I have been quiet around here lately. Christmas and the subsequent Twixmas is the one time of the year that I feel I can slow down guilt free. Actually, I’m not sure I really did slow down. Perhaps the best way of describing it is that I was busy living my life away from the screens.
Living My Life
I untangled myself from Instagram. I didn’t panic that I hadn’t posted on the grid. Bloggers know that once you stop consistently posting on Instagram (i.e. every single sodding day) and dare to stop commenting on all of the posts for all the hours (every single sodding day) Instagram punishes you for daring to have a life and stops showing your photos to any living person. But I’ve decided that I don’t care. For a while I have been falling out of love with the gram and its toxic demanding ways. I’ve stopped spending all of my spare time on it, I no longer have RSI in my thumb and my hands have gradually unfurled. You know you are on your phone a lot when the natural resting position of your hands becomes like a claw because it’s accustomed to holding a phone all of the time. Okay, I might have slightly exaggerated the last point.
Notes On A Nervous Planet By Matt Haig
Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig is what caused me to question how I was seeing the majority of my day to day life through social media and it didn’t take a genius to work out that it was this that was probably responsible for the increasing feeling of anxiety. Where I once saw social media as a comfort blanket, I now realised that it had become something that was obscuring my vision. It’s hard to see the world for what it is when your head is buried deep under the covers.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love social media and it will still be something that I use. I just won’t be letting it rule me. I will choose to use it how I want to use it. When I first started reading Notes on a Nervous Planet I found myself frustrated by its simplicity, but then I realised that was MY problem. The answer really is simple. Modern life and technology aren’t always good for our mental health. Of course I knew this deep down. However, it was only when Matt Haig’s book brilliantly laid this out, simply and concisely, that I was finally able to accept it.
I Wasn’t Always This Way
I’ve long been wary of the pull of smartphones. When I actually met Mr C I didn’t own a mobile phone. I didn’t like having something in my pocket that meant that people/the world were able to contact me constantly. Yet, now I have morphed into this person who makes her living through writing online. I have a digital presence (and I’m not entirely happy with that). Perhaps the person we need to blame here is Mr C. He became fed-up of my tardy timekeeping and not actually knowing if I was going to show up for our dates and bought me a pay as you go mobile phone. Which I promptly lost a couple of months later. However, now I am never without my phone.
Yet, sometimes I find myself disgusted by it. Those times when you go to concerts and you see that everyone is filming it. When you go for a walk and instead of living in the now you are too busy taking photos of it; capturing that sunset to share online. I am especially guilty of this. I forget to take a step back, to put the phone down and to just appreciate living in the now. Yes, we can argue that it’s important that we capture those memories for posteriority, but does looking at everything through a phone mean that we forget how to feel? Do our emotions become deadened to real life?
What Does Social Media Do To Us?
You could definitely argue that social media does seem to remove that sense of politeness for some people. Some people seem to relish using social media as a way of unleashing their vile side. Tweeting unspeakable things that they wouldn’t dare say in real life. Instagram can often feel like a playground full of bullies. However, on the plus side, social media can do amazing things. It can help you raise money, raise awareness, share the love, unite people and offer comfort.
Like social media, I had a love/hate relationship with Notes on a Nervous Planet. I wanted clear and definitive answers, but that’s not modern life. Our life is messy and we are the only ones that can make sense of our own life. However, we can be aware of the impact that technology has on our lives. We can make the conscious decision to switch off our phone, to stop looking at the screens and instead choose to look at the faces of our loved ones, to get outside and see the world, to go walking along a beach on a stormy day, to feel the wind in our hair and to appreciate feeling alive.
Sometimes the solution is so obvious that we can’t see it. Notes on a Nervous Planet helps us see what we always knew deep down.
Reading this book might not change your world but it will definitely be good for your mental health.