Here are some facts about me: I’m 27 – so that makes me a millennial, those who are supposed to devour social content. I’m a digital producer at Kworq. And I had a toxic relationship with the digital world I navigate – so I detoxed.
For two weeks I stayed off Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Snapchat. I logged out of all my accounts and deleted the apps from my phone. For the most part I didn’t read any digital news – I couldn’t be trusted. I accidentally read a lot of headlines because I get dozens of email newsletters a week, and I read advertising and marketing news because that’s my job.
For better or worse, over the past few months I’ve been consumed by the world around me. On the one hand, I’ve been fully aware of all political and social justices and injustices that happen every day that I was sort of numb to before. On the other hand, I’ve been an incredibly stressed and anxious human being. If you’re on social media it’s unlikely you’ll be immune to political mumblings. Whether you’re happy about the state of our country or feel like this is the end-all apocalypse, you can’t escape news reports and other’s opinions about those news reports. It’s also unlikely that these things won’t affect you – back in February NPR reported that I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed lately.
Aside from my online, political obsession – if I want to be a good producer I need to know what’s going on in my industry. My industry is online so I was nose deep in my phone and/or computer at all times. It was a lot. In an attempt to take a step back and relax I allowed my sister to convince me to do the two week digital detox. I was pretty hesitant at first – Twitter had become my most favorite social media channel of all time. I could say whatever I want. Given the fact that I have 87 followers it was akin to screaming my face off in the middle of Fifth Avenue and no one flinching an eye. But I was obsessed. And I needed a break.
Staying off social media felt good. Sometimes I would randomly pick up my phone, unlock it, then not know what to do because I couldn’t check Twitter. It’s amazing how many times I instinctively went to go check an app that wasn’t there.
As someone who produces content and works in a business that exists heavily online – I had a lot of time to think about what it means to actually be connected, where I felt the digital world was failing us, and how I can weave that notion into my work.
When I took a step back I came to some very real conclusions about how these social channels affect me. This was it:
- If you’re not stuck in your phone while at a bar or on the subway, you can have surprisingly wonderful conversations with strangers.
- Books are cool.
- Social media was overwhelming me.
More importantly, it was making me feel like this:
Instagram makes me feel bad about my life.
Twitter makes me feel bad about the world.
Facebook makes me feel bad about humans in general.
Even Teen Vogue understands me – they published an article last year about how social media can make us miserable.
For me – the misery was two-fold. I was comparing my (pretty great) life to the lives of others and I was feeling hopeless about the world around me. Browsing the seemingly perfect lives of others and screaming about politics on Twitter was no longer going to suffice.
The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. In a lot of ways social media has brought us together – it’s raised awareness for causes that may not have had voices and allowed us to video chat with grandparents overseas.
And social media – particularly social campaigns and ad-driven online content is not going away. But if I’m not alone in feeling lousy after spending 30 minutes online – shouldn’t we work to figure out a solution that makes us feel good?
At Kworq, we talk about two things constantly: empathy and story. As the need for social media engagement and content continues to climb we see a great deal of empty content. Content that looks pretty but contains nothing inside. Even though we’re constantly creating campaigns for the digital world, we don’t forget that we need to connect with consumers (people) on an emotional level and we need to give them something to believe in. Or maybe we need to give them an opportunity to literally step outside with physical experiences and activations. Now, more than ever there is a need to feel more compassionate and human. It’s up to us – the advertisers, writers, directors, creatives, and producers – to make that feel genuine.
Written by: Robin Baudreau, Producer