What I Learnt from a Digital Declutter
At the beginning of January, I decided to do a digital declutter of my social media accounts in order to start the year feeling cleansed and refreshed. It had reached the point where scrolling through Instagram was becoming tedious and uninspired, and I realised that it had actually been a fair while since my feeds got a good clear out and tidy. I know I'm not alone when I say that I bloody love myself a declutter and upon this digital declutter of mine, not only were my social media accounts given a new lease on life, but I learnt a lot too. Decluttering brings us a unique joy in life that you just can’t get anywhere else, and for those of you looking to declutter your lives online and have kept putting it off, hopefully my musings can inspire you to finally get it done.
They're equally as important as physical declutters
The online world is fleeting and fast-paced, and attempting to keep on top of it all can negatively impact our wellbeing through feelings of overwhelm, anxiety and stress. I know my mind feels so much clearer and calmer when I've gone a good few hours without checking in and when I am scrolling through social media, I want my feeds be nothing but engaging and inspiring. Where physical clutter takes up space in our homes, digital clutter takes up space in our minds and can often be just as burdensome if we aren't taking the time to curate and simplify our accounts. Be it physical or digital, it serves us no good to occupy any of our spaces with things we don't wholeheartedly love and it's important to me that I'm mindful in all areas of my life.
It takes a lot longer than you think and isn't really any fun
I've always been someone who's quite selective with the people they follow on social media and across my accounts, I'd say my followings are reasonably small. However, going into my declutter, I never anticipated how much of a job it would be and just how long it would actually take. What I thought would be a mere afternoon task, ended up being a whole weekend ordeal!
During the whole process, I was able to declutter my Twitter and Facebook profiles within a mere few minutes, but for visual-based platforms such as Bloglovin', YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr, I put a lot more thought into who I kept and found myself going back and forth between visiting profiles and deliberating if I still liked them. Most of the time, the choice between keeping or unfollowing was easy, but there were a select few accounts I was unsure of. Like any physical declutter, however, if it's not a resounding yes, then it's a straight up no and so I unfollowed. Pinterest was no bother as my account is only just over a year old and that's where I follow the least amount of people, but Instagram by far took the longest, which I suspected it would as that's where I follow the most. Unfollowing some 200 profiles was no mean feat; there were profiles I didn't even remember following in the first place!
Another thing that took some time and effort was finding out when people had last updated and getting rid of those inactive accounts; it was tedious and tiresome, but if I was going to get the job done, then I was going to do it properly and thoroughly. I've always been a meticulous person like that.
Although I love myself a good declutter, I have to admit, my digital declutter did get a little laborious. Staring at a screen for hours on end doing the same repetitive task doesn't give you the same sort of therapeutic joy as a physical declutter, but I'm glad I committed and stuck with it as the end result has me feeling infinitely cleansed and refreshed. No matter how much a declutter takes its toll on you, it's always worth the effort and there's no feeling like it when you're finally done. I think to effectively get through a digital declutter, it's best to set aside a few hours each day doing it, but once you start, keep going! It'll only be more difficult to get back into otherwise. Like any physical declutter, it makes sense that digital declutters also need to be kept on top of and maintained frequently, but I suppose they're more easily forgotten about when the clutter isn't actually material. Knowing what I know now though, my future digital declutters will hopefully be less of an arduous process and I'll now be able to get through them in less time.
Don't feel guilty for unfollowing mutuals
One of the greatest joys blogging has brought me is being able to connect with people who have the same interests as me and it's a really great feeling when the bloggers you follow choose to follow you back. Supporting fellow bloggers is important, however, I do think there can often be this mentality under some odd guise of feminism that we should support all bloggers. To me, that's asking too much; people change, you change, social media itself changes and we can't all please everyone, so we shouldn't expect everyone to please us.
I'm pretty cut-throat when it comes to decluttering - I'm really not a "maybe pile" kind of person - but I did hesitate a little when it came to unfollowing mutuals (side note: I don't have an app or anything that tells me who follows me back because that's stupid and I don't care, I'm just going by who engages with my posts). I guess I was initially worried about coming across as mean and that they'd unfollow me back and my numbers would go down, but then I remembered that while numbers are nice, they're also the least important thing to me here. Plus, if people want to unfollow me regardless, they reserve the right to that choice. There’s also the whole muting thing you can do if you want to avoid the awkwardness, but I can’t imagine myself in a situation where I’d need to do that and honestly, if I dislike someone enough to want to mute them, I’d rather just do a straight unfollow.
