When I kinda really didn’t…
I’d say I have a healthy-ish relationship with my phone. I notice times when it’s been in my grips a little too much on one day and spend the next with it out of arms reach and on silent. I’m a big believer of the ‘no phones at the dinner table’ rule and although I often find myself tapping away before bed (night mode is EVERYTHING), I try to read long-form articles from Man Repeller, BoF, Into The Gloss and NYT, instead of mindlessly scrolling feeds because who can resist thumbing through dark wall interior inspiration and pasta recipes until midnight?
Part of the plan of heading to New Zealand for a month was that not only would it be a bloody brilliant honeymoon (and it most definitely was!), it was also that I’d take a real proper break from posting on social media, which is something that I’ve done most days since I started back in 2010 with the odd week off here and there. I love what I do, so it wasn’t that I needed a break; more just a chance to press reset and return with some juice in the ol’ battery. I didn’t set myself too many rules – the only being that I wasn’t going to pre-scheudle any posts or videos or publish on Instagram and Twitter regularly. Never having been away for that long before, on the other side of the world, or even away for Christmas, I wasn’t too sure how it would all pan out.
I’m sure according to the mindfulness scriptures I should have locked my phone in a drawer at home, thrown it in the sea or kept it in my bag with airplane mode firmly switched on, never to be switched back. You know what though? I wasn’t on some kind of meditation retreat, I was having a great time with my outdoorsy husband and I wanted to take some pictures of the beautiful views and send them to my parents dammit! I wanted to send them a video of us almost being blown off the top of the mountain whilst battling hail. The panoramic I took of Mark having his breakfast slap bang next to a lake in the morning. I sent nervy flyer Lily a video of me riding a 9 seater mini plane over to the south island with the caption ‘This is your worst nightmare‘. SHOCKER: I USED MY PHONE.
Even more of a shocker, I stayed up to date with social media *insert sarcastic gasp*. I might not have been posting, but I still had a browse of Twitter, my Instagram feed, YouTube (although I can count the videos I watched on one hand because we rarely had amazing WiFi). It wasn’t because I felt like I was missing out or that I should keep my toe dipped in so not to ‘drop the ball’, it was because I actually enjoyed it. Friends I follow had babies, got married and isn’t the community just a nice bunch? Was I at the top of a mountain trying to find 3G? Heck no. But let me tell you that seven hour car journeys are LONG and sometimes it felt nice to catch up with friends and see what everyone was up to, because I’m not sure that Mark wanted to listen to me do a very serious rendition of Maroon 5’s ‘She Will Be Loved’ for the tenth time.
Here’s the thing though – and it’s only occurred to me since our return – I think this period of consuming whilst not putting out anything to consume has actually shifted my outlook when it comes to being a blogger. I didn’t want to spend hours glued to my phone whilst we were away and so cherrypicked the content that I actually wanted to view, just the real good stuff from topics and creators that jumped out at me. I always try to stand by the mantra of ‘create what you like to consume‘ and so this post-free holiday allowed me to really nail the latter part of that.
The overriding theme was that I enjoy content from people who keep it real. It’s so cliché, but I like to hear about what my favourites are getting up to – whether it’s the mundane, to the the outright glitzy. I enjoy people’s content because they’re the ones who are making it, it’s the personality that I’m in to and if they’re talking about what’s in their fridge or their wardrobes – I’m interested. I feel like I’ve got my breadth of content down, but maybe I need to work on me a little more. I might be a Class A Virgo, but I’m also a class clown and although I feel like that’s something I can convey in my writing because – HELLO EDITING! – in videos I find it harder to chill the ‘F’ out because being on camera is inherently weird. It’s eight years since I made my first video and I still get heart palpitations when I switch on record *cue visible sweat patches two minutes later*.
Speaking of videos, the ones that I like to watch are ones that are usually filmed on a vlog camera, with minimal set-up and are more like you’re chatting with your mate about beauty, boys and the new place that’s opened down the road that you must go for brunch at. I’ve enjoyed stepping it up a notch with my blog photography over the past two years (I seriously can’t thank Lauren enough for making me not look like a Moomin in every shot), but when it comes to Instagram (I’ve taken all my pictures for the past year either on my vlog camera or my phone), Instagram Stories and YouTube videos I like the idea of it being a bit more rough around the edges. After all if we go back to the ‘create what you like to consume’ thing, I’m much more likely to watch a 20 minute video of someone talking through their wardrobe favourites, than I am to watch a three minutes cut-down lookbook. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but I like ’em ramble-full and mostly music free, so I can watch videos as I mill around doing other tasks. So from now on expect ’em laid back and long.
On a smaller note, I discovered a couple of things that were specific to Instagram Stories. Firstly as someone who rarely has their phone off silent, I’m such a skipper of stories that require sound. You may have noticed since I’ve been back I’ve been a little heavy with the text (remember to hold your finger on the screen to pause!), and that’s why. I love Hannah Gale’s style of IG-storying and have been missing her updates as she takes maternity leave – hope you’re well love! I’ve also stopped trying to make my stories look aesthetically pleasing. We’ve got enough super curated content to flick through as it is, so if you want to see the current state of the mid-renovation flat that contains the builder’s tools in every nook and cranny then so be it. The other thing is that I do actually tend to use the swipe up feature, especially when it comes to reading suggested articles and new posts from my favourites. In fact I think I prefer it to Twitter at the moment. I KNOW. Although Instagram definitely need to come up with a better way of replying and keeping track of DM’s as the backend is currently a bit of a mare, but I do read them all and often have a little chuckle at your replies.
So there you have it. I feel like this wasn’t a particularly jolly post, but sometimes it’s good to take a step back, pause and reflect. I’m so pleased that I had a break from posting whilst I was away, because ultimately it feels like I’ve been able to press the reset button and start the new year with a clearer vision of what I want this little corner of the Internet to look like. So here’s to sweat patches, long-ass videos and Instagram stories with more text on than you can shake a stick at.
Photos by Lauren Shipley
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