What are these warnings that you’re spending too much time chasing after a look, an image, an influencer’s feel? Better yet, how do you combat these compulsions to be a slave to the hip lifestyle?
When I came across this idea, a list of warnings against an existence solely grappling for the influencer lifestyle, all I could think, say, feel was “oof.” This one’s a gut-punch, a harpoon through my shallow, social-media-crazed heart.
For the two years following my new author life, all I’ve heard, over and over, is, “Social media numbers matter. They’re a must. You need that 10k following for any publisher to take you seriously.” Since I wanted my testimony, my book, to leave a lasting impact on thousands, I dove headfirst into this idea that numbers define worth.
Yet, as someone who keeps my friend circle tight, small, and picky, I felt pulled in two separate directions. One leg of me was yanked toward this idea that I had to put on a front, show up for the screen in the most flawless way, day in and day out. Another leg was pulled to this idea that taking life slowly, stepping away from the phone for a more present, more engaged lifestyle was where the living was at.
The two played tug-of-war with my heart—and they still do. I know which leg should win. I know that my people matter more than my platform. Nonetheless, it’s still no easier to keep a healthy distance from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, anything that means I might gain a follower.
So, what are these warnings that you’re spending too much time chasing after a look, an image, an influencer’s feel? Better yet, how do you combat these compulsions to be a slave to the hip lifestyle?
Check out these three red flags and simple strategies for how to wave them in surrender:
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/kinga-cichewicz
1. Screen time controls your day.
In this day and age, there’s no excuse for you to remain ignorant of your screen time. In fact, iPhones provide weekly updates on your phone activity’s increase or decrease. A big warning, a big, flapping red flag, is when your screen time (particularly devoted to social media) is hitting 3, 4, even 5 hours a day.
Guys, most humans are awake an average of 16 hours a day, and when your phone is taking up 1/3 of that time, you’re leaving little room for community and relationships to squeeze in between your work demands, errand chaos, and daily musts, like cooking, eating, bathing, prepping for the next day, etc.
I challenge you to keep a daily track record of how often you’re on social media. Notice when the constant scrolling is taking up chunks of your day on the reg.
If you hit that “oof” moment, like I did, focus on creating healthy boundaries. My therapist and I made the decision that I should set a 45-minute timer on my phone, and that’s my social media screen time. When I hop on any of those platforms, I start my timer. When I hop off, I stop the timer. As soon as my 45 minutes are up, I’m through for the day.
Pray about and work through a goal that’s healthy for you. I wouldn’t recommend the cold turkey idea of going from 5 hours to none. But, find a healthy amount of social media time that can create a less digitally-consuming routine.
2. You’re disconnected from face-to-face conversations.
Worst Wife Award goes to your girl. There are so many times I’ve been caught up in these “follow loops,” where you follow to get a follow, that I’m trying to hustling numbers before “the loop closes,” missing out on conversation with my husband, Josh.
“Mmhhmm.” “Yep.” “I agree.” “Yeah, that’s true.” These itty-bitty snippets are all I can offer in between follow loop trolls who are policing the scene, getting hyper-aggressive when you don’t follow them back in five seconds.
Those people, people I DON’T KNOW, are prioritized over my husband who’s simply trying to tell me about how his flight went (#pilotwife), how the latest update on our Skoolie is coming along, and how he doesn’t mind cooking dinner that night.
A simple trick to beat this phone-obsessed trade is to be conscious about leaving your phone at home when one-on-one time is available. Obviously, don’t drive off by yourself without your phone for safety reasons, but when it’s you two going on a fancy dinner date, or even popping in the Sonic drive-thru, leave your phone at home.
This way, the distraction is 100% unavailable and you have no choice but to be completely present in your conversations.
Photo Credit: © Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio
3. Life feels empty.
Maybe you wanted those triple-digit likes and had to settle for 75, or maybe that hashtag you spent months creating isn’t trending like you thought it would. You’re showing up for the fads, for the algorithms, for the marketing strategies that are supposed to work—but this whole “look” of the lifestyle isn’t catching smoke with anyone.
On the inside, your body is processing this as rejection, even though it’s not rejection, even though this isn’t truly “you” people aren’t retweeting about. You’ve linked yourself so closely to the perception of you that you can’t handle when your perception isn’t welcomed with an online parade.
Then, you feel empty. Real empty. You take nose-diving numbers personally, a lack of comments as if no one cares about your life. You literally lose your ability to separate self from cell phone.
There’s no easy fix for recovering from this misplaced emotional battle. Instead, this requires you to get down and dirty with where you feel you’re not meeting the mark, and where God meets you in those spaces. This is a spiritual practice, a relational habit that you must create between you and God, where you recall who you thought you should’ve been, but God reminds you of who you’ve been all along.
You might need a Scripture or quote sticky-noted onto your bathroom mirror. Or a coffee date with a friend who’s infamous for encouraging you with solid, godly counsel. Step away from the phone and run toward these sources of truth and light that make life worth showing up for.
Digital, lifestyle-ish red flags are hard to lower and can feel near-impossible to give up, to wave in surrender, in 2021. However, when we pursue a lifestyle rather than the life God gave us, we aren’t living. Instead, we’re merely existing, taking up digital space that leaves no love, no impact for anyone—and meanwhile, leaves us feeling empty.
It’s time to sit down with yourself, or maybe a friend who can hold you accountable, and discover a few lifestyle flags that are being beaten by the wind, slinging your purpose to and fro. It’s time to implement some hands-on, simple tips and tricks to lower these flags, fold them up, and put them in the junk drawer. It’s time to let go of lifestyle and embrace life itself.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/nicoletaionescu
Peyton Garland is an author and coffee shop hopper who loves helping others find beauty from ashes despite OCD, burned bridges, and perfectionism. Follow her on Instagram @peytonmgarland and check out her latest book, Tired, Hungry, & Kinda Faithful, Where Exhaustion and Exile Meet God, to discover how your cup can overflow, even in dry seasons.
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