5 And a Half Things I Learned From Being On Social Media Detox

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Let me tell you a little bit about myself and my relationship with social media before I begin.

I grew up in the society where social media was highly looked down at, and for a long time those who exposed themselves on social media were considered insecure attention seekers. I was one of those people who did not understand the concept of social media at all. Why would one want to share their lives and everything they do on a platform where so many people can see and judge a person’s life? That’s what I thought. I can’t say I wasn’t interested in using it, however, I was afraid to start, as I was scared of the same judgement. So I stayed away from using platforms such as Instagram too often, as I didn’t want to seem like an attention seeker to people who knew me in real life.

I’ve grown, my views changed, my attitude towards social media changed. I learned about online video marketing, and I loved the idea! That’s what I want to do, I thought. And for that, I need to learn and grow my own network. I began posting videos on YouTube, posting photos on Instagram and on Facebook page, where I shared the work I create. However, in this particular post I want to focus mainly on Instagram and its impact on my life since I started posting there.

I had my account since 2012, when I posted my first ever photo of the studio flat me and Vlad rented in Paris. I only had about 20 friends following me at the time, which has grown up to approximately a 100 people who knew me in real life from 2012 to 2016. Then, as I gained interest in online content, I decided to try out posting one photo a day and see where it leads me. I also did that because I gained interest in photography and I took a lot of photos on my phone during the long weekend walks around London. I already had loads of photos piled up, and also wanted to learn how to take better ones. That’s what I started with.

Woah, this was supposed to be a brief intro, but instead, I seem to be telling you the story of my life here. Anyway, bare with me, I’m getting close to the actual point. 

 

So, it was Monday, 22nd of May, when I suddenly decided to go on a social media detox cold turkey. I always wanted to do a digital detox, but I can’t really afford to do it just yet, so social media detox might be a good alternative for starters.

It was a spontaneous decision. I sat there, in my usual coffee shop, blank from any ideas, not willing to complete any work, not feeling excited about anything I did up to this moment. I felt tired and drained. I also felt worthless and uncreative. And one thought was drilling my brain: log out of all social media, log out, log out… And I did.

I decided to stop using social media, and especially Instagram for one week. And this is what I learned. 

  1. It really is an addiction.

I finally admitted it to myself – I am an Instagram addict. I check Instagram without even noticing when I’m at it. I had my phone in my hand and a finger scrolling through Instagram before I looked at the page. This is ridiculous.

2. Always log out of your social media accounts. 

This was a revelation to me. We are used to having all of our social accounts opened and logged in to on our laptops and phones. For example, I never even close the tabs with Facebook and Instagram in my browser. And when it’s there, open in front of your eyes, always logged in and ready to use, – you’re gonna use it. Mindlessly. That’s a perfect way to make yourself addicted and you won’t even notice when your eyes end up staring at an open Facebook or Instagram page reading the news you’re not interested in. This is addiction. And it needs to be cured.

Log out. There’s no other better way to cure this addiction and show to yourself the amount of times you mindlessly enter the social media app. How does it work? Basically you step on the same rake over and over again until you create a bump and learn from the experience. Every time you’re holding your phone with the sign-in screen open, you’ll instantly notice that you’re acting on your reflexes and using social media mindlessly over again. It is scary how many times I mindlessly opened Instagram every time I was bored, without being aware of the moment I took the phone in my hand and opened the app. The sign-in screen that met my eyes reminded me to make a choice – shall I log in and scroll through my feed, or shall I actually continue doing what I was doing before the moment I got bored?

3. Get Bored.

Yes, that’s right. Allow yourself to be bored. As Austin Kleon, the author of Steal Like An Artist wrote, “Creative people need time to just sit around and do nothing”. The best ideas and inspiration come to you when you’re bored. So go ahead, declutter your mind, stop reaching out to your phone every time you’re commuting on the train, stop having Netflix blabbing on the background when you’re doing house chores, stop listening to music in your headphones when you’re walking from point A to point B.

As strange as it sounds, after a certain point it becomes difficult to make yourself bored again. I got so used to reaching out to social media and entertainment at every possible moment, – when I have to wait for a video to render, when I’m waiting for a bus, when I’m walking home from the train station, when I’m showering. I don’t give myself time to be bored, because I fill my time with mindless entertainment. And no, there’s nothing bad in listening to music or browsing social media, however, don’t allow it to overtake every minute of your life. Especially in our present time when media and devices are designed to be as accessible as possible. You have to be mindful of the times when you reach out to them.

