The New York Times recently published a story called "How to Make This the Summer of Missing Out," which strongly resonated with me at the time. The article is about digital wellbeing and healthier tech habits. Writer Hayley Phelan described her experience when the wifi stopped working on a long flight, "after recovering from the initial fury-implosion, I worked more intently and productively than I had in ages."
Look at my recent google history, and it will read "signs of burnout," "exhaustion cures," and topics of the like. We live in an age of information that is delivered to us at hyper speed, which only keeps getting faster by the minute. We are told that if we can't keep up, then we can't make it. One of the things I am realizing as I get older is the importance of slowing down and getting quiet, spending more time alone, and disconnecting to reconnect. We are bombarded with spam everywhere we look, from ads to emails, to pings and calls from fake phone numbers. And this constant state of distraction is not healthy, by any means. Of course, we can't hide from all of this, but we can find ways to live a more pure and undistracted lifestyle. As I was taking some much needed rest from a busy year of shows and travel, I still felt drained and wondered why.
That's when I realized it was time for me to leave social media and my mobile device, at least for a bit. At first, I had challenged myself to a week long social media fast. I deleted all social apps from my phone so I wouldn't be tempted. No posting or scrolling, no chat apps, limited email checking only on my laptop (for work). I will admit the first day was difficult, and I realized how attached I actually was to my device. However in the first day alone, without a single distraction, I was able to spend 10 uninterrupted hours and redesign the entire Flute View website! (pretty good, huh?) I realized I was onto something here. I went for walks without my phone and actually felt present with my surroundings. I had actual conversations with friends, asking what they've been up to, since I didn't know because I couldn't see their posts. It was fantastic! So I decided to add on some extra weeks to this hiatus. When my break was done (because of the Galway Flute Festival, NFA, and Fluterscooter bag announcements), I only posted and then put my phone away after the post. I found that was my healthy balance. I can't abandon technology entirely, although the idea of living as a monk is very appealing, so I found what worked for me. I feel a lot happier and more energized, and when I don't have much to promote, I will still take breaks.
Social media is not all bad, but we need to find a healthy balance so we don't burn ourselves out further by always being distracted and feeling the need to post everything we do. As flutists, it is important to utilize social media to our advantage, but at a recent Q+A session with Lady Jeanne Galway, she mentioned to not post on Facebook unless you are super prepared, because it is a reflection of you as a flutist, and of course, it is out there for the world to see. There are many flutists and other musicians who are not on social media and are still successful. Remember that having an Instagram account is not a requirement to be an artist; it is an option.
Do you find yourself distracted and not able to concentrate throughout the day on important tasks? Throughout your practice session?
Are you fatigued and exhausted but don't know why?
Do you miss real human interaction and interaction with nature?
If so, it's time to take a break from social media!
Try just a day without any social media or device and see how it goes. Think of it like a juice cleanse, except you are cleansing your mind from distraction. If you like it, do it for even longer. Let me know if you try it and how it goes. Just don't send me a Facebook message about it.