Books, Lifestyle, New Fiction, Smartphone, Social media, Teen fiction, World Book Day

Reluctantly Back on the Grid

The Social Media Allure

I’ve been away from social media for months now.

What started out as an experiment to practice what I preach in my debut novel The Invite surprisingly evolved into a new way of life.

The initial aim was to progressively reduce my usage over a 3 month period until I reached cold turkey.

Although the process had a few ups and downs it was ultimately a great success. Little did I believe it would strip away all desire to reignite a return to shares, likes and posts though.

What is odd about the decision, is that I’m not really sure why I became so switched off.

Ironically the only logical reasoning I can think of, is that the idea of remerging with an infinite online community seemed quite frankly, effort!

With the decision has come great freedom and a sense of tranquillity. No longer being governed by a reflexive impulse to keep checking my phone for updates or mindlessly scrolling for a 5 second dopamine hit, offered a state of happiness and released shackles I never truly believed I was chained to.

However, a time has now arrived when exciting new updates regarding my novel writing exploits are on the cusp of being unleashed, but my new lifestyle has created a dirty big brick wall to my launch plans.

Like it or not I must face the fact that there is a very slim opportunity to spread the word about my latest offering to the world, without actually engaging with the world. Near everyone lives online now and therefore I must return to their home in order to complete my quest.

And in all honestly, I’m quite daunted by the prospect.

I can say with 100% conviction that my return to social-ality will be more of flying visit rather than a permanent arrangement.

It is my hope that at the end of the journey others may also choose to join me and unplug, even if it is just for a while.

All social media talk aside, your probably thinking hang on a minute, what is the new novel exploit…?

Keep your eyes peeled for my next blog to find out! In the meantime enjoy world book day guys.

Lifestyle, Mental Health, New Fiction, Social media, Technology

Social Media Cleanse Diary – 2 Weeks to Go

Incredibly the end is almost in clear sight!

A whole 2 months of my life has been dedicated to the purging of social media and it is with sheer delight to announce that I remain on track to succeed in remaining t-total.

I’d love to predict that I’ll coast towards a triumphant victory in 2 weeks’ time and although everything has unfolded better than I could have envisaged so far, I dare not become complacent.

Once again, I am proud to declare that I am yet to succumb to social media since the 30 day mark; not even for one cheeky check on Facebook.

Although I have found this treacherous challenge easier and more rewarding than I had initially anticipated, I would be lying if I said there has not been instances where I’ve almost slipped up.

As per my previous observations, it is always in those moments of boredom where the urge to kill time kicks in that a strong and almost automatic impulse to check social media invades the thoughts.

Thankfully this hasn’t been too bad to overcome since I deleted all of the social media apps from my phone. This allowed time for rational thought to muscle in.

The other challenge I have found on occasions in previous weeks is a slight annoyance at being unable to utilise social media for some of the usages that are actually of benefit, such as finding out data to assist with my book promotion or to use the Marketplace function on Facebook to help me buy and sell during the process of our house move.

I guess it could be argued that I am now regarding social media for practicalities rather than simply to mindlessly kill time (in most cases). Perhaps this reflects a slight shift in my Psyche?

I guess the killer question at this stage is how do I feel?

Now I have given this thought a lot of consideration over recent days as I would love to say I feel great. Unfortunately, I can’t say this is the case. I think I am perhaps at an awkward stage in my life, a crossroads if you will. But what I can conclude is that I still feel better than I did before I started the challenge. And when I think about how I might have felt if I continued to bash social media during this phase in my life, I can only predict that I would have felt much worse.

I think to truly reap the rewards of not using social media is to give it up for good, or at least for a much longer period of time. And I can honestly say that I would be open to such an undertaking.

Anyway, as my world continues to remain hectic, I think this will be the last social media diary I log before I reach the end.

I’m confident I will manage to stay of the social until then, but make no mistake I will be keeping my wits about me to ensure I remain on the path of riotousness.

Wish me luck and see you at the finish line. 

For those who are yet to read up about my current challenge, get up to speed @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/16414670/posts/510

Don’t forget, if social media addiction is something that interests you, why not check out my young adult novel The Invite and join troubled teen Lindsey Hookwink on her night of virtual horrors that well and truly expose her unhealthy smartphone habits. 

