5 Tips For A Successful Social Media Detox (For People Who Work On Social Media)

Taking time off social media can be complicated when you need it to sustain your work. When you’re self-employed, a freelancer or an entrepreneur, taking a break from social media can be essential to your mental health. Social media, especially checking obsessively has been linked to high anxiety as well as depression. Interpreting these studies has one meaning for the casual user but a completely different meaning for those of us who may feel pressured to spend 6 hours or more per day engaging with social media. Even with small sample sizes, these studies confirm something we feel intuitively. Social media can be draining when you discuss emotionally sensitive subjects that bear very real weight in your life offline.

Taking lengthy breaks from social media is important not just to our well-being but to cultivate the realization that your self-worth, self-esteem, and value isn’t tied to social media. Here are five of my favorite ways to prepare for a social media detox and enforce a social media detox without sacrificing productivity, my long-term goals and my short-term anxiety regarding engagement on my social media platforms.

(1) Engagement is not conversion. If your social media account doesn’t yield sales conversions for your self-employment or small business, taking time off may not impact your work life as much as you think it will. Some social networks that I fuss about for work do not yield the highest conversions and I’ve realized that taking a break from these exhausting interactions is critical to maintaining positive mental health and energy for social media sites and interactions that do yield a high amount of engagement. If you do get a lot of conversions for your business from a specific social media site, you may consider a different solution like…

(2) Automate Social Media. I use Buffer to automate tweets for my businesses and other accounts when using social media. This enables me to completely detox without worrying that I am neglecting my audience or “leaving money on the table”. Since I rely on social media engagement for clicks, reviews, and buys of my various products, it can be difficult not to worry. Automation takes away the burden of keeping my finger on the pulse. Another method to automate is to hire a virtual assistant to help you post. I have little experience in hiring VAs but I use Upwork to find other freelancers and they do have virtual assistants willing to help you out (at a cost!)

(3) Delete apps from your cell phone. I have taken this a step further and I no longer use cellular data on my phone at all. Yes, this is largely because I haven’t gone to Digicel to claim my new LTE SIM card, but I’ve been forced to take stock of my cell phone usage in a whole new way. Deleting social media apps has the same effect. When you’re no longer carrying all these distracting notifications in your pocket, you better appreciate the beauty of the present moment. Once you’ve automated your social media, this step will do a lot to foster detachment from social media.

(4) Indulge in a hobby. Taking a break from social media is the perfect time to indulge in a creative hobby. I prefer creative hobbies to more passive hobbies because I can tap into the “source” of good ideas and explore. Playing in this space can be beneficial for mental health and serve as a reminder that life is more than interactions, engagement and obsessing over metrics and numbers. Great hobbies that replace social media include drawing, painting, photography, dancing, sewing, knitting, reading or more extroverted like participating in a sports team, local clubs or cooking with family members. Really anything can replace social media and bring a deeper level of connection than what’s possible online.

(5) Break the addiction. Take a long enough break from social media that you can reconnect without feeling the “need” to refresh or to “check-in”. For me, this is usually around a week. Remember, I work online so whether I like it or not, social media can be a huge part of my daily life and it’s easy for this work necessity to metastasize into something unhealthy. This is something that’s difficult to discuss because no one wants to admit to feeling addicted to social media — there’s a stigma to addiction and many people believe they aren’t addicted to social media at all. Once you’ve broken the compulsive need to check on things, to post, to like, to update and to entertain, you can return to your work with fresh eyes and a greater mindfulness as to the impact of your work and what you’re putting out there.

Right now, it’s December 1st and I’m gearing up for a busy twenty days of round the clock work as I prepare for my longer-than-normal vacation at the end of the year. I can’t wait to leave everything running on autopilot and reconnect with the people I love, with my creative energy and most importantly, with myself. My small business this year has been a whirlwind of positivity, yet despite all this, I still feel drained by the pressure of “keeping up” online.

It’s a fact of what I do and for many millennials, this rings true whether or not you work on the internet. There’s this pressure to keep up, to keep your finger on the pulse and to “stay informed”. We’re the generation of FOMO and while there’s nothing wrong with it, we can become overwhelmed and negative. Take a break. Don’t feel guilty about it. Unwind, and enjoy taking much-needed space.

37 COMMUNITY BUILDING EXERCISES FOR MILLENNIALS

Online activism is a hot mess to me these days, and I've largely lost interest in 99% of the activities that I was once interested in. This is just a reality of increasing responsibilities and a shifting of my energy to activities I believe serve me better.

If it isn’t local feminist groups sharing videos suggesting that “I am Chris Brown” is a “movement” for black men to join, it’s homophobia, classism, or something else. Frankly, it’s exhausting and I no longer have the energy or proclivity to have “discussions” with people who are unwilling to educate themselves on the basics before assuming they’re correct.

