Do you spend hours scrolling through social media or newly-discovered websites? Do you close down your laptop screen and realise you have no idea what you've been reading or what new information you have actually taken in?
Recently I've been thinking over how much time I spend in the online world: browsing the internet, posting on this blog and on social media. While living for the moment and alongside nature is of great importance to me, I also thrive on educating and inspiring others, and one of the best places to do this is online. Blogging and running an online business has opened so many doors for me, and has pushed me to live the lifestyle I desire, encouraging and guiding me along with my double-stacked bookshelves of hardbacks and novels at home. It's something that I was never really sure I would keep up with, but which now takes up much of my spare time in the evenings and at weekends, and as such the amount of time I spend in the online world seems to be increasing.
My slow approach to life, though, doesn't always go hand-in-hand with this use of technology, and I find it a useful exercise to remind myself of my online priorities to ensure I don't get carried away and lose sight of what I really come online to achieve.
As such, I don't post regularly on all social media sites. I have no idea what Periscope is, or what Google+ is for. I pin, but not regularly, and am not the sort of person to post every single moment of my life on Instagram. I tweet, post photographs of beautiful flowers and try to connect as much as possible with people rather than focus too heavily on building a following. Of course, having a certain amount of followers is beneficial when you want to reach out to people with a new offering, but really I'd rather have 10 people who loved what I was writing about, 10 people who took the time to engage with the content and maybe even send an email over to thank me, than 1000 people who click on it once and don't even bother to skim read what's there.
For me the best part of blogging is getting that email or that comment that shows I've really reached out to someone, or I've inspired them to live the life they desire, rather than the one society dictates they should follow. It's difficult sometimes to set an aim for what we do, but if I were to do such a thing for Creative Countryside, my aim would be to inspire, guide and encourage you to forget what everyone else is doing online and focus on life's simple pleasures, making time for what you love instead of getting caught in the whirlwind of modern life. If something new comes along, don't be afraid to say - no thanks, not this time.
You might be reading this post thinking that yes, actually, you probably do spend longer than you'd like online without ever really achieving anything. If this sounds like you, then you might like to try out these tips for approaching the online world a little more slowly:
- Restrict yourself to just 3 social media sites that you post on regularly. I have Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and keeping up with these 3 can sometimes be an uphill struggle; coping with any more is just a waste of my time.
- Decide on when you want to be online and set aside a certain amount of time to spend - have a limit and make sure you stick to it (I find an hour is sufficient for any kind of social media / blog reading).
- If you can do it offline, make the switch. If I can give someone a call rather than messaging them online then I will do. If I can draft a post by hand rather than typing frantically straight into the new post window then I will do. Connect with the real world whenever possible.
- If you're experiencing online overload and feel fatigued with the amount of time you've spent browsing then escape outdoors as soon as possible. Go for a walk and leave your phone at home; forget about the fact you haven't commented on that post you wanted to, or the fact you've forgotten to tweet about your new course - just leave those stresses behind and when you come back you'll be refreshed and ready to start again.
- Make the time you do spend online valuable: remember to connect with people rather than a faceless follower. Focus on building relationships rather than a following and the rest will come naturally (one of the most important things I've realised this past year!).
So don't ever expect to see me much over on social media, and you won't find me posting on here every day, but I hope that when I do post or connect about anything that there's a meaning behind it.