Books, Lifestyle, Social media

Social Media Cleanse Diary – Day 30

Screen Time | How Screen Time Works

I feel supernatural forces are in motion this year; hell bent on playing with the passage of time.

Only a moment ago I posted an update from day 5 of my social media challenge. Now here I am looking to catch up on my progress log, only to realise I have made it through an entire whirlwind month already. It has passed in the blink of an eye!

To be fair it has been a manic month as I have embarked on the exciting and also stressful journey of moving house.

Thankfully I have just about had time to keep on track with my tally of daily social media hits.

Given the lengthy delay in dishing out the dirt on my social habits, there was potential for this post to transpire as an essay style confession regarding my array of struggles encountered, accompanied with a huge list of social media useage logs.

I’m thrilled to use the word ‘potential’ as the past month has been anything but a disaster.

I can honestly say that my social media exploits have been practically non-existent since my last update. I still have to pinch myself to believe the words I write right now.

Here is an overview of how things have panned out over the past few weeks.

During week two of the challenge, I used Facebook twice for 2 minutes on each occasion, Snapchat once for 1 minute and Instagram once for 1 minute.

Now I could reflect on this with critical eyes, considering how well I had done in week one. The main plus here however is that social media usage has still reduced by about 30%.

Week 3 is where the magic really started to ignite. I only engaged with any form of social media a grand total of 3 times all week. This encompassed 2 minutes spend on Snapchat and 1 minute on Facebook.

I was in full stride during this period of time, fully absorbed into house viewings and mortgage discussions. This meant that even the idea of accessing social media, didn’t cross my thoughts for the most part.

Regrettably as the craziness from previous week simmered down ever so slightly I did regress a little bit in terms of my progress during week 4. I used Snapchat on 3 occasions for about a minute each time and Facebook twice, one of which to wish my grandad a happy birthday. I must admit the birthday thing did get me questioning this odd habit we have developed. Rather than actually saying happy birthday in person why do we feel obliged to send a Facebook message. This is something that may never have occurred to me in previous times.

Anyway this slight relapse just confirmed to me how insidious social media can be and how easy it is to fall back in the habit of having a cheeky check on it every now and then; particularly during times of boredom. This realisation prompted me to delete every social media App downloaded on my phone, with the exception of WhatsApp. And for the past 4 days I haven’t looked back.

In terms of how I’ve been feeling mentally during this whole time, it would be too good to be true to say that I’ve felt a million dollars every day of the week, but yes on the whole I am feeling pretty good. I am starting to no longer feel those strong feeling of envy that were becoming common place before and (if anything) I am actually finding peace in knowing other people are experiencing big moments in their life.

I don’t want to jinx it but I genuinely don’t think that the second half of my challenge will prove to be an almighty battle. I refuse to declare this with any certainty as I am all too aware how powerful the allure of technology can be during times of weakness.

As long as I keep working on my head space and sticking to my guns I’m hopeful this challenge will end in successful and enlightenment.

Regardless of the outcome I’m sure there will be some more twists and turns as I approach the end of this journey and so I’ll try and be on the ball a bit more with the updates from here on in.

For those who are yet to read up about my current challenge, get up to speed @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/16414670/posts/510

Don’t forget, if social media addiction is something that interests you, why not check out my young adult novel The Invite and join troubled teen Lindsey Hookwink on her night of virtual horrors that well and truly expose her unhealthy smartphone habits.

Lifestyle, Mental Health, Social media, Teen fiction

Social Media Cleanse Diary – Day 3

After yesterday’s myriad of mind games, I feel like today has been much more straight forward in terms of my emotional response to this social media cleanse.

The great news is that I have managed to build once again on yesterday’s success and in fact only used social media once all day!

In my wildest predictions I would not have expected myself to curb the habit to such an extent at this very early stage.

Oh I do hope the whole 2 months will continue in this vain.

The one time I did use social media, it was a quick 1 minute check on Facebook. I was immediately greeted once more with the social media post that has annoyed me all week and so I went straight to refresh the newsfeed wheel of fortune which decided I would like to read about a burned out car instead. How lovely.