A few years back, I actually had a mutual unfollow me. I think the most disappointing thing about it was that I had actually interacted with this person on occasion - if it had between someone I never engaged with or talked to, I definitely wouldn't have cared at all - but nevertheless, while initially disheartening, I didn't take it personally and chose to keep following them because I genuinely liked (and still do) their content. For whatever reason, they no longer felt the same way, but like what I can only assume was their most likely rationale behind unfollowing me, I only want to follow people whose content I wholeheartedly love. I would never expect - or even want - people to follow me back just because they felt obliged to and if people choose to unfollow, that's totally fine as I want my followers to genuinely like me. I've heard stories of bloggers becoming really passive aggressive and butt hurt about being unfollowed, but those are the people who are on social media for the wrong reasons and that's probably even an underlying reason why you'd stop liking someone's content in the first place. As harsh as it may sound, you shouldn't have to put your feelings aside for the sake of someone else's because you really don't owe anyone anything, and at the end of the day, social media isn't something worthy of being taken to heart.
Finding my photography style has given me confidence in curating my feeds and my place in the blogging world
The blogosphere has been through its fair share of photographic trends over the years (remember when everyone photographed products on their IKEA floral bedsheets?) and it’s been quite fascinating to see how my own photography style has developed and evolved in my time here. For a good few years, I was drawn to photography that was very cool toned and muted, but now, I find myself gravitating towards slightly warmer tones and sometimes colour that's a little more saturated. When it came to decluttering Instagram in particular, it was quite startling to realise just how many styles I no longer felt I resonated with and profiles that I used to wish mine looked like, I no longer felt inspiring. Of course, this isn't to say I don't appreciate other aesthetics or that I expect my feeds on any platform to fit my style exactly (that would be boring), but that we all change and sometimes, so will the type of people we want to follow.
Last year when I moved back home and into a new bedroom, I felt inspired to spend some time honing in on my photography style (this probably makes sense to absolutely no one but me, but I try to make my blog photos to look like my taste in music; I want them to look dreamy, airy and shimmery!).
While doing so, I learnt what type of photography I had the most fun shooting (I realised I'm not super into stylised flatlays and I prefer photography that looks a little more effortless and still life-like) and even began playing around with filters, which I had never done with my blog photography before. I'm not sure how noticeable the change has been to my readers, but personally, it's made a significant difference in helping find the style that feels the most "me" and nowadays, I rarely ever get into funks where I compare myself to other bloggers. I know how to appreciate someone's blog or Instagram without undermining my own and it's a truly wonderful feeling.
One of my favourite things about the online world is the way in which it's helped me find my personal style, be it photography, clothing, makeup, music, or interiors. As you get older and progressively learn more about yourself, you become more certain and self-assured in the things that represent you and make you up as a person, and I know that's had a tremendous impact in who I am as a blogger and the bloggers I choose to follow. I feel like I can curate my social media feeds accordingly now and since my declutter, they've become reinvigorated and far more inspiring. Who knows, maybe one day my style will evolve again, but at the moment, I'm feeling confident in where it is and in turn, the type of content I seek inspiration from and resonate with.
My favourite bloggers from years ago are still my favourite bloggers today
I've been reading blogs for almost ten years now and later this month, my own blog will turn seven, so it's fair to say that I've definitely been around these parts for a long time. I've seen bloggers come and go, made plenty of amazing newer blog discoveries and then there are those select few who have been around just as long as I have and whose blogging journeys I've been following since the very beginning. Although the blogosphere has changed exponentially over the years, my favourite bloggers have always remained true to themselves and are just as influential to me today as they were from day one.
It's a true testament to your love and drive when you've been doing something for so long, and the heart and soul the people I follow put into their blogs never ceases to inspire me. They've evolved and changed so much, yet have somehow also stayed the same way that drew me to their blogs in the first place. Regardless of what they've made of their blogs - be it a full-time job or a fun hobby - it's been amazing to see how far my favourite bloggers have come and watch these lovely ladies grow and blossom online. While I did do a sizeable amount of decluttering, the people who I've been following the longest are still with me and I can't imagine my feeds without their wonderful content popping up. They have helped shaped me into the blogger I am today, endlessly motivate me and are rare gems I'll always adore.
Don't leave it so long until the next one
I'm not the kind of person to let physical clutter and unwanted things pile up in my life - once I decide I no longer want something, it's immediately removed so that I can pass it on - but I had admittedly let my digital clutter fall by the wayside. I vaguely remember decluttering my Bloglovin' and YouTube subscriptions last year, but I know for a fact that it had been almost two years since the rest of my social media platforms got a tidy, which is really quite shameful as someone who prides themselves on their neatness and organisational skills! I mean, it's no wonder my declutter took so long. Like physical clutter, digital clutter can also accumulate without us even realising and as mentioned earlier, it's equally as important to manage and keep on top of regularly. Since doing my declutter, I'll now be checking over my accounts every six months or so and I've learnt that it's better to get them done at the same time, as opposed to decluttering one platform in two weeks and then another in three months. It'll make things easier to keep track of and you'll get it over and done with all at once. Decluttering can be a tedious task, but not leaving it so long ensures it's less taxing and that our online lives are always something inspiring, positive and worthy of our time.
What are some of the things you've learnt from doing a digital declutter?