I quit social media (for almost 2 weeks)

I quit social media (for almost 2 weeks)

When I decided to quit social media I thought it would be for good. Then I remembered I am a journalist who needs to live and breathe news and have my finger on the pulse of the entity that is the Internet.

I was sure I was going to change my life and break my addiction to my mobile.

Now, not so much.

I’ll be the first to admit, I need my phone. I need it just as much as I need to know the latest on Scott Disick and Kourtney Kardashian.

They say the average person looks at their phone 1500 times a day. If you work it out, that’s 90 minutes a day, 23 days a year and 3.9 years of your life. It’s beyond insane.

My decision to quit social media came after a discussion with a friend about how technology has changed everything that our parents once knew; dating, the way we communicate, or rather the way we don’t communicate. And the irony of documenting a night out with friends to portray it on Instagram as ‘the best night ever’, rather than actually enjoying the moment.

Personally, I find nothing more annoying than trying to have a conversation with someone who is looking at their phone. I am a firm believer that no one is more important than the person you are with.

It was only when I read an article about ‘phubbing’ (phone snubbing) ruining relationships that I realised I was a phubber in my own relationship. I also saw photos where the photographer removed the phone from the image to show how bazaar our addiction to our phones is. I decided then and there it was time to quit social media.

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Phubbing. By Eric Pickersgill
Everyone was doing it, Essena O’Neill I’m looking at you, so I thought I’d give it a go. How hard could it be?

Answer: hard.

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Essena quit social media (and then begged for her rent money)

On the first day, I found myself reaching for my phone when I sat down to eat my lunch, to take a quick snap for my friends. Or reaching for my phone at traffic lights – a habit that is just as much illegal as it is extremely sad.

I found myself with spare time, a foreign concept for someone used to filling every minute with news feeds and pretty Insta pictures. On my first day, I wrote not one, but two blogs. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that is very unusual for me.

I recently read an article that explained that boredom is the last privilege of a free mind. These days, when we are bored our first instinct is to pick up our smartphones, or engage with some sort of screen. But guess what, actually using your brain to think is the best antidote to boredom.

Without Facebook giving me the news I should be interested in, I actually had to search news pages for the latest events. An unfamiliar notion to me, the aspiring journalist. Ah, the irony.

We are the first generation that doesn’t need to search for our information; rather it is delivered to us via social media algorithms that determines what we should be interested in, then BAM it appears in our news feed. I am guilty of the morning scroll; waking up and reaching for my mobile is just as part of my morning routine as brushing my teeth.

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Soul sucking screens
On day two, I picked up my smartphone, fingers hovering over the place my Facebook icon once sat. But instead, I put my phone down and just thought. For a technology dependent Gen Y, it is a weird process. No screens, no distractions, just me and my brain.

After the first week I was cured of FOMO. Research recently found that Facebook is as addictive as poker machines, with FOMO being the cause. I’ve never liked gambling, but this was something I can relate too. Without Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook I was able to work a whole weekend without being reminded what I was missing out on. My wallet was very thankful.

Day ten, I caved. Yes I was aiming for two weeks, but I am proud of my ten days disconnected.

I realise now that social media isn’t the problem, the way I interact with it is the problem. The compulsive checking had become a burden to my life (and my data) instead of a way to keep in touch with my friends. Like anyone, I want to live a present life which means not obsessing on how other people are living theirs.

It’s definitely a work in progress. Quitting (or at least decreasing) social media is much easier said than done. But I’m trying and I hope that by me making a concious effort to put my phone away, it will make others do the same. Because nothing is more important than the people you are with and the moment you are in. 

10 things I wish I hadn’t learnt when traveling with my Mum

10 things I wish I hadn’t learnt when traveling with my Mum

This year my Mum and I traveled to Thailand for 10 days, and then a few months later, to Canada and Alaska for 3 weeks. Yes, I realise I am very spoilt. I’ve written about what I learnt when traveling with my boyfriend, what I learnt when traveling with my Nan, and now it’s my Mum’s turn.