It is worth mentioning at this stage that my partner is a bit sceptical about my methodology for this challenge.

She believes I should go cold turkey from the offset and she also doesn’t believe that I should keep Direct Message platforms such as WhatsApp available for usage.

She even believes that using my blog to post updates is in fact using social media and therefore contradicting what I am trying to achieve.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and my other half doesn’t hold back with her opinions I can tell you that much for sure.

Perhaps her observations are valid to some extent and maybe this is why I have found things rather easy so far. It is difficult to say.

In spite of this I will continue on with the same plan, but I am now contemplating whether to up the anti for the final few weeks of the challenge and simply ghost any and all online avenues until I reach the end.

Maybe I could go as far as chucking my phone out and communicating via barn owl. Who knows?

All I know is I’m feeling good at the moment and hopefully this will be a feeling that grows as the challenge goes on. Only time will tell.

For those who are yet to read up about my current challenge, get up to speed @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/16414670/posts/510

Don’t forget, if social media addiction is something that interests you, why not check out my young adult novel The Invite and join troubled teen Lindsey Hookwink on her night of virtual horrors that well and truly expose her unhealthy smartphone habits. 

Lifestyle, Social media, Teen fiction

Social Media Cleanse Diary – Day 2

Success is Relative. I would like to think that all humans… | by Mitch  Massman | Live Your Life On Purpose | Medium

So, I breezed through my first day of cutting out social media yesterday and this injected me with confidence as I prepared for day 2.

All things considered my second day was another great success. Looking back at my log, I can see that I did in fact access social media one time less than yesterday which I’m ecstatic about.

I should note however that not everything was as rosy as it sounds. I experienced a strange complex whereby I found myself instinctively reaching for my phone in search of social media but then stopping myself before deciding to click on the App. Sounds like a good thing right? Maybe it is, but the problem here I feel is that this prevention tactic is actually preventing me from getting a clear picture of my social media habits. It has also meant that the few times I actually did access social media, it was accompanied with feelings of guilt and shame for some bizarre reason. 

Perhaps this is just helping me to achieve my full social media blackout more quickly? I do hope so.

Worse still the very few times I did access social media, I was displayed with the same update from an individual that filled me with anger and sadness. I felt as though Facebook knew that the post hit a nerve and decided to keep throwing it in my direction.

I feel all of this emotion is making me more determined to get rid of the damn platforms as quickly as I can, which is surely a good thing.

Another interesting conclusion I found from today is that I felt less likely to use social media as I knew it would involve making a log of it, which I simply could not be bothered to do.

Maybe I have just been overthinking things with the challenge today and hopefully tomorrow will be less tubulous and even more of a success.

For those who are yet to read up about my current challenge, get up to speed @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/16414670/posts/510

Don’t forget, if social media addiction is something that interests you, why not check out my young adult novel The Invite and join troubled teen Lindsey Hookwink on her night of virtual horrors that well and truly expose her unhealthy smartphone habits. 

Post University

Mind over motivation

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I wonder how many people find everyday existence a continual battle. And I don’t mean in I want to end it all kind of way. I’m just curious as to whether its a common trait amongst graduates in their mid 20’s find themselves in a scrap for fulfilment.

Not to lower the tone with pessimistic viewpoints but I just wanted to ponder this thought as a means to go on.

I’m sure anyone reading this will be thinking, this guy needs help. I can assure you that depression is not an issue, but I appreciate the concern anyway. No the biggest ailment I find that plagues me, is frustration.

Interestingly, my beef isn’t necessarily against the many difficulties of life. Anyone who is familiar with some of my previous posts will know I like to have a bit of a rant about many of life’s problems. The dreary state of the economy and joys of job hunting have been the main victims subjected to the sharp end of my pen. Metaphorically speaking of course.

Believe it or not I actually feel at peace with the problems in society. And I think its because society never seems to change. I don’t have the spirit or inspiration for change like of a figure head such as Nelson Mandela had, for example, therefore I figure there’s not much I can change. Obviously I can make my voice heard through a vote, but lets not get tangled into political intricacies.

