Social media is a complicated beast. In some ways, it enriches our lives, allowing us to keep up with people we would have otherwise lost touch with. It delivers new recipes, book recommendations, and movie reviews without us even searching for them. But then, social media also does something else. It creates a culture where everyone feels the need to be “on” all the time. There’s no rest for the socially awkward. Nope, we’ve got to be on it. Food styled, hair did, and eyebrows #onfleek from sunup to sundown because, thanks to social media, someone is always watching. . .and judging.
We recently read an article on Medium that raised a red flag. It’s becoming clear that this can all wreak havoc on us creatively. It can be paralyzing to scroll through pages and pages of photo-evidence of people’s success. It can cause you to freeze in panic, piles of flowers in front of you, mason jars lined up. The last thing you want is to create something imperfect. Everything you do has to be photo-worthy. Never mind what you want to do or what you feel compelled to do. A fear of failure can completely stop you because it’s not just you and your client watching. It’s you, your client, all your friends, your elementary school teacher, your mom, all of her friends, and every business contact you’ve ever made. Before long, your flowers are wilting and you’re stress eating cheese. This is one of the many reasons a social media fast can be the very thing that not only saves you, but sets you apart from your competition. At OTR, we like to take breaks from social media every few weeks, even just for a day. Here are just a few of the incredible ways these mini-fasts fuel our creativity
>You’ll explore ideas that are uniquely yours without fear of judgment. Sometimes, trying a new creative idea can be scary. It’s tough to trust yourself when you spend the time leading up to execution of a creative idea looking at perfectly staged photos. Instead, try sketching your ideas. You’ll be able to see your vision clearly and make tweaks before you use your raw materials. At OTR, we find doing it this way keeps our ideas fresh, allowing us to create things that are completely original. It also calls us back to childhood. We save our sketches; a great reminder that even the planning can be rewarding.
>You’ll begin to have a clearer vision of the things you produce. When you actually live in the here and now, you’re able to see things for what they are, not what others say they should be. Sometimes, we are apt to say something is done “wrong” if it doesn’t match something we’ve seen before. Removing ourselves from the comparison game allows us to see our creative projects with fresh eyes, often giving us the freedom to see beauty instead of immediately finding flaws.
>You’ll find new inspiration. Doing the same thing day in and day out will put anyone into a creative rut. Replacing your morning scroll through Facebook with a meditation or even some quiet time with coffee and a book will get your day started a little differently, your brain firing on all cylinders. By easing into the day like this, and maybe pocketing your phone during your Uber or train ride to work, you’re even more likely to notice inspiration on your commute. Interesting architectural shapes, gardenscapes, and even graffiti you would have otherwise looked straight past (or ignored while staring at your phone) could inspire great ideas.
>Your confidence will soar. We often find ourselves shrinking back, wondering if we’re doing everything we should be doing, and if we’re doing it right. If you’re not worried about thousands of people judging you and what you’re doing, you might just find yourself standing a bit taller. For us, this is the best side effect of a mini-break. It’s like a breath of fresh air and a complete removal of the burden of fear and anxiety. We are big fans of "trusting your gut" and this allows you to tap in faster without the background noise.
>You’ll be a better leader. Within a few days of starting a social media fast, you will find that you’re less likely to second guess yourself, and more likely to give thoughtful, clear, concise direction. For us, even an hour of social media fasting before an event setup can give us time to review our lists rather than obsessing over what we could do if given a little more time.
Taking a break from social media is not only advisable, sometimes it’s an essential part of feeling okay. Very few of us are able to withstand being in the spotlight all the time. And I bet even those of us who are okay with it yearn for the days when it was normal, and not an act of rebellion to walk to breakfast in sweats and no makeup (and to take a bite of food before taking a photo of your plate). So go ahead, give yourself a break. Your creative mind will say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Maybe if Britney had done a social media fast she wouldn’t have ended up bald and swinging that umbrella. Just sayin’.