  1. I learnt that when I travel with my mum I tend to revert to the role of a five year old. I become completely reliant on her for pretty much everything – apart from picking the restaurants and shopping ventures – that is my area of expertise. Whilst being sick in Canada I had flashbacks to my childhood, calling for my Mummy to bring my lozenges, hot tea and pain killers. Did I mention I’m 21? Although, it goes both ways, as there were mornings where I had to coax her out of bed with promises of buttered croissants. And a few times I have to remind her the guy she is flirting with seems to be wearing a wedding ring.
Mum and I, when I was 5. Not just acting like it.
Mum and I, when I was 5. Not just acting like it.
  1. Secrets are revealed and boundaries are broken. I learnt my mum once had a much younger lover shortly after her divorce from my Dad, and I told her (too soon) that I had hocked a pair of her earrings when I was 13. Sorry Mum, still feel guilty about that one.
  1. Once these family secrets and stories start, it is hard to know where to stop. Alcohol induced over-sharing definitely became an issue for us in Thailand. We are already pretty involved in each other’s lives – not in a creepy, handholding in the supermarket way, but we may have matching pyjamas. But there is a level of over sharing that only happens when you’re in holiday mode, and have slugged down 12 sugar-less mojitos.
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Veuve = over-sharing

Chances are you are going to find out things you may not have wanted to know. Like the first time your parents slept together (eww) or reasons for their divorce that weren’t appropriate to tell me 7 years ago. One particular night with a bottle of Veuve (have I made us sound like alcoholics yet?) there were several stories of my mum’s bad dates, bad boyfriends and some bad choices that will remain burned in my brain forever. Thanks, Mum.

  1. We are very alike. Sadly, most of my friends would agree.
  1. They have secret talents beyond doing the laundry, or cooking lasagna. My mum might even be a better writer than me. In Thailand I urged her to finally submit some of her work to be published. I submitted my own work too. Hers was published; mine exceeded their word limit. Yep, that hurt. She is also an amazing singer; a talent I unfortunately did not inherit despite my best efforts.
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Somewhere beautiful in Canada.
  1. You will find out who they were before they were just your personal maid, chef, nurse and item-locater. Warning: you may not want to. My Mum was not quite the image of the innocent teenager that she painted to me when I was younger. There were boys, alcohol, and a little bit of pot. She even had a pair of “pot-smoking pants” which she was wearing the night she met my Dad.* I’m not sure how I feel about this.
  1. And you will find out who they are now. I feel like most people don’t really know their parents. I am not one of them. I probably know too much about my Mum, and she probably knows a little bit too much about me. And I’m okay with that, mostly.
On the beach at Khao Lak.
On the beach at Khao Lak.
  1. I learnt that we should not attempt a duet to Grease’s Summer Nights without rehearsing prior. Or a duet in general.
  1. My mum snores, loudly. It’s probably hereditary. Sorry Toby.
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Another day in paradise.
  1. You will develop a new relationship that no longer exists around discipline; rather, friendship, fabulous food and amazing experiences. You reach a new era, where you can really enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other beyond the boundaries of just mother and daughter.

Okay I guess I am glad I learnt that last one.

* Disclaimer: My Mum hasn’t smoked pot in 30 years, and probably would no longer fit into those hippy pants, just in case anyone was planning on calling DOCS.

10 things you’ll learn when you travel with your partner

10 things you’ll learn when you travel with your partner

Travelling opens your eyes to a whole new world, and it can also open your eyes to a whole new aspect of your relationship. In 2014 and 2015 my boyfriend, Toby, and I went to Bali, this is what I learnt..

  1. Airports suck. They are stressful, they are slow, they are pretty shitty all-round (minus duty-free, of course.) I need a prescription just to make it through the airport without having a panic attack. I’ve learnt (or am trying to learn) not to let it put a dampener on the beginning of you trip. Cudos to Toby for dealing with my psychosis in airports. That’s how I knew he was a keeper.

