When did you last check your Instagram feed? Your Facebook timeline? Your Snapchat stories? Anyone who loves to post on social media, hell, anyone in our generation, knows just how addictive social media can be, and how it can edge into the 'real' world. And the fine line between social media and reality can become even thinner as a blogger.
When Instagram is a money-making job, it's even more difficult not to get completely wrapped up in the online world. I'm sure the influencers among you have felt what I like to call 'the itch' to check Instagram all the time. It's like my fingers have a mind of their own sometimes when they open the Instagram app and check my notifications or start scrolling through my feed.
Recently, even though I was on holiday, I found it difficult to 'switch off' from Instagram and blogging. As a blogger, I do see almost everything as an opportunity to create content.
'Those marble tables in that cafe would make a great coffee flatlay.'
'Those tiles over there have the makings of an amazing "shoefie"'. '
'The lighting in this bathroom/changing room/ friend's bedroom would be great for a mirror selfie.'
These are the thoughts always racing through my head. I love what I do - I love taking photos and creating content - so naturally, I do find them difficult to 'switch off'.
I took a three-day break from posting - mostly to save my own sanity because of my frustration at the Instagram algorithm (but that's a whole different post). Even though me and Instagram were technically on a 'break' (read why I think it's okay to take a break more generally here), I still regularly checked my DMs and scrolled through my feed - plus Instagram stories became my new outlet. So at what point does social media become an addiction, an obsession?
I think the point at which it becomes unhealthy is when social media starts to take priority over your 'real life'. At my 21st birthday lunch, I was with my parents - who I hadn't seen in months - but I seemed to find it of greater priority to get as many Instagrammable photos as possible. I seemed to feel a need to get photos of me in front of the restaurant, on the roofdeck, sat down at the table, of the meal I was eating; spending so long doing this that I interrupted dinner and barely had time to eat. Not only that, but I realised that I had upset my parents by behaving this way - being more interested in taking photos than actually having a conversation with them about how life had been going.
Other times I've noticed myself neglecting conversation with friends because for some reason, I felt I had to post on Instagram every night at 9pm, otherwise my following/engagement would go downhill. Even on holiday, I felt guilty for constantly badgering my parents to take photos of me, even though this was partly due to a pressure I feel to create regular content. My parents and friends have been wonderfully patient and helpful; but I know for them it must be irritating, as the majority of my close circle aren't bloggers/content creators themselves. The last thing I want is to irritate the people who have been most supportive of me and this blog.
So sometimes I have to literally step back and remind myself (as a part-time blogger) that what I call my 'real life priorities' are far more important. Some of you, especially those that blog full-time, may find it redundant to differentiate between the two - but I find it helpful to draw a clear distinction, because blogging is only a part (albeit an important part) of my life. I'd almost never prioritise writing a blog post or attending a networking event over a night with my closest friends, for example. Before, I used to spend hours heavily-editing photos, stressing over my posts and freaking out if my engagement was low. Now I'm just going to take a 'natural' approach to social media and take any success as it comes.
How do you guys strike a balance between Instagram/social media and your 'real life' commitments? Do you also find this challenging?