Get bored. Don’t fill up your brain with information at every possible moment. Allow your mind to roam free and tackle boredom on its own, without the clutter of social media and brainless entertainment. It will be difficult at first. But then it will become liberating.

     4. All of a sudden you will have more free time to spend on creative work.

After I logged out of my social media pages, I noticed that I had more free time. I could fill it with creative work. I would normally spend about 20-30 minutes on a single post, considering that I’ve already edited a photo in advance. I would come up with a thoughtful caption and hashtags. After that I would spend another 30 minutes to an hour on browsing, commenting, liking, discovering. And although I do like to engage with people I follow, sometimes it can go overboard. Lets say I’ve spent time engaging with my internet friends and I’ve run out of content I should engage with. I would then spend time refreshing my feed waiting for new posts, or I would go over the old posts again. I was so addicted to Instagram that it was hard to leave, it was hard to stop.

But once I made a conscious decision to change my own attitude and STOP, I discovered that I had so much more free time that I could spend on work which would actually lead me somewhere. I also had more time to think about my own posts and think about creative ways to present my photography. This sounds more productive, eh?

At the same time I was slightly overwhelmed. Where did this time come from? What should I do? I had to make a decision to DO THE ACTUAL WORK, instead of mindlessly spending hours on Instagram or on Facebook reading the news that I very much dislike reading.

I gained more time from just quitting social media, and I pushed myself to spend it creatively. And I’m very grateful to having made such decision.

   5. Are your ready to struggle for the work you love? 

Although I decided to go on social media detox, I still couldn’t get it out of my head for a while. So the next day I decided to go out and take photos. This was the main reason for me to even create my account, right? So I had to go and take photos. But you know what was different this time? I HAD FUN.

You know why I lost any enthusiasm in my creative work? Because I felt like I HAD to do it. I felt like I had to just go and deliver whatever I could, even when I didn’t have any ideas. Instead of going out and spending time nurturing my creativity, going for a walk, enjoying the sun and spending time being “bored”, I pushed myself to create work which didn’t bring me any happiness.

This is the whole reason for us, creatives, to do the work. We do the work we love. We create because it gives us pleasure. We deliver work because we love it, not because we want get lost in likes and follows. And if we love our work, it means that there will be someone who will love our work as much as we do. Right?

Of course, we still have to push ourselves to deliver. Even when you do the work you love, there will be moments when laziness overtakes, when inspiration vanishes, when doubts devour your mind. But we still have to push ourself to deliver work, because we love it. And because we love it, we are ready to struggle, to face laziness, difficulties, lack of inspiration. But I didn’t love it at the time. I hated my photography, videos and writing. Why? Because I didn’t create for love, I created for numbers. And of course that’s when the numbers stopped growing. And they were right to stop. Because I had to stop too.

5.1. Do the work you love and you will never work a day in your life = BULLSHIT. 

We all heard this phrase, do the work you love and you will never work a day in your life. You know what I think? This saying is a total scam which makes us and everybody else believe that if we love what we do, it will be easy.

If you’re doing the work you love, you will have to work like a horse. Because when you do the work you love, a lot of unexpected struggles will occur. You will doubt, you will feel worthless, you will have an urge to compare, to count the numbers, to procrastinate. You will have to learn about management, logistics, marketing and whatnot.  Even if you are a graphic designer, or an artist, or a filmmaker. There won’t be an opportunity to say “that’s not my job”.

And you will work for it, because the work you do is what you are prepared to struggle for. When you love something or someone, you will move mountains for it.

How does this relate to social media detox? Most of us, creative people, publish our work on social media. And this is a big part our work. We have to love what we show to the world.

 

These were the thoughts I had during the social media detox, and I am looking forward to doing this again. It really allowed me to spend more time appreciating my surroundings and listening to my own thoughts. This was a first step towards decluttering my mind and getting rid of social media addiction. I also understood that I love spending time on Instagram and sharing snippets of my life in my little gallery. But sometimes it feels like the time freezes and I lose myself in these snippets instead of living in my present.

It is important to remember that after you froze the moment in one image, the reality continues to go on. Don’t swap your reality for the single moment on your Instagram feed. Make memories before posting on social, instead of letting the social become your only memory. 

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Do you live on your device?

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Most of my day is spent looking at the screen.

I used to be one of those people, who looked down on teenagers who spend their whole day texting, playing games, browsing social media on their phones/ iPads/ laptops every day. I was that “in my days…” person (despite being only 22), comparing kids today with my own childhood spent playing outside, mainly because phones and laptops weren’t available in the society I lived in back then.

Only recently I started to pay a closer attention to how much time I spent on my phone and laptop every day, and to my terror surprise I realised that it’s easier to count the time I’m not spending looking at the screen rather than otherwise.

