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Do you spend too much time online?

Do you spend too much time online?These days, our lives pretty much play out online.

We’re in constant contact with the outside world.

We run our work life online, we organise our personal lives online…in fact the only time that we tend to log off is when we’re asleep.

It’s really quite remarkable that there are 5 billion mobile phone users and 2.4 billion internet users globally (especially when you consider that 80% of the world’s population lives on less than $10 a day).

Social media has taken over from porn as the number one reason for using the internet, and every day on facebook alone users share 2.5 billion pieces of content.

There is 100 hours of video uploaded to youtube every minute and on average people spend more than 3 hours every day on social media (and that doesn’t include other internet usage, emails or time on the phone).

…and then there’s mobile phones.

How much time do you spend online?

On average, how many times a day do you think a mobile phone user checks their device? 10? 20? 50? 75?

Nope. Double it.

The average mobile phone user checks their device 150 times every single day.

It’s simple, these days many of us live our lives online.

…and there are a lot of benefits to it. Four of my closest friends live in different countries. One of them lives over 5 thousand miles away from me.

I get to keep in touch with people I otherwise probably wouldn’t. I get to feel like I’m a part of their lives and they are a part of mine. I know what’s going on in their lives and get to share in what’s going on for them…good, bad and otherwise.

I get to connect with more people than I ever could one-to-one. The fact that you’re reading this article means that you and I are connected online in some way, shape or form. Without the medium of the internet, it’s unlikely I’d get to share this with you.

So the world of online can be wonderful.

Is spending a lot of time online costing you?

It can also be a big problem.

People are spending so much time online, that they aren’t connecting with people offline as much anymore. …and in some cases people are even forgetting HOW to connect offline, because they’re so out of practice.

The online world can end up leeching a lot of our lives away. How many women sit down and think to themselves “I know, I’ll spend over 3 hours today on social media?” Very few, I’ll bet. But they sit down for a ‘quick catch up’ and before they know it an hour has gone by and they didn’t even notice it.

Of those same women, if I asked them how much time a day they spent nourishing or nurturing themselves, the answer is likely to be ‘not much’…and the number one reason? “I don’t have the time”. Spending just 15 minutes less on social media and looking after themselves instead could make a drastic difference to the quality of their lives.

So the question is, how often do you unplug?

The reason I ask this is until very recently, if you’d asked me the same question I would have said “never”.

I used to spend a disproportionate amount of time online. Now, I know my business is based online, so of course I’m going to spend a large amount of time online…but it wasn’t just for my business.

If I’m being honest, it was any spare moment. If I was bored, or wanted a distraction I’d reach for my phone or my laptop. My phone was always on, and when it beeped, pinged or vibrated I’d instantly check it.

…and then I realised how being in constant contact with the world was EXHAUSTING! Because it was contact, not connection. I wasn’t making the time I was spending online quality time connecting with the people who mattered most to me, I was just passing time. There were no boundaries, and it was unhealthy.

The online world is a good servant…not a good master.

I wanted to unplug.

Do you need to take yourself from online to offline…just for a bit?

So, I made a commitment to myself. I was going away on my own for a week of R&R. Time for me, to connect with myself, to enjoy myself, to just be me. …and I made the commitment for that week I would be completely and totally offline.

No internet, no phone, no social media.

No facebook posts, no uploading of photos, no texts, no comments or likes.

I set all my business correspondence up to go out automatically…and at midnight on Saturday 3rd of August, everything went off.

It was bliss.

I spent the whole week connecting with me.

I got to experience the REAL world, 24 hours a day, for a full 7 days. No beeping, pinging or vibrating. No television. No internet. No-one but the people I saw face to face. I found myself appreciating and enjoying my food more (it’s amazing how when you concentrate on eating it rather than ‘lol-ing’ on a friends status update, how much more your senses get to experience!) I felt more grounded, more connected.

More me.

I spent the week reading, doing yoga, meditating. Going with the flow, following my intuition…even drawing – sometime I’d not done in about 15 years!

It was fantastic.

Did I break it at any point?

Honestly? Yes.

But the exceptions felt pretty necessary at the time. I used my phone when I had a tyre blowout on my way to my retreat, to call my Mum and let her know I was OK after a very dramatic and traumatic nut allergy reaction saw me sped off to hospital…and I called to let someone know I was staying an extra day so they wouldn’t worry when I didn’t show up.

Did I use the internet? No.

Did I use any social media? No.

Did I check my emails? No.

It was fantastic…and when I got back I didn’t want to go back online. I’d had such a wonderful time, and I felt so much more connected to myself, I didn’t want to lose it.

So when I got back, did I spend days and days going through everything I’d missed?

Not at all! I filtered quickly through the email and found everything important…and on social media, I asked people to let me know if there was anything important – anything else really didn’t matter. It is more important to me spending time in the real world!

But then I realised…as with everything, it’s all about balance.

So now, my phone’s airplane mode gets utilized on a regular basis…as does silent mode.

I have time in the morning and in the evening which is ‘my time’…and I choose not to connect with the world online until it’s right for me to do so.

When I’m out with someone, they have my attention, and my phone is on silent.

