The Importance Of Self-Care Online

Yesterday I received the tweet that every YouTuber will receive at least once when they start uploading regularly:

The desire for quick, consumable content continues and, as the lovely Estela recognised, I hadn’t uploaded for the past month. I kind of assume that people aren’t that committed to my weekly videos and that the pressure for regular content exists more so to take advantage of the algorithm, however a gap in the subscription box must be more obvious than I initially gave it credit for. People do notice and they do care, and I had vanished for a month without checking in, other than the occasional tweet or instagram. Whilst some people upload erratically, I’m ~roughly~ committed to a weekly schedule – so I’d imagine a couple of people were wondering, like Estela, why I’d stopped.

In short, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.

I often forget that my online anonymity has decreased and that I am not only a person, but also a brand. Anyone with a Twitter profile is in the same boat – we have employers looking at our pages to check that we toe the line of what’s socially acceptable, we have parents who can check up on us, and landlords who might want to make sure we aren’t going to be “too social” in our new flat. In addition to those pressures, my online presence is growing very fast. Posting on social media is a big part of my personal life, but has also become a big part of my job. It becomes hard to draw the boundaries; the lines blur when I’m deciding whether to share my feelings, photos and discussions within my usual posts and on my regular social media platforms. The conversation in replies on Twitter that was once relatively private is now viewed by thousands of people, and that’s easy to forget when only one or two might contribute. My platform has grown very slowly online up until the past year, and so I’m having to learn how to navigate a much more public online space. YouTube, as my biggest platform, is perhaps the most difficult element of that. YouTube also started as a hobby. I tend to be very honest and introspective when I talk about my life, which can sometimes mean that I have trouble gauging when I share too much, and what “too much” even is.

Too much sharing seems to have led to another new dimension to my online experience, which is hate. For a while I thought that the, for lack of a better term, catty comments were an attempt at being constructive, but as someone who is very open to criticism I couldn’t understand why taking them on board was leading to even more criticism emerging. But it’s not constructive criticism, and apologies don’t help because they always wanted their words to hurt you. It is a pool of lava that continues to bubble and nothing I can do will calm the cycle. It picks on your insecurities; it’s everything friends at school said about you behind your back but now it’s being said directly to your face. I’ve had a couple of waves of it over the past couple of months, and one particular one took a massive knock to my confidence. It’s seeped from the forums I can avoid to the comments of my videos which I have to read, and that has been really hard to deal with.

So in mid-August, after letting all of this get to me for way too long, I decided that taking some time off was necessary self care. With all of the shit that we encounter from being on social media, I think that looking after ourselves isn’t prioritised nearly as highly as it should be. I took some time for myself online and stepped away from posting tweets, photos and videos every day. I organised for a friend to start moderating my comments section. I created a private Instagram where I can share more personal photos without having to worry about branding, or sharing images of my friends and family and locations close to their homes. It gave me a month to process, and a month of relief from the pressures I’d been feeling from social media.

For some people, self care online involves having an unfollowing session and heavily curating who they follow. Some avoid online news and stick to print media. Some people delete their Facebook app to stop them from watching re-hashed viral videos and having to be confronted with Friend Number Four’s engagement photos and regular wedding planning updates. (I’ve got a couple of years before the wedding and baby photos explode onto my timeline and I’m making the most of it.) And even after all of those steps, some people need to switch off entirely and take a phoneless retreat in the Cotswolds. Each to their own – everyone has different battles with social media and we all have to work out the best way to detox. Whatever you choose to do, I am certain that it will benefit you in the short term.

After the past month, I am now a full advocate of applying self care practises to my social media use. Taking time away from posting has given me time to reflect, and I feel refreshed and with a greater sense of self-confidence. I’ve kickstarted the process of accepting that the commentary on who people think I am isn’t personal, but a reflection of the person writing it. I have always valued commentary on what I make much more than commentary on who I am, and that balance has been reaffirmed. I started this blog, which in hindsight was a clear subconscious response to the fear of making videos that had developed in me. With that subsiding, I now have two platforms that excite me where I can share my thoughts. I’ve gained so much from having a break from the rat race of regular content production and commentary on my life from outsiders, and now I’m ready to start posting again and have a renewed sense of purpose. If you’re considering a social media detox, I couldn’t recommend it enough.

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19 Comments

  1. September 11, 2017 / 4:46 pm

    Self care as an online creator is so crucial and important! It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and then even to feel guilty about it! I’m glad you’re giving yourself a detox once in a while and I’m sure other followers like myself can understand and appreciate that.