Doing so many things at the same time, managing my own (start up) business, filming videos, editing videos, editing photos, posting on Instagram, writing on my blog (I already have enormous amounts of drafts that I never posted), answering calls, replying to messages and emails, and at the end of the day perhaps watching a movie or TV series to “wind down”.  So lets see… I don’t look at the screen only when I’m moving between locations (e.g. home – work) or when I’m sleeping.

How did this even happen?!

You see, I have to confess. I am so SCARED of losing my devices and spending a day without them. My work, hobby, leisure.. my whole LIFE is connected to the screen of a laptop and a phone. I am planning to do a digital detox some day, and every time I decide on date and time I end up not doing it because I find so many reasons WHY I need my phone at the time.

What if I go to an unknown location and I need a map?

But I need to check train times!

What if I receive an important email/ message?

How about Instagram? I post twice a day, so I can’t possibly skip that!

And what about the evening? What am I gonna do? I can’t watch a movie?

But… but but but…! There are so many “buts” in this one decision.

I guess we live at the age when our devices are like a physical extension of our whole lives. There are so many things we have to keep up with. We always want to stay updated, stay present in the social. Reply to that comment of an internet friend whom you’ve never met in real life.

I’m writing this whilst at a coffee shop where I go to when I can’t bare working from home. I sneezed. A girl next to me quietly said Bless you, whilst opening her laptop. I turned to her and smiled saying Thank you, and both of us instantly turned back to our screens. I need to talk to that person on Facebook. And reply to emails. And see whether anyone commented on my Instagram post. These are the thoughts that are running through my head.

I guess I looked down on kids who spend their lives on their devices, because this is something I don’t like in myself either. I remember being a child and approaching other kids on the street, talking to them, “Hey! What’s your name? Wanna play?“. I guess it would be too creepy if I did that with an adult.

…Before I stepped inside the bus, I braved myself to look in the eyes of a driver and say “Good Afternoon!” with a big smile. So I step inside. I quietly register my journey and look down proceeding to the seat on the deck, cursing inside, as I, again, didn’t smile to the driver as I intended to.

Maybe next time. I have a new email notification. 

How to get ideas for your blog

Seriously, how?

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So I plan my day in the morning. I create a “To do” list, which I more or less stick to throughout the day, adding countless times I reach out for my phone to scroll through Instagram (yeah, it has become my addiction by now). And then as I follow my list, I come closer to that one entry “Write a blog post”. And there it goes.

I open my blog and click on that “write” button on the right top corner of the screen. I stare at the blank page. I stare at it for a bit longer. Then I reach out to my phone “looking for inspiration”. I get too immersed in Instagram, I reply to comments and comment on other people’s posts. I check emails. I scroll through Facebook, disgusted by all political and dumb news shared on my news feed.

I go back to my blog. No inspiration. I might even google: “how to get inspired”. Aaaah I’ve already done that soooo many times, but I have to finally take action!

Okay. So I’ve decided what I will write about. And then I start writing. My wording seems lame. Really, english isn’t my first language, and after living for almost 6 years in the UK I’m still super conscious about it. So I erase everything and start again.

Then I decide that I can’t be perfect, so let me be just me. I start all over again and write that imperfect post. And then realise that I don’t have any images. So I save the draft and tell myself to take photos in the evening. The draft remains saved for the next few weeks, shamelessly.

Then I finally publish it. But statistics say that no one really reads it. Anyone? Is there anyone out there who reads the thoughts coming through my head? Somebody?

Oh well.

So anyway. How to get ideas for your blog?

Ideas and inspiration isn’t something you can switch on and off. This is something that comes and goes, and you never know when it’s gonna come upon you.

But you can nourish your creativity.

How?

By going out to museums and events.

By taking a walk in a beautiful park during a sunny spring day.

Take a detour on your way to work. 

Walk instead of taking a bus. 

Stop to smell the flowers. 

Smile to a stranger. 

Say good morning to the bus driver (it is if you decided to take a bus instead of walking). 

Strike a conversation with a barista who’s making your morning coffee. 

Go out to a breakfast date early in the morning before heading to work. 

Go out for a 30 minute walk in the evening alone or with a friend/ loved one. It’s important that you leave your phone at home. Just spend time with your thoughts or talk it out to someone. The ideas will come naturally.

Watch a documentary instead of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. 

Prepare a home cooked meal by following a new recipe. 

Meditate for at least 5 minutes. Get all thoughts out of your head before letting the new ones in. 

Doodle. Sing. Dance. Move your furniture around. Rearrange your shelves. 

