• David

Why I won't stop banging on about taking breaks from Instagram

It’s switch off weekend

Rather than write a long post about it I decided to make a video. Then I realised that I had we had a puppy (and there was stress in the air), so... well... it's a blog that no-one will read instead.

When I started taking breaks I decided I’d always post about it, not because I think anyone could give a solitary shit, but because I honestly think everyone could benefit from it.

Every time I hit go on the post, after 20 minutes, I say to Hayley I'm never doing again because of these 2 responses

The silent but watching from afar thinking 'oooooh look at him, he thinks he’s so fucking cool, NO ONE CARES PAL, if you’re gonna have a break just piss off and do it already.

But this is the worst, because it’s so well meaning - the dreaded 'pity response'

  • Hang in there mate

  • You do what’s right for you

  • Don’t let it get you down

  • It’s just instagram dude

  • I feel the same sometimes, can be such hard work…

These are lovely, but pretty ironic, as you are the people I’m talking to! I'm not having a breakdown, I'm just being proactive with my mental health, and trust me, it's way better than waiting until it breaks!

There are 2 types of people on social media:

People that know that, in some way, they are negatively effected by it... and liars, basically!

News flash - instagram is addictive, double news flash THAT AINT AN ACCIDENT KIDS.

I started taking breaks about 2 years ago after reading

Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff

Quickly followed by

10 Arguments for to Deleting your Social Medial Right Now - Jaron Lanier

btw - I'm not going to stop going on about those books 'till some fucker reads them.

TB really H they can make for pretty bleak reading at times, but not as much as you’d think! More than anything they talk you through how and why these platforms were built, and the effects that certain features were developed to have on you -

FUN FACT - ‘infinite scroll’ was only 2 lines of code and is reported responsible for 10, 000,000 additional ‘eye ball hours’ every day (that's how we are commodified and measured btw - 'eyeball hours' sounds pretty dark, eh?)

Anyway my point is, these things are addictive, they were built that way. They are being created by the teams that built Las vegas and, as well as using all the old tricks like DDR (delayed dopamine rewards), they can chuck in newer methods like scarcity bating (time limited content), social proof (200 of your friends read this, you don’t wanna miss out) and hyper-personalisation based on the, frankly scary, amount of data that they have on you.

basically, we’re all fucked.

Maybe it’s not ruining your life like gear or booze might, but being addicted to ANYTHING ain't healthy - even celery juice - I'm looking at you - you medical medium lunatic fans

Most of us know that shit though, The Social Dilemma is pretty much ubiquitous at this point, but still people don’t care, why is that?

I think like anything, something needs to be seen to be believed! You know that saying 'if you put a frog in boiling water he’ll jump out, but it you put it in cold water and boil it slowly it won’t notice'? Yeah, well, we’ve been boiled slowly, real slowly, so we’re happy to just fucking cook I guess?

Sorry for that non-vegan reference - forgive me Earthing Ed for I have sinned.

The thing in these books that actually tipped me over the edge into doing something is a part that people don’t often talk about. THE INTERNET, AND ESPECIALLY SOCIAL MEDIA, HAS BEEN BUILT TO POLARISE. Middle ground doesn't interest people, uninterested people don't stick around, and people the don't stick around can't be sold to - pretty simple.

Have you ever wondered how these platforms, that are 'free', are the most valuable organisations in the world? You don’t pay a subscription because you ARE the subscription. Here’s what happens behind the scenes - algorithms, far scarier than the content display one we discussed last week, are constantly manipulating us into smaller and smaller more tightly packaged boxes, boxes that sit as far left or right as we can go on the spectrum so that we can be sold to the highest bidder!

I’m not David Leslie - ok bloke - 26/10

I'm David Leslie, grew up in a small town, used to buy lots of expensive coats, hasn’t purchased for a while, no longer as a regular income, is married, has a penchant for useless electronics and could probably be tuned 'back on' with the right angle of marketing from x x x brand - scary stuff.

tbh - I don’t really care about that shit, we've been being sold to for decades, but what a do care about is existing in a world where everything is sensationalised to the point that normal discourse between people that don't agree on something simply can't happen. You’ll notice that it’s pretty quiet around our corner of instagram. That's because the vegan echo chamber is full of VERY like minded people. It only blows up when someone crosses enemy lines (a story from the carnivore world blows up and goes viral in our community) or when someone inside our chamber breaks ranks (James Aspey’s Holocaust shit the other week for example) the rest of the time it’s calm, fam.

Our old page was more of a mashup and had about 3 times the followers. They were from all over the place (we were an omnivore page, then a vegan page, then a lifestyle page - the whole lot basically). At the time, things were super-toxic, Brexit was popping off there was some real anti-vegan sentiment around and, after putting down the last book, I realised that literally everything he said resonated - so we both turned everything off, for a MONTH! It didn't feel healthy to live in either an echo-chamber or that sensationalist space full of arguments - so, off we went, and it was fucking glorious.

Much like the books told me, you shouldn't let the internet colour your view of society. Go outside! There aren’t people screaming at each other about Brexit, there aren’t people being needlessly awful to each other, talking shit about peoples families or using horrific hate language because someone is choosing a compassionate lifestyle.

People were being nice, they were smiling, being grath The real world was pretty fucking cool, we just hadn't stopped to look at it for a long time.

Basically that month did more for my mental health than anything in the last 5 years, so I’ve kept it up. Sometimes I feel like I need it, sometimes I don’t, but I try to stick to it because I know it’s the right thing to do. I've spent the last couple of years trying to work out what the right ratio is and I reckon, for me, it’s a long weekend off every other week. A circuit breaker (to co-opt some very topical covid vernacular). A big reset to basically appreciate everything we have.

So there you go - next time you see me post about it and think, either oh 'what a cock', or you 'poor fragile sausage' maybe try being a bit honest with yourself around whether you would benefit from a break, even if you're not at 'breaking point'

Ok, thanks for coming to my TED Talk

Have a nice weekend


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