As a result I decided to focus on myself. And therein lies the problem.

Its ironic that aspects of my job require man management because I genuinely believe that looking after the best interests of No1 is by far the hardest task. And I’m not necessarily talking about the basic life principles. After all its our obligation to forge an existence for ourselves. No its the stuff after that. The next stage. Being able to better ourselves. This I think is the hardest task. And its one, no doubt, that we will ever stop pursuing.

So at this stage in my life, 3 years on from being thrust into life after uni, the fight against myself is in full flow. The main problem I have is that I’m hungry to succeed. I’m all to egger to stamp my mark on the world. And the biggest raging problem I face is the task of turning creativity into cash!

Ideas and inspiration emanate from me like a explosion. And it all comes in a short injection of energy. The problem is, all to often, trying to harness and nurture these brainwaves into tangible tracks is like trying to keep hold of liquid gold that is quickly seeping through the cracks. A near impossible task.

So after all to often giving in to my popped balloon syndrome, this is the time where I begin to fight the fire. The first step in starting this process was to establish the problem. And it was quite easy to label. Motivation. My dirty demon holding me back in life is motivation. Letting laziness sugar coat my productivity has resulted in restriction. And returning back to my opening statement, I wonder if anyone else feeling the fight is in fact being defeated by this little diva that is motivation.

If motivation doesn’t want to play, nor do you. If motivation doesn’t want a new job, a new car or a nice house, the unfortunate reality is that your not likely to get one either.

The lucky thing that I have discovered however, is that that you can persuade motivation to cooperate. But it isn’t easy. It’s very much a working progress for me and I just hope that I can get motivation to crack. And when that day comes I think it might just be that little bit easier to push through those doors of success.

So I have a plan. And this plan is focussed on setting targets, breaking these down into manageable goals and then offering an award for completion. Simple I know but so far it seems to be working. The only hurdle that does seem to be cause for concern at this stage however, is overcoming problems. Even the most organised, enthusiastic and innovative worker in the world can come undone by a problem. So this is my next challenge. Motivation doesn’t like problems, so I now need to find a way to make motivation strong enough to work through them.

Its going to be an interesting battle and one I certainly look forward to sharing with the world some time soon.

Post University, Uncategorized

The uncertainty of success

It feels like an eternity since I last posted on here! In retrospect it has only been a few months, however when I come to think about it, the last time I actually posted was actually last year; so happy belated New Year everyone.  When thinking back to New Year, the occasion involved a glorious trip away and this very much sparked sensationalized feelings of renewed optimism and hope for the future.

When considering the circumstances of the New Year time period, it is wise to appreciate that I was still very much basking in the glory of my newspaper placement days. The reality of these elated feelings however was that I was being unrealistic. It was approaching a month without my ego boosting front page appearances and not only had I already disappeared from the lime light, but my confidence remained shattered by a dream job rejection which would have tied in perfectly with my placement exit.

That New Year’s Eve as I gazed out at the Manchester City views and watched the sky explode with colour, a fresh wave of determination came over me. If I’m being honest though I think I was trying thrust the determination upon myself. My true feeling at that time was basically that of lost hope in finding a job now that I had graduated.

The three months that have followed those New Year celebrations have been a whirlwind blur. The predicted reality of full-time work in my unwanted job was being fulfilled. In sync with the mass student mentality that the system had failed me, many would assume that I had slumped into despair. In some respects I had fallen into this frame of mind, however bizarrely I never really gave it that much of a thought.  In fact I never really had time to dwell too much on this negativity. For me it was a case of getting my head down and doing what I had to do to make ends meet, and to be honest I began to feel as though life wasn’t too bad.

During these busy months however, I made sure that I didn’t give up on the job search. I knew it would be tough and I knew it could potentially take years to find something. I knew that if too much time elapsed I would have to do something else to make me stand out from the crowd, but what did I have to lose?

It has only been in the last few weeks in which things began to happen. The scenario in which this change came about seemed very peculiar to me. It began just as I started to fully adapt to my routine. Somehow things just felt different and I just knew that my life needed to change.