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    Toby and I crying because Jetstar sucks.
  2. You will fight. If someone tells you they didn’t fight with their partner on their holiday, they are lying or I need to meet them immediately. It will probably be about something stupid, like directions – what is it with guys “winging it” in a foreign country? Or the most common argument that follows the weighted question, “Where do you want to go to dinner tonight?” If you are like me, it may be alcohol-induced. I think it is normal for any couple getting their bearings with the unknown; that be in a new country, or a new stage in their relationship. Let’s face it; to be with anyone in confined spaces can be difficult.
“So, where do you want to eat for dinner?”

3. Speaking of confined spaces, you are going to have to go to the toilet. Especially if your holiday is to a tropical, third-world destination like Bali, or Thailand, where the water is laced with delights that leave you clutching your stomach in sweats. There really is no hiding Bali belly. So the illusion we’ve been creating that “girls don’t poo” is quickly disintegrated. Be prepared. And pack Imodium, and maybe ear plugs because you may hear things that you would prefer not to.

4. Point 2 refers to other bodily functions too, like vomiting. Toby had never seen me vomit before our trip to Bali in 2014, because I’m classy like that. Until I decided (in holiday-mode) it would be fine to drink 300 Long Island ice teas. It wasn’t. And it resulted in me projectile vomiting of one of the famous cliff-bars in Bali with poor Toby holding my tangled hair back. Yep, classy.

The night Toby learnt I vomit after excessive alcohol. Yes, we look very sober.

5. It will bring you closer. You create memories that you’ll hold onto forever – the good and the bad. I don’t think either of us will ever forget the robust laugh of our taxi driver in Bali that referred to us as Kuta and Rhonda, and drove us to McDonald’s at 1am. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (hopefully not, but I definitely did) and you’ll ultimately develop a better understanding of your partner.

Fighting? Never. Look how happy we look.
Fighting? Us? Never.

6. Or it may make you realise you are not meant to be together. Better to find out now then your honeymoon.

7. You will learn new things about each other, and also from each other. Some things you may not want to know – refer to point 2. I learnt my boyfriend is cool, calm and collected under pressure and the polar opposite of me, but it works. I’m pretty sure if we missed our flight he would simply shrug his shoulders – I would spontaneously combust. He still is teaching me patience, and to “go with the flow.” I’ve taught him to appreciate fine dining, and never to settle for cold toast.

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At Ku De Ta. 2014

8. You get an insight into what it would be like to live with your partner, but with an expiration date. It’s the perfect time to test how you would survive living together. You discover who is the neat freak (not me), and who is the messy one (probably me, but hey, I’m on holidays!) But remember, at home you won’t have 24/7 room service, a butler, and a room with the view of the ocean.

9. Guys don’t make very good photographers. They don’t know they need to take at least 6 photos, and that candid photos are better for Instagram.

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Me like, “Lets get a cute beach selfie”. Toby like, “Are you seriously taking more photos?”

10. There’s a level of comfort you gain by travelling with your partner. I remember in the early stages of our relationship, setting my alarm early so I could perfect my “just rolled out of bed” hair and make up, before he awoke – think Kristen Wig in Bridesmaids. But whilst travelling sometimes you just have to say screw it. The first day in Bali my hair was lovely and straight, my make up fresh, only to meet the harsh humidity which caused my already unruly hair to frizz and make up to disappear. By the last few days I was waking up hungover from dancing on bars till 3am, sporting sexy Panda eyes and wearing an oversized tee, stained with the remnants of last nights room service. If Toby can see me like that and still want to be with me, that’s true love.

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We scrub up alright.

Ultimately, there are things that will get on your nerves. There are things that will make you fall more in love with them. There are things that will make you want to stab them in the eye with a fork. But travelling with your partner can be one of the best experiences – in your life and in your relationship. The two trips I shared with Toby made me appreciate him more than ever, and made me more secure in our future together. Word of advice, just don’t fly Jetstar.

Why are we using social media to validate our relationships?

Why are we using social media to validate our relationships?

It’s no secret that social media has become the platform for showing off – here’s my new watch, here’s my new bag, here’s $5000 of Moet. Yes Rich Kids of Instagram I’m looking at you.

Really RKOI?
Really RKOI?

