“I design, create and implement Social Media campaigns that break through the mindless scrolling” – Kate Normand
That was part of my elevator pitch for my new Digital Marketing agency, “Eager Beaver Digital”. And I wasn’t lying. I DID exactly that for my existing client, Lil Helper Cloth Diapers. I’m so very proud of the work I did for Lil Helper over almost 3 years. We ran completely unique campaigns that stood out on Facebook, Instagram and in your email inbox. Granted, it’s easy to run entertaining campaigns and create engaging content for a company as incredible as Lil Helper. More on that later. Let’s get back to that “mindless scrolling” thing.
I was doing a lot of it. Scrolling Facebook newsfeed, groups, marketplace, watching Instagram stories and scrolling my feed. Twitter. Oh, god, Twitter. I spent hours of my day just scrolling. I wish I could justify it saying it was how I was staying in touch with friends and family. I wish I could say it was about knowing what they were up to. The way these networks are set up now, however, it was barely that. I was consuming content that not only didn’t enrich my life, it didn’t even stick. If someone asked me what I learned on the Internet that day, I would be hard-pressed to fully describe a handful of useful tidbits even though I had spent hours “keeping informed”.
Sure, there are some pictures and videos from friends and family around the world. They’re wonderful. But what’s the saying? “Don’t compare someone else’s highlight reel to your bloopers”? I’m guilty of doing exactly that. From my Facebook and Instagram profile, you would never suspect anything was wrong. From the outside, I live a globe-trotting life. My kids are charismatic and adorable. If you looked closely enough, it would seem like I’m a nature junkie that doesn’t spend any time at home because there are barely any pictures inside.
Here’s the reality
Moving across the world twice in 3 years has nearly killed me and our bank account several times. While my kids are certainly charismatic and adorable, they are also very high energy and LOUD. There are barely any pictures inside my house because it’s always a disaster. And it’s not “insta-worthy” because I think I suck at interior design and we have no disposable income for trendy home decor.
Oh yeah, and then there’s the postpartum depression and anxiety that I just can’t seem to kick. I don’t really talk about that on Social Media.
I don’t post about all the times I’ve wanted to quit everything.
I don’t post about the times I’ve sobbed in front of my kids, whispering, “I’m just so tired.”
I don’t post about the fact that I’m now seeing a psychiatrist, a therapist AND a counsellor.
I don’t post about the meds I succumbed to taking which I credit to saving my life.
I’m talking about it here and now because I feel like I owe my friends, family and Lil Helper followers an explanation. Or maybe I just need to let it all out for myself, so that I can heal and move on.
At the end of May 2019, I decided to quit working to focus on my mental health and reassess my career goals. I also deactivated & blocked Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I quit Social Media.
I had just started my own Digital Marketing agency. I was trying to work 4 full days a week from a co-working space and I was about to take on more work. It felt like I was doing all the things I should be doing. That if I just kept going, if I just ignored all my apprehensions, I would be happy and fulfilled. It wasn’t happening.
There was one major problem for me, working in Social Media. Every single day, I hated it a little bit more. Every news piece that came out about Facebook’s influence on politics all over the world scared me. The sheer size of corporations like Facebook and Google, the power they yield and are relatively unchecked. Every tweet about racists and Nazis on Twitter pissed me off. Every article about how Instagram increases the risk of depression made me want to log off of everything. And don’t even get me started on the propaganda machine with the broken algorithm that has the ability to brainwash anyone, YouTube.
I’ve been participating in some kind of social networking for almost as long as I’ve been on the internet. IRC chat rooms, Bolt, Neopets, ICQ, MSN messenger, Yahoo forums, Myspace, oh lord the list goes on and on. It’s just been so long and too much. I have this terrible image in my head of being 70 years old and still scrolling. Still double tapping dog videos. Still retweeting threads about anti-racism and calling it a day. Armchair activism, I think they call it? There has to be something more. There has to be something NEXT.
All this being said, I fully acknowledge the beneficial role Social Media has played in revolutions, in bringing together long lost families and providing an online community for marginalized or disabled people. I will admit the value YouTube has as a wealth of information and DIY tutorials. There is a lot of goodness to be found on Social Media.
But the way that I was using social networks, the things I was seeing… it wasn’t healthy. I’ve felt this way for a while now. By actively ignoring these feelings, I thought maybe things would change and I could keep living my online life.
I can’t. Not right now. Not with everything else going on in my head and the world. I have to see if there’s something else out there for me. Maybe something that doesn’t involve the internet the majority of the time.
Maybe I’ll be a farmer.
I want to say THANK YOU to Mohammed and the Lil Helper family for all the amazing work we’ve accomplished together during my time working for the company. Lil Helper is truly a company that cares and gives back every step of the way. I’ve learned so much in the past few years about cloth diapering, ethical and sustainable business practices, marketing and one truly incredible thing about myself: I am capable of making people laugh and I’m not afraid to admit it. For some reason, that last one was a hard thing to accept and take pride in. Go figure.
While I’m not on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, that does not mean I’ve thrown my phone into the ocean. I have been texting and emailing friends and family in a more meaningful way. I’ve shared photos of my kids in private messages so they can still see how they’re growing. It feels healthier. It feels more real.
But there are those of you who I’m missing. Friends who might not know about what I was going through and who might not have noticed I’d deactivated my accounts. Members of the Lil Helper community or other groups I was a part of.