There are a number of contemporary resources for educating yourself about feminism in the Caribbean, my blog included, and of course, scores of books, many of which I’ve already listed previously on my blog, or I’ve linked throughout my previous posts.

(Quick aside: When it comes to reading and educating myself about history, my most recent read has been “An Indigenous People’s History of the United States” by Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz. This is a great read if you’re interested in learning more about the real history of the United States from the perspective of those who are indigenous to the country. I made it a point in the past to learn about the land I was occupying during university when I took a class called “Native People’s of Northern New England”. I learned about the different Algonquian ethnic groups, specifically the Abenaki, whose land we occupied up in cold Vermont.)

Still, in 2018, I don’t think it’s unfair to give this blog the ax. I toyed with the idea, but I think there’s still room for the occasional reflection on West Indian Critic. If you want to see more of me online, there are plenty of other places to do so which will have little explicit to do with politics.

If you too are seeing disillusionment with social media activism and you’re curious about what you can fill your time with, let me suggest offline community building, which has been my current focus.

For me, this means dedicating time to my immediate and extended family, dedicating time to the land via National Trust membership, and more. Here are 3 of the ways I’ve redirected my focus in ways that directly impact poor black women in Saint Lucia:

1. Attending National Trust Meetings, paying dues & educating friends/family about the trust’s activities

This is as straightforward as it sounds. I’ve paid my dues to the Trust and I spend time on many of their sites, most popular for me are Pigeon Island, the women’s battery in Vigie, as well as Sandy Beach. In a country where the media is constantly battling against the welfare of our citizens, you will find politicians spreading negative propaganda about the National Trust.

It helps when trusted members of the community cut through the noise and explain the truth in a clear manner. To cut through political propaganda, you have to make the person listening feel heard. This is difficult and to do this I practice a method called Non-Violent Communication, created by psychologist Marshall Rosenburg.

During this method of discussion you can empathize effectively and it is both harder to dismiss others than to be dismissed. Offline, it can be easier to explain what you mean and to reach a respectful understanding of the truth. The National Trust’s protection of natural sites around Saint Lucia and their interest in the people of Saint Lucia make them a wonderful group to stand behind and support. Their goals and views are consistent, if not amongst individual members, at least among the organization.

They do good work for the larger community and are active in protecting the land which is a cause I 100% support.

2. Shopping from the Castries Market

The majority of the vendors are poor black women who rely on agriculture to make a living. Many women I shop from have explicitly told me that without the French Caribbean tourists who come through the market, they wouldn’t be able to make ends meet.

I care about who I am enriching and I prefer to make a big impact in one person’s life than to be complicit in someone’s excessive accumulation of wealth. This doesn't mean I no longer shop at the grocery store or that I judge people who do, but I am making the conscious choice here about who I support.

I also believe that having a personal connection to my food has enabled me to appreciate it more, to eat healthier without buying into “diet culture” or even more consumerism.

Additionally, I have transitioned to partial-veganism and shopping at the Castries market makes this more sustainable as there is a wider variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from as well as other specialty ingredients I love like homegrown coffee, extra virgin coconut oil, and locally produced honey.

3. Building positive online spaces with better boundaries

I am focusing on spaces that are focused more on positivity than anything else. While there can be positive communities of activists, I have not found this to be true online for me. People might be nice enough to each other, but it’s telling that overall the tone of many groups of people is largely negative. There is a lot of competition, distrust, excessive disagreement and too much focus on garnering an audience. I find a lot of it performative and narcissistic, which may have been appealing when I was a bit younger, but it's not interesting to me now.

I believe I myself have fallen into this trap online, of focusing on all the wrong ideas, and it’s no longer serving me. At all. It took me a long time to realize that, but I need to be working towards something positive and to have a positive mindset towards my community.

Let’s not act as well like multiple people who seek social media popularity for social issues have quite narcissistic reasons for doing so. I don’t enjoy the uncertainty in who I'm approaching or talking to. There are a few specific incidents that have led to this that I don't want to discuss but let's just say that most are not out there walking the walk.

If spaces are built in such a way that they attract more positive discussions, I think that is psychologically better for me as a black woman in the long run.

Despite some negativity I get on my YouTube channel, which doesn’t bother me much, it’s a largely positive space where I enjoy sharing bits and pieces of my life in Saint Lucia and highlighting the realities of living here… whether you like what I have to say or not. I find Instagram to be the best platform I use outside of my regular job, so I’m really working on building that online community.