Read a book by an unknown (to you) author. 

… I wish I did all of the above on a daily basis. Whenever I feel uninspired, I try to do at least something from the above list. I can tell you for sure, that going out for a 30 minute walk in the evening has been the most effective one of all.

Do you ever have a creative hiatus? How do you nourish your creativity? I would love to know!

The Art of Foggy Mornings

“People see fogs, not because they are fogs, but because poets and painters have taught them the mysterious loveliness of such effects. There may have been fogs for centuries in London. I dare say there were. But no one saw them, and so we know nothing about them.
Fogs did not exist until Art had invented them.” (Oscar Wilde)

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It was 6.30 am in the morning of the 1st November. I opened my eyes and got out of bed after the fifth buzz of an alarm clock. I began my regular morning routine, starting with a quick workout and the usual huge breakfast I make for both of us day after day. Looking out of the window, I noticed the unusual brightness which enveloped the streets in front of the house I live in. I realised that the first day of November brought us not only the bitter sweet notion of nature’s dormant state, but also thrust us forcefully into a thick white cloud of serenity and yearnings that often come when everything falls into an inevitable sleep.

I realised, that this was the day when I had to fulfil a promise I made (to myself) the night before. Just the night before I was browsing photos of London covered in heavy fog, thinking that I have to go out in the fog the next time it strikes. And it did, the morning after.

You know, just then I tried to understand what it is about London’s fog that fascinates people. I remembered what Oscar Wilde said: “Fogs did not exist until Art had invented them”.

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I think it’s not just the fog, but any natural phenomena that fascinates people. And something so fascinating must have an artistic explanation. No, not even an explanation, but artistic expression, mystery and romanticism, all of which allow us to look at the brighter side of any phenomena that may somehow interrupt our daily routines and habits. Just like the fog did to me in the morning of the 1st November, forcing me to get out into the mysterious blindness of its being.

As I walked down the river Thames, overlooking London’s iconic sights and places that attract enormous crowds of tourists, I inhaled the peacefulness of a damp morning air and got lost in tranquility of empty riverside. I inhaled the smell of late autumn, of leaves that were gracefully descending onto the ground, knowing that they will never find their place on that tree ever again, interchanged later in spring by their younger counterparts.

The true art of fog is in the moment, which you have to seize and savour before it turns into a fragile memento of  being, into a dream, which mingles like the tiny droplets on the palm of your hand and in the air around you, obscuring the vision of time. Its true beauty is in the now, in the current which becomes a moment of past every second you spend absorbing the phenomena with your whole being.

There is no other meaning of fog other than art. As the meaning given by art serves us the greatest purpose.

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Meanings, Colours and Beautiful Primrose Hill.

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I never know how to start a new post, what catchphrase to come up with, what single sentence to say which would catch the attention of a reader. I mean, they say that the first three words are the most crucial ones when you are trying to involve a reader in your text.

Well… One thing is certain, this post is not going to be a tutorial on “How to retain audience’s attention”.  I haven’t actually decided myself what this post is going to be about. I often want to write something personal, something which translates my mood, emotions, thoughts onto a blank screen of computer. I want to open up and tell my own story. At the same time, I want to give value, give something special to my reader, open the world to them; the world I live in and the world that exists without my own being in it.

This is why I want to write about London. The city I love, and the city I struggle to find flattering quotes about from the classical literature. Curiously, the classics seemed to treat London as the city of sins, the city of lucre, or as Oscar Wilde once said, – the city that is “entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics.” Please, please, please someone tell me that I understood it all wrong, that there are hidden meanings and connotations in this quote which I didn’t read through properly!

Regardless of the classics’ opinions, no one can deny the beauty of this city. This isn’t the kind of beauty you see from a distance by casting a quick glance. You might not fall in love with it instantly, from the first sight or even from the first encounter. You might have to look again, one more time, or ten times more. You might have to learn to be more grateful, to look deeper, to search for the bright side in every moment you spend walking down the crowded shopping districts, hectic labyrinths of London Underground, historical streets,  tranquil parks or sleepy suburbs. You might have to learn to appreciate sunshine, fall in love with the rain and face direction of a strong northern wind which playfully, or sometimes aggressively messes up your hair (especially after you put that extra effort in the morning).

See? This is why I never know what to write about. I follow the direction of the wind, which messes up my thoughts as I write them down on a blank screen or on a piece of paper.

I want to tell you about Primrose Hill.

