This year, we’ve decided to run The Good Space without using social media. So I wanted to write this post, explaining how we reached this decision and what it means for us. I hope this can be useful for you if you’ve been questioning your own relationship with social media, or just present an alternative point of view and way of doing things. To clarify, the social media we’ve mostly been using to this point is Instagram and to a lesser degree Facebook. In making this decision, and writing this post we are not passing judgement on anyone who continues to use social media but simply expressing our current point of view.
Whilst Kate and I both agree on stepping away from social media for The Good Space, the journey to getting here has largely been my own. This is why I (Ellen) am the one writing this post, and why it feels necessary to share my personal perspective.
I’ve tended to be a late adopter of social media. Facebook reached my friendship circle in around 2006/2007, content with Myspace I wasn’t an early enthusiast and remember actively scorning the idea of “Facey-b”. The realisation that my abilities to organise and attend social events would be hampered by not being a Facebook user is what, eventually, persuaded me to join. Instagram I came to in late 2016, as I was making large changes in my life and exploring new ways of living and working.
I joined the #slowliving movement, finding inspiration in other people’s dreamy images and writing about life lived differently. It was on Instagram I discovered many women doing business in a way that worked for them, and living what seemed to be beautiful lives supported by these businesses. I’ve found teachers, mentors, coaches, friends and community through this photo-sharing platform. Just as Facebook enabled me to connect with friends spread across the country, and the globe, and find like-minded groups to join. Throughout history humans have found ways to organise in coming together – social media at its best can be one of these ways.
Over the past few years however, I have – more and more – been getting social media at its worst. Like a relationship when the initial haze of passion and romance has faded, breakfast in bed replaced with dirty socks on the floor. More than that though, I’ve found the social media I’ve been using to have become like a lover turned abuser – intent on putting me down and emotionally manipulating me.
Whilst there can be personal responsibility to be taken in the use of something such as social media, and I have examined and attempted to put boundaries on this use, it is telling that those who invented much of this technology won’t allow their children to use it or even do so themselves.
In early 2021 I knew that the most authentic version of myself does not use social media. Since establishing my business (Being Change) in 2017, it’d seemed that social media was a requirement for having a successful business. In around 2019, however, I discovered Alexandra Franzen – a rare unicorn of the Internet running an online business without social media. In Spring of 2021 I signed up to Alex’s Marketing Without Social Media Course* (something I’d highly recommend for anyone interested in exploring running a business with no, limited, or an altered relationship to social media). This paved out the mindful, intention driven and distraction free path to a calmer and more spacious working life (and just life in general).
*The above link to the Marketing Without Social Media Course at You Can Get It Done is an affiliate link. This means that if you sign up to the course via that link, you save $50 and I also get $50. Win win!
I imagined all the things I might do with my extra 1hr 42 minutes per day (the average amount of time spent on social media per day per UK user); the walks, the actual connections with friends, the deep work done, the time to write, to read, to be. I still couldn’t cut the cord, though.
Everyone has social media. If you want a successful online business, it is absolutely essential. Or so we are told. Despite knowing this wasn’t true, the fear of just quitting all together kept me tethered for all of last year.
During that time though, I noticed the self-doubt and comparison, the frantic, anxious, ungrounded energy after going on the app. Slowly, I realised that my ability to think deeply and focus on my work had been severely compromised. Over the Christmas period I took time off social media. It was bliss and, on the instances I did log in I noticed almost instantly those anxious feelings returning.
Weighing up the positives and negatives, it became clear that for me the cons far outweighed the pros. The move of Facebook to Meta, and the subsequent barrage of TV advertisement for them I’ve seen since have further solidified my feelings. I do not want to run a business that furthers Mark Zuckerberg’s empire, an empire that seems more and more like an episode of Black Mirror each day.
The Good Space is about doing things differently. Creating good space within ourselves, within society. It is about going against the way we’re told we should do things, and living in alignment with what feels authentic and true to us as human beings. For us right now this looks like stepping back from social media, and connecting with our community through this blog, our podcast Create Shift and our regular newsletter. We’d also love to start offering in person gatherings when this feels possible.
I know that social media is a privilege, a saviour and a powerful force for good for many. I am, in fact, not quitting it completely. I will continue to use a few Facebook groups I am personally in that I find very supportive. Who knows, maybe The Good Space will return to social media in the future but for now we are stepping away and it feels very, very good. In the 2 weeks of being back to work with no social media I have felt more connected to my work, and more joyful about it than I have in years. The moment something stops feeling like a tool, and starts feeling like a prison made of shards of glass is the moment to stop.
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