If I choose to make a status update, I don’t have to monitor and respond to every like and comment in real time. I pop on for a while…and then go and live life in the real world…and then later when I choose to do so I can pop back on and get up to date.

My email program is often closed and Facebook chat is permanently off….I check my messages when I want to…not because something has popped up and distracted me from what I’m doing.

So work out what boundaries you’d like to set for your time online.

When do you want to be connected…and when do you want to disconnect?

Could you make some ‘you time’ in your day, and choose to take that time out of your facebook updates?

Figure out what works for YOU…and then choose to make it happen.

Because sometimes you need to disconnect from the world online, to truly connect with yourself…and others.  If you missed it, I highly recommend you watch this short video that makes the point beautifully…

…and if you do spend some time offline, I promise you everyone who matters will still all be there when you get back.

Stay Fabulous!

Claire x

Do you wear an online mask…?

I’ve spoken a lot about the challenges with masculine and feminine masks, but there is another type of mask that is also causing us a lot of problems at the moment…and it could be affecting your femininity.

These days we spend a huge amount of time interacting and connecting online.  Globally we spend a collective 35 Billion hours online a month, which equates to nearly 4 million years!  Of this time, 22% of it is spent on Social Media and 19% on emails…so around 41% of our time online is spent involved in some kind of communication.

What is scary is that 39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than they do face to face…and I’m sure that the stats for other areas of the world are similar.

In addition, a recent survey showed that these days, many people with a mobile phone prefer texting over a phone call…leading to even more text-based communication.

The challenge with this is that a lot of people wear what I call an “Online mask”.

Masks are there to conceal the identity of the wearer. Wearing any mask involves portraying characteristics that not consistent with who you are on the inside, and hiding an element of the ‘real you’.

When people interact online it is so easy to use the internet as a mask to hide behind.  People say and do things online that they would never dream about doing in the real world, face-to-face.

It’s easier to be bold when you can’t see the immediate reaction from the person you are interacting with.

I’ve personally had a lot of experiences where people I have interacted with online have been very different when I’ve interacted with them offline.

Several years ago I did a stint of online dating, which meant getting to know someone first through a website or email before meeting them face-to-face.  There were so many times that a guy seemed one way online and yet in person was completely different.

There were the usual cases of a man claiming to be 6’2” and in reality showing up as 5”8, or photos that looked like they were taken 10 years ago, but the biggest surprise for me was the amount of drastically changing personalities.  I can’t tell you the amount of times that a guy came across as confident on an email or on a website….but was painfully shy or awkward face to face. Sometimes a guy would appear flirty and forward over text message…but didn’t show up that way when there in person.  One guy who I met in Guilford had seemed very confident over email, but was completely incapable of looking me in the eye over coffee at the local Starbucks!

I know that some people use Social Media to create an ‘online persona’ for their business which is the complete opposite of their offline self as a ‘marketing exercise’.  There are individuals who are privately facing financial ruin…but publicly are declaring themselves a success…or worse claiming to be able to help others to improve their own financial situations.

I’ve built up relationships with people via Facebook where I felt that I’ve got to know the person quite well…and yet when I’ve met the person in real life they’ve been completely different.  I’ve met people at several events over the course of the last year who have completely and totally surprised me by being so different in person to the way that they come across online.

In each of these situations the people in question are wearing an online mask.

These online masks manifest in a number of different ways:

  • Some people say things that are more controversial than they would do in a face-to-face situation.
  • Some people are more extroverted than they would be in real life.
  • Some people are more harsh and brutal with their communication than they would be in person.
  • Some people use the ‘online world’ to play a role that they aspire to be, but aren’t comfortable with when they don’t have the computer to hide behind.
  • Some people deliberately represent themselves in a way that is not consistent with who they are.
  • Some people are more forward or flirtatious.
  • Some people are more honest.
  • Some people are less careful with their words.
  • Some people are less aware of the consequences of what they say and do.

Now, some of these ways seem quite benign.

So what if someone is a little more flirtatious when they’re online or if someone is a little more honest on Facebook?

Well, it might not seem like a big deal, but in reality it can make all the difference in the world.

You see, if you represent yourself one way at one time and in another way at another you don’t come across as authentic. If people aren’t sure that they know you…they won’t be sure that they can trust you.  If they aren’t sure that they can trust you…they won’t be interested in building a relationship with you.

And relationships are the key to everything in life.

Business, life, love…they are all based on relationships.

As a feminine woman, authenticity is the key.  Being who you truly are inside rather than hiding behind any kind of mask is the key to embodying your Femininity.

This applies online, offline, between the lines…all the time.

Step out from behind your online mask.

Be real.

Be yourself.

If you interact with me online, see me in a video, or meet me in person you’re going to get exactly the same person every single time.  In fact friends have told me that when reading my blog or posts online they can almost hear my voice as they’re reading it, as I write exactly the same way that I would speak if I were having a conversation with you face-to-face.

So no matter where or when you interact with me…you’ll get the full, 100% “Claire” experience every single time.

So I invite you to commit yourself to just one rule – If you would say it or do it this way in real life, do it online.  If not, don’t.

It’s that simple.

When you are completely and totally yourself, people can connect to the real you…and that’s when the magic happens.

Stay Fabulous (and real)!

Claire x