Like most people, I’ve come to accept that social media is just part of our lives these days. It’s there all day, every day, right at our fingertips and accessible in seconds, making it hard to take a break from it.
I’m such a sucker for tapping into social media on my phone at any given moment. I scroll through Twitter for my morning news, get updates from my family on Facebook and follow my friends’ lives through Instagram stories. Practically half my life is played out online; it’s just a habit I’ve fallen into and, to be completely honest, never really had any intention of breaking.
That is, until Reading Festival.
I spent five days in a field, surrounded by tents, portaloos and tens of thousands of other people, where my phone was rendered pretty much useless – except for capturing drunken candids on camera and using the torch to avoid tripping over the maze of guy ropes at night. But an internet connection? Forget about it!
I could just about refresh my social medias once a day (usually in a desperate attempt to find secret set rumours!) and reply to a couple of messages that managed to sneak through, but that was basically it. Endless scrolling was completely off the table.
At first I found it quite frustrating, but it ended up being a very welcome break that I didn’t even know I needed. It was so refreshing to not fall back on my phone and, as we were all in the same boat, no-one was glued to a screen and we relied on each other to fill the gaps.
I’m not saying that now I’m back in the world of hot showers and flushing toilets (thank god!) that I won’t go back to my old ways. I’m sure I’ll be tapping away on my morning commute and retweeting before bed as always; in all honesty, I can’t see that changing anytime soon.
But I feel grateful that a real break from social media was forced upon me because it does have its downsides. Whether it’s comparing ourselves to insta-models and their picture-perfect lives or getting wound up by Twitter trolls, there’s always one aspect or another of social media that takes its toll on our mental health. I don’t think we realise when we’re mindlessly tapping into these apps every day just how much that can mess with our heads.
I don’t expect us all to just switch off right here and now, but if you’re going away somewhere – be it a festival, holiday, mini-break or just to some sort of occasion or day out – perhaps consider logging off for a while.
You’ll thank yourself, I promise.