As we approached the end of school term, our home was filled with science projects. We were building volcanoes, creating watermills with Lego, and researching the benefits of skylights. With this love of projects filling our kitchen table, I decided to create my own project. I titled the project: "Facebook is destroying my soul". Oh, the drama! I planned my project over two weeks. The first week, I would be a Facebook junkie. The second week, I would be Facebook free. I wanted to know if Facebook was helping or hindering my photography. If I noticed any changes in my behavior, and my creativity. It was a very informal project and would not be accepted in any scientific journals, or even my children's science fair, but the results rocked my core.
The reach on my page sky rocketed, and by the end of the week my reach was more than triple the number of likes on my page.
The first week I was the sharing queen. I followed the recommendation of posting 4 to 5 posts a day. I shared images, pages of photographers who inspire me, I spoke honestly of events in my day, and shared links to blog posts. I shared my images to every photography page that I could find. I held a small giveaway. I celebrated reaching 3000 likes. I knew my behaviour was being noticed when a friend wondered "how you find the time". Ha! The reach on my page sky rocketed, and by the end of the week my reach was more than triple the number of likes on my page. My images were shared by a few of the photography pages, I was featured in the top picks, and I won the coveted "Feature Artist" on Fantastically Flawed. From an exposure point of view, it rocked. However, I was emotionally exhausted. I felt like I was drinking too much coffee and I was buzzing. I was constantly checking in to FB, and it was addictive. The more I checked-in, the more I felt the need to check. I was staying up too late, and my sleep was disrupted. I felt strung out, and my mind was flooded with other photographer's images. I picked up my camera to fulfill the sharing and posting requirements. My creativity ebbed, and I shot for Facebook rather than for me.
As I relaxed, my creativity returned. I noticed a real difference in the reason I picked up my camera. I wanted to create. I created for me.
During the second week, we travelled to the Blue Mountains, which is just outside of Sydney. We stayed at a pretty cottage, and spent quality family time enjoying a short winter vacation. It is a picturesque location. The house had no internet, and was the perfect place for the second part of the project. During the first couple of days, I felt a constant need for a FB hit. To stop what I was doing, and check for the latest posts and comments. Each time I felt this, I would pause and notice this sensation. I would look around for something else to do. I filled my time with long bubble baths. I read my book, and moved on to a second book. I attempted and failed a complex jigsaw puzzle with my daughters. I went to bed early, and slept peacefully. By the end of the week, I felt calm and relaxed. Of course, part of that is due to the fact we were away from our normal schedule, and I had more time. However, the Facebook buzz I had felt previously slowly subsided. I didn't feel strung out, and I did not feel the need to be online. As I relaxed, my creativity returned. I noticed a real difference in the reason I picked up my camera. I wanted to create. I created for me. I noticed the light falling on the wall. I noticed the light falling through the leaves of the trees. I saw colour, and details more clearly. I played with highlights, and then the shadows. I picked up my camera every time my heart swooned at the beauty in the ordinary. Each time I did, I felt joy. I felt gratitude. I felt a real peace with my creativity and my camera.
My social media skills are child-like. It is a new world, and like a child, I want to play longer than I should.
I didn't expect this feeling. I didn't expect to feel a real difference with my creativity. I knew that social media impacted my thoughts, and my flow. My social media skills are child-like. It is a new world, and like a child, I want to play longer than I should. However, I didn't realize it impacted the values that I hold very dear to my heart. Gratitude, joy, peace of mind, and creativity. As the Facebook addiction subsided, my true self returned. The real version of me, and my photography not only flourished, it bloomed. The images that I captured during that short week are heartfelt. They are me to the core.
I will look at these images that I created while we stayed in the cottage, and know my true self is more important than any reach or like.
Where does that leave me, and maybe you? Seriously, I don't know. I know social media is important but there needs to be a balance. I need to regularly check out. I need to monitor that buzzing feeling, and disruption to my sleep. I need to pick up a good book, and run a hot bath. I need to finish that jigsaw puzzle, or find an easier one. I need to slow down, and create for me. I need boundaries, and limits. I have removed the app from my mobile. I am limiting my Facebook time to weekdays. My weekends are Facebook free. I may need to tweak, and I may bend these new rules. If I do, I will look at these images that I created while we stayed in the cottage, and know my true self is more important than any reach or like.
Cindy Cavanagh is a Sydney Lifestyle photographer who loves to capture the ordinary moments. This is unposed, relaxed, and in the moment family photography . She is an adventurous person who takes her camera with her everywhere. She embraces colour, light, and details. She enjoys baking, and coloring-in with her daughters, and escaping with a good historical fiction novel.