  2. Saar
    September 11, 2017 / 5:24 pm

    I love this post so much! You put it all into words, I couldn’t have said it better. The line between what is personal and what is for everyone to see and read stays an interesting topic of discussion…

    I’m looking forward to your future posts and videos! 🙂

  3. Gee
    September 11, 2017 / 5:37 pm

    Hi Lucy,

    I’ve only recently started watching your videos but I’ve been hooked ever since. There’s something about your reflective thoughts and calm energy that just soothes me and makes me feel like everything is going to be alright (I think this may sound a little creepy but I hope it’s doesn’t :D).

    I think it’s great that you are taking a break and writing a blog post about it because I feel like it’s not fully accepted to take care of oneself online yet the way we take care of ourselves in real life – despite the internet being a huge part of most people’s life!

    Anyway, thank for the great content and see you when you’re ready!

  4. Catherine
    September 11, 2017 / 6:07 pm

    Heya Lucy

    I couldn’t possibly relate more to your post. I am a person with many interests and opinions and so a while ago I decided to make Instagram pages for nearly everything I love. It is fun, of course. But sometimes it becomes too much. If I don’t post for two days people will ask me where I am and when I’ll be back. I arranged a co-Admin recently to help me out with that issue and now I have way more time for myself and far less pressure on my shoulders. Breaks from social media are necessary, especially now that everybody is online 24/7.

    Love from Switzerland xx

  5. September 11, 2017 / 6:41 pm

    I am sitting in a train. Driving to a New City. A city I know very well. And I am searching for my phone that I have pocketed away on Friday. Going offline for the weekend with friends and new humans.

    It’s he third time I did something like that. A weekend full of nature. Conversations. And amazing one on one talks. Without any distractions.

    Our phones are great – sometimes – but sometimes we just need to disconnect and you said it very well. For us creators it’s often that much harder to go away from it all. To take a break when there are so many people looking.

    Good you did it. Took some time to recharge and regroup. Continue on that path. And there will be many more who want to hear the storylines you have to share.

    Huggs from a Train 🚂 Rolling through Germany,
    Chris

  6. John Latten
    September 11, 2017 / 6:57 pm

    I wouldn’t take criticism too personally. A lot of the time it’s from a person that’s had a bad day or it’s from someone that’s struggling and they are looking too vent their frustration onto someone else.

    I’ve done this once or twice myself and felt bad about it the next day.

  7. Freya
    September 11, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    Hi Lucy,

    You’re so right about the Facebook thing! I deleted the app last week after months (years?) of being notified of things I didn’t care about, followed by inevitable boredom-scrolling. I really thought I would get a bit of an itch about not having it and would eventually re-download it – but I’ve barely thought about it and can’t believe how much better I feel.

    Glad you’ve had this time off and hope it’s helped (and looking forward to new videos when you’re ready!)
    xx

  8. Martin
    September 11, 2017 / 11:01 pm

    Lucy, you are producing a meaningful content that comes free to your viewers. We (the viewers) can very easily develop a feeling that the creator of the content owes something to us (to produce the video every week etc.).

    People just forget to be thankful and they take the things that are for free as granted. You do not owe your viewers anything, you are an artist/blogger and we are here to enjoy your videos/posts, if people want some generic content everyday they can watch TV. I mean .. do not let the expectations of your viewers stress you!

    Good luck 🙂

  9. Hayly Westlake
    September 12, 2017 / 12:22 pm

    Thankyou Lucy, I’ve been struggling recently with being able to consolidate the way I was feeling about self care. It’s easy to forget that self care is a constant thing, not just something you do once and suddenly you’re great and sorted forever.
    Reading this has helped and been a much needed reminder if that. I just hope that your time away has truly helped you to feel better moving forward.

  10. Maja
    September 12, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Lucy, you are a very introspective person, which speaks to me – you are a constant source of inspiration for me. Personally, I think that doing things the way you feel is right, especially time-wise – is not only right but necessary to remind people that creativity does not come forced. Creative jobs like yours once started out as something independend and I can’t for the life of me understand while nowadays people try to force it into corporate structures like this. Keep it up, your doing wonderfully =)

  11. Aleksandra
    September 12, 2017 / 7:24 pm

    I love this post sooooo much! I came across one of your videos a couple of months ago and fell in love with all of them. You are just so cool! Keep taking care of yourself, after all, at the end of the day, it is the only thing you can count on. Through taking care of yourself and emphasizing how important it is, you are taking care of all of us. You are an inspiration, sending you lots of love!

