blogging advice

Chat: Scroll-Free September

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Scroll-Free September: Are you downing your devices this September? 

The Royal Public Health Society is targeting users of social media, asking them to put their devices down this September. And I’m backing them.

Wait a second. A blogger telling people to switch off? Isn’t that kinda like a writer standing up in the middle of a conference and suggesting everyone puts their pens down?

Yes and no.

I’m not suggesting all bloggers will suddenly pick up their guitars and skip around the Alps like Maria Von Trapp to live a happier and more wholesome life. The question isn’t whether you support Scroll-Free September. The question is to what extent will you apply the principle.

Hear me out.

I use Twitter in two different ways. Sometimes there is a purpose – to attend a chat, to advertise a blog-post or to actively engage with the blogging community. I might make a window of 20 minutes to respond to other people’s tweets. During that time, although I am on Social Media, there is some purpose. Interaction is part of being a blogger. I not only need to engage with my audience. I love talking to people online. 

Links between social media and stress. 

Then there are the times I’m just … scrolling through. You know. Liking random stuff. Adding my voice to conversations when in reality I don’t have much to say. Those times when I look at the clock and realise precious life, precious writing and editing time has been spent doing nothing much at all.

On Friday evenings I make dedicated blog time. Most weeks, this is when I get the bulk of my blog-writing done. This system works well. It would work even better if I didn’t flick on to Twitter and Instagram every six minutes. Have you been there? Have you turned the computer on to do a job and found yourself mid-conversation talking about cat pictures or who your wingman would be during a zombie apocalypse, or whether custard-creams are better than bourbons? (The answer, folks, is no. No, they are not.) Cutting down social media makes our work more efficient. I see the difference in my writing. I know when my mind was wholly engaged in the blog post and when it was 80% taken-up with the Twittersphere.

There is another reason to cut down on social media usage. A better reason.

Social media is essentially a stream of opinions, adverts, causes, and information. Imagine six-hundred people shouting their opinions and feelings at you, all at the same time. It’s a lot of information to take in a short space. 

Is this an anti-social media thread? Not at all. I have formed friendships online and learned things I didn’t know and empathised with people from all over the world. There is a lot of good in social media. That’s why I won’t be going Scroll-Free this September. However, I am thinking about the principle.

This September I will: 

  • Not use social media when I am doing other jobs. This includes blogging.
  • Only scroll for set periods of time, and use that time to engage with people in my network.
  • Mute conversations when I need some head-space. We need to listen to other voices, but in real life we have the option to enter or leave a conversation. It is OK to use the mute-button to manage anxiety.
  • Turn off my social media for one day every weekend.

At the start of this piece, I asked whether turning off social media was any different to asking other people to down their hobbies. I think the difference is the constant stream of information we are subjected to online. Imagine trying to write a novel with 600 voices vying for your attention. That’s the difference.

Since I started blogging, social media has had a special place in my life and I don’t think it is going anywhere. However, the Scroll-Free September campaign has raised some valid points and I want to apply the principle to benefit my mental health and get the most out of my social media time.

 

Will you change the way you use social media? What do you find hardest about life online? What are the high points? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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13 thoughts on “Chat: Scroll-Free September

  1. I’ve started to gradually change my social media habits. I was spending hours a day scrolling endlessly and checking several social media accounts several times a day. I’ve moved facebook and snapchat (my least used accounts) to a separate page on my phone and only go on them once a day, and limit scrolling to 10 minutes at a time. I’m now so much more in the moment, and have more conversations with people in ‘real life’ instead of scrolling or messaging people!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I’m going to be trying to cut down on social media use and start reading more! I feel like when I go online I get lost and completely lose track of time then stress out that I lost precious reading time and time to spend with my family. I feel so much better when I back away from my phone and my laptop for a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is really interesting and I never knew scroll-free September was a thing! I do find myself wasting ages scrolling through tweets and never really achieving much. I could probably do with doing something similar and see how much more productive I am. Social media can be great, but it’s also really distracting. Thanks for sharing Louise and all the best with the challenge 💖 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am doing scroll free Sept, I don’t contribute to social media very much but I spend a lot of time endlessly scrolling! I’m going full cold turkey and looking forward to the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me know how you get on. Full CT didn’t fit in with my blog (trust me – I’ve had a couple of weeks off in the 18 months I’ve been blogging and it always has an effect. I support the principle though – half of us don’t even notice we’re doing it. Best of luck. 🙂

      Like

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