Why You Should Set Your Phone Down

Keith California Desert

And other thoughts on social media

A few years ago I found myself out in the valley of Kings Canyon National Park. I was staying with a friend for a night and one night turned into two and eventually two nights turned into five. And the entire time I was there I didn’t have cell service. For five days. To the point of my father, calling the National Park, looking for me. And those five days away from my phone, and away from the disconnect that happens when everyone is on their phones, was amazing. We worked on puzzles. We played monopoly. I made margaritas in a blender without a base on it. It was a JAM. And you know what I have to show of it.

Some really rad fucking memories.
And that is it.

I have had so many thoughts on social media recently. I don’t know if it is moving to a smaller town and finding myself relaxing more into this lifestyle, or just being so over trying to find validation online from strangers.

There seems to be this disconnect that has happened between personal social media, and branding social media (branding yourself as a person behind your business), especially small business owners like myself. There are all these little tricks you can do to ‘enhance’ peoples perception of you, of your work, of your life. And they’ve been taught to me, they’ve been taught to my friends, and if you’ve been trying to become an influencer or find work through your social media, it’s probably been taught to you too.

You tag your friends, you tag your clients, you show behind the scenes, sneak peaks, fun videos of you and your friends, you’re just hanging out! You’re being normal people!
And that is totally fine, in fact, I do it too.

But here’s my problem. I constantly feel like I am exploiting my friends when sharing stories of them to my social media. Even worse, I feel like I am exploiting clients too.

And I get it. I totally understand branding as an integral and important part of small businesses, especially in this age of social media. Like many photographers, it is so important, that I even offer it as a service. But when I look at other small businesses doing it, sharing all of these ‘real life moments’ of them hanging out with friends and other businesses, it feels so exclusive to me.

And that is not what I am here for. I am not here to ever make anyone feel like they cannot reach out and have a conversation with me. I’m not here to ever make anyone feel like I am too good for them, or that I only want to be friends with someone so I can post about it on my Instagram story.

I am here to be relatable. To share my life, and hopefully inspire you to just get outside. I’m here to help you realize that everything you like and admire about every person you follow on Instagram, already exists inside of you. I am here to help you, to inspire you to seek that out of y o u r s e l f.

If you want to grab a coffee and chat, let’s do it. We can talk about the weather, we can talk about camping, we can talk about books and moving and how hard it is to meet people when you move. I just do not want to keep living my life where my friendships only seem valid if I share them online.

And thats not to say that you will never see my friends on my own social media. They are an integral part of my life, still of my work, and being over 1000 miles away from my actual family, my friends have become that as well.

And this also isn’t to discredit people who use this integral part of branding in social media. People, like me, work from their phones. I’m constantly replying to emails, following up on leads, I’m on my computer literally all day. But I have allowed myself to be present in other parts of my life, when I feel it is important. I’m still going to take my camera everywhere. I am still going to post videos to instagram. That shit ain’t gonna change.

I just want to implore you to have a night out with your friends where you can tell yourself it is okay. To put your phone away, and to feel okay with not sharing those moments with the rest of the world. I cannot tell you how freeing it is to go to a friends house for hours on end and to not even think about my phone. To slowly see my progression of hours spent on social media - recede into mere minutes a day. To slowly see myself become more present in my actual life.

And I hope you do too.