With pictures like these, my mandatory morning Instagram scroll (admit it, you know what I mean) often leaves me with feelings of inadequacy before I’ve even had breakfast.

But most recently another type of post has been getting on my nerves – the relationship post. Not sure what I mean? I’ll give you a taster of some of sweet incredibly annoying captions I see scrolling through my news feed on a daily basis.

He’s perfect #bestboyfriend you are the man of my dreams #romance#romantic#ilovehim

This little lady never stops amazing me. When I thought you couldn’t get any better you always manage to up the level. Everytime I look at you, it is like falling in love all over again #mygirl

Best boyfriend ever! I’m inlove JJJ Thank you! #6monthanniversary

Gag.

So now I not only have to feel bad about not having a private jet or mounds of cash, I also start to feel bad about my own relationship; why isn’t my relationship like that? I don’t remember getting anything for my 6-month anniversary… Why doesn’t my boyfriend post pictures announcing his ever-lasting love for me? And then I actually find myself asking my boyfriend some of those questions OUT LOUD. Oh, the shame. Don’t worry, I hate myself just as much as you do right now.

I can still hate on couples if I'm in a couple, right?
I can still hate on couples if I’m in a couple, right?

Yes I know, we aren’t supposed to compare. As my boyfriend likes to remind me – “Every relationship is different”. But c’mon, it’s 2015 and I’m a Gen Y – I compare everything.

Social media has allowed us to create better, filter-enhanced versions of ourselves. Feeling ugly? Valencia will fix that for you. Rumours your boyfriend is cheating? Just upload a photo of you two looking happier than ever #forever. Or my favourite, the fake-that-I-am-deliriously-happy post break up upload where smiles are mandatory and a glass of wine optional #freshstart.

So are we enhancing what we have, or just completely faking it?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret – I faked it. I faked it, hard. My boyfriend and I have been together for three years – two of them good, one of them bad. Our first year together was hard. He probably wasn’t ready for a relationship, and which made me even more desperate to make it work. If I couldn’t do that, I needed to portray it was working, via Instagram, of course.

So candid. So happy. So constructed.
So candid. So happy. So constructed.

I know I’m not alone here. I’ve had friends in the past who’ve been in the midst of a break up but still posting photos with their soon-to-be-ex captioned #soulmate. And they are just the few psycho ladies I’m close enough with to know better.

Through our phones (no one uses computers anymore, right?) we are given this little peep into other people’s relationships, but we forget this peep is altered, it’s refined and it’s how they want the be perceived by the online world. I mean whose really going to publicise their boyfriend cancelling their plans to drink beers with da boiz. Been there.

A friend once said to me, “The best sign of a healthy relationship is no sign of it on Facebook.” Since we are in the digital era of 2015 I realise that no sign of a relationship on Facebook means it probably doesn’t exist. But I believe a healthy relationship is one that is not pimped out on social media. And I’m speaking from experience.

In the early days of my relationship I felt it necessary to flood people’s feeds with pictures of the two of us, or posts to his Facebook wall with the standard marking-my-territory love heart <3. Now when I see someone doing the same thing, I can recognize they are probably very insecure about their relationship.

I’m not saying I don’t upload photos of Toby and I now, but it’s not to prove anything to anyone – it’s most likely because I was having a good hair day.

Example one of my good hair day.
Example one of my good hair day.

I think once you are truly happy in your relationship, you stop caring what other people think. If you know your relationship is good, there is no need to persuade others with photos/videos/Snapchats. I’ve realised there are moments that should be sacred, and there are moments where your phone doesn’t belong and can actually ruin the moment of spontaneity or romance. Not everything needs to be shared to your entire social media network – people with over 100 engagement photos; I’m looking at you.

Surprisingly you can actually go to a romantic dinner without checking in on Facebook and/or taking 35 photos perfectly timed ‘kissing photos’.

So the next time you’re scrolling and start wondering – Wtf why didn’t my boyfriend give me a Michael Kors watch on our one month anniversary? Remember there is more than meets the eye. And there is more than what makes your FB feed.

Feelings of inadequacy BE GONE.

Don’t you wish it were that easy?