Confessions of a social media abstainer

As we walked through Hyde Park today my boyfriend and I noticed the countless number of selfies being taken and conversation wandered on to the topic of self-promotion on social media.

What was the purpose of these selfies and why was so much effort being taken to get them perfect? No doubt many of the selfies were being taken with Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook as their end destination, most likely enhanced by filters and accompanied by any number of hashtags.

The selfie takers were largely quite young and it appeared that they were more caught up in capturing themselves basking in the late afternoon sun on camera than actually savouring and enjoying the moment for what it was. This seemed like a shame to us but we are not sixteen anymore and we really don’t get the appeal of broadcasting our every moment to the outside world.

Over the years I have had a Facebook profile but have never been particularly active on it or comfortable about posting status updates and photos. Largely my Facebook profile sits there dormant, until my birthday rolls around and people post birthday wishes or people tag me in photos.

For the most part I use Facebook for its messenger, to remind me of friends’ birthdays, and to receive event invitations. I also like to have the occasional scroll to see my friends’ travel or wedding photos, but that is the extent of my involvement.

By only using Facebook I am most likely perceived as a social media laggard, someone who is behind the times and not up to speed with the latest trends. My friends often tell me that I absolutely must get on Instagram. It is so much fun posting photos they say, and everyone is on there (apart from me of course).

The thing about Instagram, as fun as it may seem, is that it seems like something that is going to drain my time. One of my friends once told me that she wastes countless hours on Instagram scrolling through the people and companies she follows.

I decided that considering my past addiction to the Daily Mail celebrity sidebar, having Instagram and following countless people would not be a good idea for me, so I decided to abstain from Instagram completely which is a decision I haven’t regretted to this day.

On top of this, I simply can’t be bothered taking photos of every meal I eat or every place I visit in the weekends. I am simply too lazy and am more than happy to just have my memories, as much as they may fade.

Don’t get me wrong, an awful lot of people love social media and seem to get a lot out of it, but I read an article recently about the effect of social media on young people which concerned me.

This article stated that Instagram and Snapchat ranked as the worst social media for impact on mental health and well-being, largely because “both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”

No doubt this inadequacy and anxiety is not simply limited to young people, inevitably it affects us all. People post perfectly composed selfies and images of their so-called amazing lives, painting a finely polished picture to everyone looking in, which then leads others to look at their own lives and lament the lack of excitement in their lives by comparison. It is a form of ‘Keeping up with the Jones’s’ and it is not healthy.

Taking all of this into account, this is why I am a social media abstainer. I think we could all benefit from taking a step back away from our phones and the keyboard and simply enjoying each moment for what it is, and not what a great Instagram or Facebook post it would make.

Confessions of a minimalist hoarder

Recently I have spent a lot of time looking into the concept of minimalism and what it would mean for me to start minimizing my life.

I love the idea of eliminating aspects of life and material possessions that are bringing you little or no value. It is a process of de-cluttering not only your physical space, but also freeing up your mental space, so that you are able to focus more clearly on what you find to be truly important.

Historically I have been a bit of a hoarder. To clarify, I am not a hoarder in the sense that my house is so crammed with things that there is no visible floor space, but in the past I have had a hard time saying goodbye to things that I’ve held some kind of nostalgic attachment to.

I have clung on to old movie tickets for years to the point where the writing has faded beyond comprehension. I keep mementos from all of my holidays – postcards, old ticket stubs, brochures and other paraphernalia I picked up along the way. I cling to clothing that I haven’t worn in years with the thought that one day there may be an occasion to wear them…one day. My PVR is filled with TV recordings and movies I am adamant that I will watch when I can find the time – which is often never.

At the beginning of the year I decided to reverse some of my hoarder tendencies by clearing out most of the old clothes I had left behind at my parents’ house. As a former charity shopper I had piles and piles of clothing to sift through and set aside to donate and the feeling of clearing everything out was positively liberating.

After going through the process of eliminating so many clothes I realised that I have more than enough clothes, to the point that I really shouldn’t be buying any more. So as part of my attempt to become more minimal I have decided that I am not going to buy any new clothing unless I have items that are close to falling apart and need to be replaced. So far so good – I haven’t bought anything for three months and counting.

As part of reclaiming my time I have become more purposeful about how I spend my free moments. As an avid reader of the news I noticed that the largely negative focus of mainstream news on my commutes would start my days off with a cloud of negativity hanging over me.

I realised that part of clearing my mind in the morning would involve cultivating a meditative state and reading more optimistic articles, all of which has helped me to start the day from a more upbeat and positive place.

Another tenet of minimalism is to consume less and create more, which is where this blog comes in. Being productive and creating content as opposed to simply consuming it all the time has given me a more purposeful way to spend my free time.

Adding to that, the act of writing has not only provided a great form of creative expression, it has also provided me with time to focus and centre myself, akin to a state of meditation.

With all of the changes I have made towards leading a more minimal life, I can see that they have gradually made me happier and healthier by extension.

There is further to go, more ways that I can minimize going forward, but starting the journey is the hardest part and I feel good about the fact that I am on the path to a simpler, more minimal life.

Minimal