really apart from missing my girls grow up right in front of me!”  It’s great that we have our cameras on our phones which are with us all the time, so we can record our children doing things, but when we are scrolling through rubbish and fake news, it’s really sad to think about what we are missing out on with our children.

And this article from EOnline shows how people aren’t living in the moment any more!  However, it isn’t a generation issue – I was out for dinner once and saw a family celebrating a 21st birthday.  The family of 12 (of varying ages) were all chatting with each other – apart from Nan who was busy on her smartphone (she did put it down for dinner though).

However, as the picture in this article suggests, maybe this isn’t a new issue.  These two queues suggest that sometimes, people just want to immerse themselves in something they want to read/view, whether that’s a newspaper or their smart phone.  And growing up, did my parents bring a book or a newspaper to the park while I was playing?  Yes they did! It’s just that the technology is more connected to everything we do these days.

Having done a digital detox for a week, what advice can I give?  Overall, social media is a brilliant platform for sharing and gathering information, so I wouldn’t say to not use it unless you really feel you need a break.  But make sure you set your social media profiles up to help you to see the things you really want to see!  The examples below are based on Facebook as I think this is the platform where there’s the most ‘noise’ in terms of content.

  1. Edit your Facebook friends.  If you find somebody’s social media presence annoying (too many ‘look how amazing my life is posts’) then you can clear up your news feed by not seeing their posts but remaining friends.  From your smartphone, click on their profile and select the 3 dots, you can snooze somebody for 30 days or unfollow their posts but remain friends.
  2. Review the pages you follow.  You may follow certain pages at a particular point in your life, such as in the run up to getting married, or if you are on maternity leave.  If you’re no longer interested in these products and services, then unfollow the pages.  You won’t see their updates much anyway because the Facebook Algorithm will only show you what you are interested in, but it will help to make sure Facebook knows what you are interested in seeing by unfollowing pages.  And from the business owner’s perspective, they will only want people following their page who are actually interested in the goods and services they are offering. Think quality not quantity.
  3. Review the groups you are a member of.  Facebook groups are a great way to build communities.  I’m a member of several entrepreneurial and marketing groups – it’s a great way to build connections with like-minded people.  But if you feel a group is a bit spammy, or not your thing any more, just go through and leave – allowing more room for you to see things from the groups that you do like.  If you sold something on a local selling page two years ago, leave the group if you find it annoying to see the things for sale that you don’t want to buy.
  4. Use the See First function in Facebook.  If there are people that you follow or are friends with who’s content is really important to you (for example if they find great day trips for the kids), then go to their profile, select the following tab and choose see first. This way, regardless of what the good old algorithm says, you’ll see their posts in your feed first.
  5. Snap first, post later.  As I’ve said, it’s great that we have the option to record key moments of our children growing up, or take memories of a night out, but why not take the photos and post them when you’re back at home (and on wifi) – allowing you to enjoy what you’re doing and notice what’s going on around you!

If you need any help with your Facebook page, please get in touch and let me know if you’ve done a digital detox and can share any tips that worked for you!  You can comment below and I can publish a follow up (with your permission of course).


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