I love visual platforms and while I struggle with imposter syndrome sometimes, I largely enjoy using them. Maybe that shift has to do with writing becoming my full-time job. Regardless of the reasons, I welcome the shift.

Here are 37 other community building ideas to inspire you to take action:

- Consider a small monthly donation to someone in your family who lives in poverty (obviously this assumes you have money to spare)

- Enjoy a yoga/meditation/prayer practice that nourishes you spiritually

- Mentor someone in your community

- Teach someone in your community to swim (this assumes that you can swim and have the skills to teach someone to swim. Don’t drown your neighbor.)

- Learn CPR/First Aid

- Pay for a child’s meals/schoolbooks in your community

- Work with your friends to meet savings goals together. If they’re trusted friends, consider sous sous to save money.

- Work on something cultural: mas camp, putting on one of Derek Walcott’s plays, creating a YouTube channel of local herbal remedies, creating a blog documenting your family’s oral history, sew national dress, make farine etc.

- Encourage your friends to get their annual STD blood tests (and get yours too…)

- Educate older relatives about homophobia, sexism, transphobia and ableism in a respectful manner if the situation presents itself

- Support your favorite online creator on Patreon

- Listen to someone whose opinions you disagree with and try to find some common ground (***USE WITH CAUTION. Don’t go arguing with people who will just get you vex. Pick people you can have civil discussions with. Be the civil one in the discussion.)

- Share your favorite “social justice” book with someone

- Share your favorite underrepresented rapper/singer without guilt-tripping people into listening to them. Write a passionate reason why we should get into their music rather than "you don't like her because of [x identity]". (NOTE: Yes, a lot of people are prejudiced but I'm aiming here to promote reaching out to people who WON'T be attracted to negativity.)

- Look into organizing a community dinner/soup kitchen for the homeless with your church. (Or on your own.)

- If you’re in a Christian community, have discussions with people who espouse oppressive beliefs in the name of the church. Research ways you can use scripture to back up why empathy is more important than dogma.

- Research the beliefs/traditions of an underrepresented religious minority in your area. Educating yourself about someone different can do a world of difference for your ability to empathize.

- Consider starting a community garden in your area. If this isn’t feasible, consider starting an herbal garden or an “urban garden” for yourself.

- Educate someone younger than you about our island/environment and why nature is so important. (Don’t make this a boring or scary lecture.)

- Ask your vegan friends for good recipes. Even if you aren’t vegan, it’s kind to take an interest in other people’s interests. You may learn something too.

- Buy something from a local farmer or artisan. Even better, buy something for your mom from a local artisan.

- Learn how to make something cultural: farine, coconut oil, cassava, Jamaican patties, oxtail, pemi, tamarind balls

- Work on your mental health/sleep hygiene. You are an important part of the community. Take care of your mind and your body. Make sure you’re resting. If you can’t afford to do anything else, at least you should rest.

- Learn Creole. If you know Creole, speak it or teach someone younger than you who wants to learn.

- Go visit your grandmother or a lonely elderly person in the community. Ask about their lives and see if there’s something you can help them out with. At least bring them a “raise” if nothing else.

- Attend a national trust meeting or an analogous meeting in your area. If you can’t do that? Go for a hike. Can’t do that? A walk. Can’t do that? See if your local national trust (or any environmental org) needs help with managing their social media. Offer a couple hours a week if possible.

- Donate food/clothes/toys to someone in need.

- Donate to someones “gofundme” who needs help with medical expenses.

- Offer explicit support to someone you know who is going through a difficult time. Let them know that they can rely on you. That being said, if you are in need of support, ask someone trusted for a little extra support.

- Learn about “non violent communication” and “positive discipline” so we can be kinder to the children in our community

- Learn about your island/country’s history. Share what you’ve learned in a neutral way with the people around you. Allow them to draw their own conclusions.

- Support a local artist (emotionally). Let them know how meaningful their work is to you and/or how much you respect them. This can be casually. Or by carrier pigeon. The choice is yours.

- Know someone in government? Pen a letter/email to them about an issue where they have the power to make a change. This works best if there’s a personal connection and the letter is respectful and informative rather than pushy.

- Stop using plastic bags at the grocery store — try reusable bags. This isn't going to save the entire planet, but on an island, less plastic usage has a big impact on our surrounding oceans. (Look into the Castries Harbor if you think individuals can't make an impact here...)

- Visit the beach. Better yet make it a BBQ and invite people.

- Relax. Seriously, take a break. Delete all your social media if you have to. It’s okay not to be hooked to your phone’s buzz all day long. (I say this as someone who works online. I’m a responsible entrepreneur, what can I say.)

- Do you have a special skill? See if you can arrange to teach a free class on your skill once a week. Yes, this includes artists, coders, cooks, seamstresses.

