Many people enjoy getting outside to get a break from their day, take some time to enjoy the fresh air or just for a change of scenery. Nowadays it’s common that we take our mobile devices with us wherever we go, to stay connected to our friends, family and colleagues 24/7 or maybe to feel safer in case of emergencies.
In order to truly take a break it’s beneficial to switch off from social media completely and truly connect to nature. When you take the time to relax and enjoy your surroundings the benefits can be great.
Challenge the addiction
The challenge with disconnecting from social media is that many people need it for their work or they are regularly updating their social media to grow their fan base.
It’s becoming increasingly recognised that people are finding social media platforms addictive and significantly harder to switch off from checking their accounts, replying to comments or messages which leads to withdrawal symptoms not too dissimilar to other addictions.
The benefits of leaving social media alone and appreciating the outdoors increase the longer you can abstain for picking up your phone and logging on to your favourite app instead of appreciating the sights, sounds and smells that you’re experiencing.
It is very tempting to take a photo and share with your followers but if you can avoid doing so for extended periods you will notice a huge difference and may consider taking breaks more often.
The most popular social media platforms are designed to keep you continuously engaged to encourage you to keep using them. This is because they benefit from increased usage which they can use to attract customers that will pay to advertise. These advertisers benefit from more people using social media regularly because it increases the chance of brand exposure to more people.
The negative effects
Staying away from popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram is a topic that is mentioned more frequently in the news and media due to the cause for concern surrounding the attitude and behaviour that humans are adopting towards their usage, in particular the negative social effects that are being documented.
These negative effects are only becoming more apparent recently because of the pace at which the population has chosen to use social media so frequently, the way that mobile devices are being used and the accelerated speed at which technology is improving, compared to the speed at which scientists can research and understand the short term and long term effects.
Reduce your time online
The research surrounding the positive effects of being outdoors has been around a lot longer which helps us understand in comparison to being inside more or being out of the office and home with a mobile device so easily accessible.
An ever growing trend that we are noticing is the uptake of retreats where phone signal and wifi is restricted to certain hours of the day, or for the duration of the stay. These retreats are aimed at reducing the amount of time that can be spent online and therefore reduces the amount of focus spent using social media. In the past this practice would have been practiced mainly in relation to email by avoiding reading communications from colleagues at work while on vacation or at weekends. Using social media can often be a 7 day a week habit, which compared to email presents a whole new challenge.
Taking a break from communication can be challenging for most people, applying the addictiveness of social media can make it even more difficult especially if the demand to keep up-to-date with what’s going on comes from work as a freelancer, business owner or employee. More and more businesses are turning to social media as a marketing tool to raise more awareness about their products and services with the objective of generating more customers. This constant drive to increase sales means the pressure to post and engage regularly can increase equally or in some cases increase drastically.
Being outdoors in nature doesn’t demand the same pressures on people which is likely to be the reason it can decrease the feelings of stress and other side effects that are being observed. Finding the time to be alone or spend time with friends connecting face to face is more natural for humans so it’s recognised as being important for maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Recognition of this importance is particularly crucial during the early stages of human development, especially as the age at which the use of technology is becoming younger. At a young age, brain development at this stage is unique and the effects of using devices such as mobiles and watching videos on laptops are different to later in life. Parents who are aware of the potential effects are more cautious about how much time their young ones are spending online instead of playing outside.
One of the many goals that users of social media have is to increase the amount of followers and fans that they have on their account. With this goal in mind, the requirement for staying online presents versus the ever growing health benefits of disconnecting often has seen the rise of automated tools available that can simulate the behaviour and actions that a human would normally spend time doing. Most social media platforms provide developers with access to an interface allowing them to create third party applications for specific purposes.
Applications which mimic human behaviour or automate the actions that someone would normally make when using a social media app are becoming more sophisticated so they are being used increasingly to replace the need to be so active. A common term for these applications is bots. The Income Artist website has researched the use of bots, particularly instagram bots which can be run constantly even when you’re not using your device. As the adoption of these automated solutions increases it will be interesting to note the effect this will have on the amount of quality time available to spend outdoors.
Founder of Stay Wild Festival – Wilderness Living Skills Practitioner and Digital Marketing Consultant.