  12. Adaeze
    September 12, 2017 / 9:15 pm

    i feel you, but the thing i don’t get about this is u have a choice. like, u could choose to totally separate your work social media and personal shit, or you could get rid of the personal shit online and make that a more one-on-one thing between u and your friends. i’m not trippin, i’m just tryna point out that this is not something u have to participate in. if it gets u down (and girl, studies linking anxiety and other mental illnesses to social media are for real), get rid of it. i don’t like the mentality of “oh i hate it but i need it” that so many people have. yeah ok, so there’s a shit ton of people who are experts in getting u addicted to their apps, and that’s hard to escape. but u should not forget that u don’t have to become a slave to this stuff. i’ve been totally free of this stuff for a year now- no fb, instagram etc.. and it’s only been positive for me. u don’t think about people who don’t matter, u don’t spend hours comparing yourself to that kid from 10th grade, stalking your ex, stalking the guy/girl u just started seeing, etc etc etc
    for real i recommend it.

  13. September 12, 2017 / 9:41 pm

    Taking a break was a good move, and I think that writing will give you so many more options as to what kind of content you make. Also, well done on getting a friend to moderate your comments. Just because you post videos doesn’t mean you’ve got to read every single response. I recently deleted Facebook from my phone but still trawl through it daily, would definitely be up for reading a thinkpiece on why we should all just give it up already!!

  14. Hecate
    September 12, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    Hi Lucy,
    I want to share with you something that confuses me with some youtubers these days and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. It’s not hate, I’m just genuinely interested with this, and I think that it totally fits with what I just read on this post.
    I remember you saying in one of your old videos that you wouldn’t want to have only youtube in your life, because how would you find inspiration if you weren’t having other experiences in your life, or something like that (English isn’t my first language sorry). I thought that was a very wise thing. I just feel that sometimes youtubers are distancing themselves from us because they live in a strange bubble of their own and their content suffers from it (I’m not saying that your content isn’t good, I freaking love your videos !!!! believe me, but you seem to struggle to find some balance and I understand it’s really freaking hard). Youtubers who only do youtube seems to be missing something to ground them into the real world. Do you see what I mean ? I know that when I’m left alone with my thoughts during those two freakishly long months of summer, I end up feeling a bit crazy and I can’t wait for uni to start again. I’m studying to become a composer/music arranger/sound engineer, and I feel absolutely empty and not creative at all during holidays. My work and struggles at uni really helps me feeling creative, and I’m sure you can relate to that. I’m not saying that being a youtuber is like being on holidays, but the lack of structure is the same, do you follow my thoughts ? Maybe it would help you to find another little job doing something you love. Not for the money, just to have a more tangible connexion with the “real” work world. For example a friend of mine takes pictures professionally during concerts or music festival. I’m scared for youtubers, because I feel like they’re more and more used like living walking ads by companies. If you did an other little job next to youtube, it would maybe make it easier to find your identity, as your value wouldn’t only be about which company wants to sponsor you. Aaaaaarrrg I feel like that last sentence wasn’t written properly I’m so sorry, it’s so hard to express your thoughts using another language.
    These are all personal thought, don’t take them too seriously, I don’t know you personally, I only know about you what I see online and I know you’re much more than that. I’m 21 and I relate to you a lot, that’s why I’m taking the time to write this. I would love to hear you talk about this one day.
    Love ya
    xx

  15. September 12, 2017 / 11:02 pm

    Hi Lucy, you’re a really great writer and have such an approachable, eloquent voice. (I’d like to think I could guess this was written by you, just based on the voice and personality portrayed in your blogs.)

    I appreciate this post, as I’m sure many people will. It’s validating to hear someone else of my age range enjoying ‘successes’ and also being confident in her time to herself.

    I really admire you and wish you all the best this autumn!

  16. EleanorSJ
    September 13, 2017 / 6:09 am

    Hi Lucy,

    I know everyone is talking about the actual meaning of this post, and how good it was for you to take a break, and how you owe nothing to your viewers, and I totally agree on all of those. But can I just say, that this blog setup is really nice! Also your writing skills are really good. I hope you keep this blog, because I can see it as a really nice way to connect with viewers/followers, and it seems like an even calmer way to voice your opinions, tell us your stories, etc. Can’t wait for some more posts! (Although absolutely no pressure🌷)

    Thanks for writing, and making videos for us all, very thankful indeed;)
    -El

  17. Clara
    September 13, 2017 / 1:05 pm

    Hello, dear Lucy

    I hope you feel better after this break. After as many breaks as you’ll need 🙂 Your health is always more important.
    I’m really happy that you started a blog! It’s been years since I haven’t read any blogs at all, I feel like everyone just went to YouTube and Instagram. I miss actually reading long posts about someone that I care about.
    Thank you for giving me back this feeling 🙂

    Clara

  18. letho
    September 14, 2017 / 5:14 am

    so glad i found this

  19. Write.Mirage
    September 17, 2017 / 12:03 am

    I’m glad you took some time to yourself and this really inspired me to think about social media influences on my own life. Xxx

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