I hope some of these ideas inspired you to get out into your community today and make a difference. Of course, feel free to tweet about it too, or connect with friends online over what you’re doing out there to make a difference.

See ya on February 28th. COMMENT your own community building ideas down below and check me out on social media once you’re done reading this post.

Women's Wednesdays: Carnival Is Not A "Feminist" Space

Carnival is not a feminist space simply because there is nothing that materially or theoretically differentiates carnival from what it is like living as a woman in the Caribbean on a daily basis. While carnival can be a positive space for some women on an individual basis, we cannot too liberally apply the label of "feminist" to any space where women feel happy.

Yes, Caribbean women deserve to feel happy, positive about their bodies and to enjoy their lives. I would never debate this! However, Caribbean feminists need to recognize that feminism isn't the accidental result of large groups of women gathered together. It is intentional activism that requires challenging the patriarchal system of oppression in the Caribbean daily. We cannot assume that feminism will manifest without work.

There are many angles to approach change in our culture since issues affecting women and feminists appear on every level. But it's of utmost importance that we do something and avoid falling into the trap of neoliberal white feminism like what's popular on social media. We need to be cautious and more importantly, we need to invest our time in constructive community building activities that can ensure a safer country for our women.

Women's Wednesdays: We Need More Than 'Empowerment'

Empowerment is one of those subjects for feminists that sounds like a good idea in theory and of course since the entire focus is on feeling good/strong, it can be a compelling "focus" for feminists. Caribbean feminists, however, should be focused on anything but empowerment. Empowerment is a feeling, an idea, a notion. Empowerment is nothing concrete and tends not to have any real long-term measurable impact.

"Empowerment" is about a feeling but feminist political action should be focused entirely on the concrete. We live in a country where rape and incest have been normalized. We live in countries where street harassment is so normalized that some women even believe that they "like it". (What they really like is the validation which is another tragedy to unpack on another day). We live in countries where there are anti-buggery laws and where teachers tell their classrooms that we "are not ready for a female prime minister*)

This focus on "empowerment" seems to be a part of the popular feminism espoused by the upper-middle and upper-class women in this region. Feminist praxis fails to extend beyond their scope which is truly rooted in a desire for the same economic power that men have. They do not desire liberation for working class women or poor women because their self-image still hinges upon their superiority.Without examining class as it relates to empowerment and as it relates to feminism, any Caribbean feminist movement will seem half-baked. The praxis will be weak and when a movement is supported by weak praxis, it will easily be destroyed as the foundation is built on sand. A feminist movement that doesn't center the most marginalized communities in the Caribbean will be doomed to fail.

Upper-middle and upper-class feminists that feel a drive towards feminism that focuses on "empowerment" need to ask themselves tough questions about their priorities and work on empathizing with women who come from less privileged circumstances. Who are you empowering? What is the long-term and tangible impact of empowerment? What motivates you to be a feminist?All of these questions form a good starting off point for building a feminist movement in this country that will be built to last.

*This happened in my younger cousin's classroom in primary school in Saint Lucia

Men In Feminism?

[[Author’s Note 06/2019: This post was written when I was still finding my footing with pivoting this blog and it’s a little out of place but I decided to leave the post in tact as I still find myself agreeing with the general sentiment here.]] 

Men in feminism?I am no longer interested in trying to educate men about feminism. Period. The men's issues section of this blog is intended to help women think about patriarchy, how it impacts men, and is more of a guide for how women should approach discussing men's issues without dismissing the ways that patriarchy primarily impacts women. This is especially important in the Caribbean where at every opportunity women RUSH to prove that they "don't hate men" or that people "discriminate against fathers". Aren't there bigger problems on our hands than wondering how we can cater to men's feelings at every opportunity?

This push to ameliorate men's feelings at every turn is actively drawing attention away from women's issues that are ignored completely. People are more concerned about "father's getting a bad reputation" for example than they are concerned with the fact that many fathers mistreat and abuse people to get this bad reputation.Our culture is 100% centered around men's feelings and comforts at every turn. There's no room to center men in Caribbean feminism if we ever want to have an effective women's movement that liberates women from patriarchal oppression. Men's issues Monday is for us to discuss how we relate to men within feminism, what issues are worth dissecting and how we should fight our instincts to center men in every single conversation.

Caribbean men's issues are often forced into the center of our dialogue by gas-lighting men who pretend that single incidents (mostly perpetrated by men) are supposed to take center stage over centuries of women's global oppression. We would do our best to ignore these narcissistic misogynists who foam at the mouth to prove the non-existence of women's oppression and instead focus on how we can effect communal and structural change for West Indian women.