It was once a part of a great chase, appropriated by Henry VIII. Raising up 63 meters above the sea level, this was once a place where duels were fought and prize-fights took place, and today it opens up to one of the best views of London you can get. Facts, facts, facts…. Who cares about facts? Well, some people do, including you, who is reading this right now… But I don’t. And it is all fine. I’m not the kind of person to talk about facts. I’m more into literature, into ethereal, unrealistic, romantic… not as much factual. But I strongly admire those who know facts, who can remember or care enough about factual information.

Primrose Hill to me was a place of tranquility on a colourless October day. You know how sometimes colours escape your palette, and everything that’s left is nothingness, a vacuum, a black hole that sucks all your colours out? It was that kind of day.

As soon as I entered the serene alley that led me to a beautiful park, filled with life and sunshine, colours seemed to return to where they belong. You see what I mean? There is always a place in London where colours rise in opacity, regain saturation and bring joy to human beings’ soul. Whether you do or do not enjoy the energy of the city, you can escape to a remote area and see the city from the distance. See the powerful walls of the concrete jungle (if one may call London so) as if it were on a palm of one’s hand.

There is something mesmerising about the city which looks so small, about looking down at the scene that usually rises up high above you. You finally see the bigger picture, notice the insignificance of your fears and anxieties which don’t exist in a bigger picture; notice how everything becomes small and extraneous. Nothing matters. The only thing that matters is your being. Your presence, your union with the moment which will likely never repeat the same way.

And what about London? Just give it a hundred second chances. Trust me. Every next one will be different.

…home

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What is “Home” to you?

That is the question that someone has asked me [and a bunch of other people] a year ago, and until now it stuck with me without a clear answer. I have never thought about it until a year ago, however, I always knew that this is more than a question to me. “Home” to me needs a deeper definition, it has a deeper meaning, which still remains uncertain in my mind.

I believe that I haven’t acquired “home” yet. Of course there is a place where I was born and lived for the biggest part of my life yet, and there is also a place where my memories live, where I become utterly nostalgic, where I long to be, where I hate to be, where I would never live again. These are all places that to some extent can be called a “home”.

I still remember the answers that were offered by the other people; “Home” is… where you feel loved; where you feel like you belong; where you were born; where your parents live”… Although they are all right in a personal sense, as “home” has a different meaning to each individual, however, these definitions are far from what I feel.

Very often we describe it with the feelings that we want to receive when we are at home. We say that someone is ought to love us or someone should welcome us in a place that can be called our “home”. We say that our home has to warm us up or it should feed us and make us happy… The truth is, [more like my truth], that home isn’t any of the above. “Home” doesn’t owe us anything and it doesn’t have to make us feel loved or happy. Quite opposite, I believe that “home” can be acquired when the individual puts an effort into it. “Home” is something that you give your love to, that you make a happy place to be, that you welcome in your heart and warm it with your feelings and emotions. This is a place that you create and provide for. In the same way you must work to create a happy relationship, you must work hard to create a place that will be called a “home”. This is a relationship of both ends, and in order for “home” to be place that welcomes you, you must welcome it first.

That is the reason why I am still looking for the answer to the questions that is “what is home to you?”. I believe that I still haven’t welcomed my home into my heart, I am still looking for that place that I will love and work hard to build a successful relationship with. To some extent, I am afraid to limit myself to one relationship, to one place and to one definition of this broad and difficult term.

Whilst writing this, I come to a thought that my home is the universe, my home is the planet that I love and I am amazed by. This is a place where I was born, but it is also a place that I love and I want to cherish as much as I can. I haven’t seen my home in its full beauty, but I have discovered some parts of it. I want to know it better, I want to become a part of it, I want to give it all my love and welcome it fully in my heart. The universe is my home, I am no citizen of one country [mentally] and my heart is not limited to one culture or one nationality.

I will definitely find you, dear home.

Notting Hill: Introduction

So you’ve heard about this pretty little area in London called Notting Hill?

It attracts loads of tourists and Londoners alike with its pretty little houses, huge antique market on Portobello road and extremely romantic atmosphere – the one you experience watching British romance dramas…

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It is true that this area owes its fame partially to Roger Michell’s film called Notting Hill, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Being very run down for the most of the 20th Century, Notting Hill today is a trendy area with loads of coffee shops and cute doorways, so popular amongst instagrammers and bloggers across London.

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There is truly something magical about this area, something that makes you want to visit it over and over again, wander through the quiet streets looking for hidden mews, alleys and little cafés located all over the districts.

In my next posts I will take you through Notting Hill’s best breakfast, lunch and dinner spots, as well as take you on a tour across the area’s most wonderful sights and streets, including Portobello road market and hidden colorful sights you will find as you step out from the main antique market street.