My first signal for change was a sudden rush of transition at work. It was evident that fresh young new faces were becoming the norm in a place that in recent years, has been unaccustomed to change. Moreover increasing numbers of veteran employees began to leave.

My next signal was that the additional casual work I had been completing for some time and what was very much helping to keep me afloat, was due to end.

In my opinion however the most significant determiner was the day I found the job. In terms of my aspirations, the job hardly cut the mustard. I thought I would apply anyway.  I sat there and browsed through the jobs description and a weird buzz of excitement overwhelmed me. Certain criteria aspects where ticking huge boxes in my brain and this left me swelling up with confidence. This made the application process easy; I finished it quick and efficiently and sat there feeling happy with myself.

I quickly adapted back to my everyday routine and placed the application to the back of my mind. However within that very same hour it was quickly brought back to my attention. I routinely checked my emails and there it was. I received the first email that was about to change my life. The email was from a random guy from an employment agency and he wanted to summit my CV to the company.

I was in a state of astonishment. The circumstances around this job seemed slightly fishy to me, however that positive gut feeling burned brighter than ever and things seemed to just snow ball from there. Slightly later than anticipated I was offered an interview. I went to the interview and I’m not going to lie I nailed it and I don’t know how. It was interesting because I was given an unexpected test and that was my downfall. It went horribly wrong! In any logical mind one would think that the game was over, however I just knew it wasn’t.

My instincts were proven correct, I got offered a second interview. In suit with the last two session interview I had, the nerves where due to kick in; but they hardly did. This was unusual behaviour for me and I couldn’t explain it. I was however knocked down a peg or two in round two. I got a grilling. For over one hour and thirty minutes they kept me there and I was digging myself into a pretty deep dark hole. Eventually they let me go. Relief was my first feeling and then I started to ponder. I thought that the job really wasn’t my thing after the interview; however I still had this positive feeling. It refused to go away. In fact my logic was leading me to believe to because I didn’t really want the job; I was destined to get it.

I was right. After making me sweat for several days I got the email. I am delighted to inform you, that you have been appointed for the position. I got the job. Like any overwhelming news it didn’t sink in at first. Then an incredible feeling of happiness gripped me. It was the happiest I had felt in a long time. It was as if it has been all worthwhile. I could have gone back and kissed the grotty grounds of UCLAN and saluted the place.

However the realistic side of my brain soon and unexpectedly brought me down to earth. I realised that it was going to be hard. I realised that I would be based in a place I didn’t like. I realised that I would be working 9 to 5 like everyone else. I realised that the money wasn’t the greatest. That’s when I realised, nothing in life’s ever turns out the way you want or expect it, in fact the majority of us are faced with a constant battle. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who are blessed enough to get that dream job, then I doubt you will ever be 100% happy and even if you do, who’s to say that it really will make you happy? As these thoughts continue to whizz around in my mind I just hope to myself that I’ve made the right move.

So it seems that after a ten month slog since becoming a fresh-faced graduate, the goal that I set out to achieve has effectively been achieved and therefore as I write this blog as guidance for you who are yet to graduate I can only give you advice based on what I’ve experienced.

Tip one:  get ready for a long battle and don’t lose patience or hope.

Tip two:  if you’ve not already, get yourself some kind of work. It doesn’t matter what it is, just take anything you can! I hated my job, but if it wasn’t for it I don’t know what I would have done.

Tip three:  don’t get your hopes up.  I made this mistake; it shatters your confidence and makes it harder to push forward.

Tip four:  get yourself some kind of work experience. I did and although I found it tough with little financial incentive, it was richly rewarding and invaluable.

My final tip: is to stay committed. Even if you look on job websites for days to no avail just keep looking and one day your job will find you.

I hope this advice will come in useful; it seemed to work for me. Now all that’s left for me two do is to move on the next chapter in my life. It’s daunting, nerve-racking and I know it won’t be easy, but that’s life. I imagine that many of you regardless of whether you take my advice or not, are likely to find yourself in my position right now. The only people who won’t be, is those who do give up. I imagine whose people will be very unhappy, whilst desperately and weirdly wishing that they had the nerve-racking feeling that I have right now.