Our team decided to collectively embark on an ‘unplugged’ experiment: reduce our social media absorption by at least 98% and to all completely disconnect our Instagram accounts. After Time released an article outlining that Instagram was the worst social media for mental health, our team decided we would completely commit to avoiding it altogether!
As a digital and print publication, we have always believed that our online presence in the social media arena to be critical to our development and accessibility in reaching our global audience. However in all honesty, our online presence is NOT our passion. More than that, it is not where we have fostered our best connections. Before we move ahead, we would like to say that we know this is the opposite of MANY brands and corporate strategies. Understandably, social media, including Instagram has the ability to catapult businesses, ideas, people, into a stardom and popularity status unprecedented in a very short amount of time. This has not been true for us, and it has not been our strategy nor our focus. So, we wanted to see what would happen if we disconnected for an entire month… would we lose followers? would we lose credibility? would we have our sales plummet?
We only have 1300 and something followers on Instagram, approx. 5000 on Facebook and something in-between in our mailing list. Our company is a baby, only just 1 years old, and with 4 issues out in the Universe it is arguable that we could both afford AND not afford to disconnect. We are small enough most people would not notice, but we are big enough that we need to nurture the relationships that we DO have, and we need to actively push the boundaries to grow, grow grow!
Well, the month comes to an end today and the results are in…
- We LOVED being unplugged … it freed up SO much time to meet in person, to walk around our neighbourhoods and introduce ourselves to local shop keepers and chat about them stocking our mag! It allowed us to be old school in the way we met people, nurtured relationships and raised content for upcoming issues. In no way whatsoever did it derail our ability to run our magazine behind closed doors!
- We lost 12 contacts on Instagram. Since we have never, nor will we ever, purchase followers, we are proud that all 1300 and something of our followers are genuinely involved with our magazine. We aren’t chasing the hundreds of thousands, or the millions in the Instagram world, we are focusing on ONE beautiful human at a time. Because it’s not about the follower clock ticking tocking for us, it’s about meeting, getting to know, falling in respect and admiration with one amazing Unsubscriber at a time. We are after a niche group of humans who genuinely give a shit about the world, about one another, about living a truly authentic, rewarding life. We are after those who care to do rather than who simply appear to do. Who are passionate about actually living their lives, rather than pretending to. This means that all 1300 + Unsubscribers on our Instagram MATTER. All 5000 Facebook followers MATTER. All our mail list Unsubscribers MATTER. The number of followers don’t matter to us at all, because we have SO many Unsubscribers out in the world who follow our chosen path of doing life along with us rather than only following us on social media. They’re probably not even on social media, and we think that’s actually cool AF.
- Our sales increased. Imagine that? We are about to announce which stores we will be stocked in so that you can walk down to your neighbourhood store and pick up a copy of our mag rather than having to wait for it to be shipped out to you! Our community expanded, and it’s a real – in person – can feel and hug a human – community. That’s what we are really after.
As editor in chief I was so in love with this experiment that I have deactivated my Instagram account permanently. Call me old school, but I felt that sense of nostalgia for the good old days when I could walk down the street to hang with my friend and we chose to have a picnic in the park rather than snap chat our lives to each other. I have a sense of nostalgia for living a life that does not have to be documented for “hundreds” of my “friends” when I know that at 2am when shit’s hitting the fan I have a handful of friends on speed dial. That’s it. Those are my true do-or-die kind of friends, and they are the ones I am going to choose investing my time with. Our generation spends approximately nine hours a day consuming social media… that’s more time than we spend at work on average. That’s more time than we are getting to sleep on average. Something feels off for me and I find myself seriously wondering… has the pendulum swung too far?
Are we choosing to live in a virtual world OVER a real world? Are we doing things so they look cool on Snapchat rather than doing them because we want to? Are we morphing into one giant blob of sameness because we are engaging in the same imagery/brands/ideas around the clock telling us who and what we should be and do? Are we complicating our lives in a chase for the dopamine hits of likes and followers? Are we more connected or more lonely? Are we more happy or more unhappy?
Maybe I’m a pessimist, a cynical Millenial who is burnt out when it comes to technology and its ability to control our lives. Maybe I don’t want a tech neck, and maybe I’m giving into my natural status of rebelliousness… BUT what if we allowed ourselves to stop living our life through our phones for even a few extra hours every day? What if we took a sexy, fun, instagram-swoon-worthy vacation and did not share a picture, not even one? *GASP*. What if we phoned a friend and talked for one of the nine hours we typically spend on social media? What if we gave out hugs as feely as likes, and what if we didn’t feel the need to receive the third party validation of followers because we were so grounded and confident within ourselves, comfortable within our own skins, and completely whole with or without our fake online friends.
They may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m hoping that I’m not the only one … unplugging, for even a few hours everyday, could mean:
- more inner peace and less comparison to others’ lives
- more being present with our loved ones
- less distraction from the truly beautiful moments
- more connection to the real people who have our backs
- more time to do something that really energizes our soul
- less giving of a shit what anyone thinks
- more privacy and intimacy in everyday life
As a business, it could mean having more time to focus on the areas of your business development strategy that actually work for YOU not everyone else; it could mean so many amazing friendships in your own community rather than a global instagram one, and it could mean some very tangible profits you might never expect!
Before I sign off, I would like to emphasize that I know social media is an INCREDIBLE tool for SO many things… in the right circumstances, it can add a LOT to your life! BUT… too many of us are absorbing it in unhealthy doses and it is not serving us in any way. This post is just a reminder that if this is true for you, the way it was for me and our UN Mag team, it’s OKAY to hop off the hamster wheel. Your world will still keep turning, your friends will still keep calling (actually, they will call more often!), and you might just find yourself feeling more free and happy than you have in a LONG time. And to all the businesses who are thriving because of their social media communities, ROCK ON, we send you love and good vibes!
Unsubscribe is all about unsubscribing to anything in life that is not serving YOU… it could be great for every other human on the planet, but YOU are the one we care about. YOU are the one that you should care about too.
So, I’ll leave YOU with the question: is social media serving YOU?