There is a French proverb that says: “Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés”, which would translate as follows: “To live happily, live discreetly”. I think it’s fair to say social media does the exact opposite of that.
Earlier this year, I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts. The only reason I didn’t delete my Instagram was to keep the history of all the amazing pictures & stories I shared while I was travelling, but I’m not posting anything on it anymore. Some things happened in my private life that made me realise I don’t need social media. I did what everyone should do when something is becoming toxic to them: I detached myself from it. Below are 3 good reasons why I think everyone should be careful with social media:
You can easily inspire jealousy
Sharing happy moments publicly is not always a good idea, especially if it’s something not everyone can do/have and therefore would envy. They can always pretend and like your posts but the truth is they don’t really want to know. It’s hard to distinguish who really has your best interest at heart and sometimes you can find out in a pretty harsh way with social media. Some people would secretly celebrate your failures, more than they would publicly celebrate your successes. Keep that in mind.
You don’t need “social validation”
You don’t need anyone to validate your opinions, your decisions, or anything that is supposed to be completely down to you (and you only). There is a balance between what you should keep private and what you can share online, and it’s important to get this balance right. I also realised that people tend to “like” the person behind the post rather than the post itself. If you want people to judge the quality of your content rather than your own popularity, then you’re much better off with an audience full of complete strangers.
You don’t need social media to stay in touch with real friends
If you feel like you would lose contact with some friends by staying away from social media, then maybe you were never really friends in the first place. Maybe it will actually make you want to talk to them directly via other communication channels and you’ll quickly find out if you could be bothered to stay in touch or not. Same applies to them. Ask yourself who you really want to share your life events with!
On the flip side, I think social media is very useful for businesses (especially for a marketer like me) and it wouldn’t be wise to avoid it or underestimate its power. I feel happier without it in my personal life. As a piece of advice to anyone who’s willing to hear it, keep your private life private and your cards close to your chest. You’ll live more happily (at least that’s what the French say). How do you use social media yourself?
Bali is such a popular destination that I don’t know many people around me who have never been there. Over the years, social media – mostly Instagram – has contributed to its success. There is no place more photogenic than Bali, it’s literally impossible to take a bad picture and I was really keen to discover this place everyone was talking about. Over 2 weeks, we stayed in 4 different locations to have a better chance to visit more places: Seminyak (close enough to the airport so ideal to start with), then took a boat to Gili Air (one of the 3 Gili islands close to Bali), Jasri and then Ubud (perfect to round off our trip).
I remember Seminyak for being so crowded. You’ll find an amazing beach at sunset, many cool restaurants dotted around and loads of markets to find clothes and souvenirs. But there are a lot of tourists too, everywhere. It’s one of those places you can hear all sorts of European languages around you and bump into many Australians who are here to party. Seminyak would be for Australians what Ibiza is for Europeans. So we simply enjoyed our quiet villa with our own swimming pool, rather than fighting to find a nice spot at the beach. I feel very old writing this.
In search of a slightly more rustic lifestyle, we took a boat to Gili Air, the smallest of the 3 Gili Islands. We stayed overnight on this tiny island and it was epic to be able to cycle all around it in less than 2 hours (mostly because it’s quite hard to cycle on deep sand…). The island is Muslim – as part of Lombok – so you can hear prayers from the Mosque several times a day (including in the middle of the night) which resonates across the entire island. There are not a lot of inhabitants, they live with almost nothing and yet they seem so happy… Slowly rebuilding everything after the earthquake in 2018.
There was no worse experience than our boat trip back to Bali… Several hours below deck in an overcrowded boat without any AC (fans were also not working), going so fast than we smashed into every wave and I thought I was going to vomit my previous meal (and I’m not usually seasick). We felt like cattle being transported. Visiting the Gili islands is definitely worth it but bear in mind the conditions to get there are not going to be your usual luxury. Don’t forget to read reviews properly before you book your “ferry”, not all companies are equal.
This time we came back to Padang Bay and stayed at Jasri, where it was a lot less touristic than Seminyak. We loved wondering around and about, but you don’t have a lot of autonomy if you’re not local in this area. Our villa did offer services from a chef and a driver, so we used both to make the most of it. Some parts of Bali are more quiet but it also means you need to use extra services, it’s down to you what you prefer!
Because of all the Instagram pictures I’ve seen about the Heaven’s Gate, I really wanted to go there so we booked a day trip with our driver. Let me tell you something, and it’s not going to be pretty but I want to be honest here, this experience is the reason why I would openly say Bali is victim of its success. Too many tourists with specific needs and a thirst for popularity on social media result in Balinese people trying to meet the demand. I kid you not, we queued 2 hours for a picture of us in front of the gates. Not even a real picture, they used a black mirror to create an illusion of water’s reflection under our feet. A bit disappointing for people like us who were in search of a whole experience and not a tourist trap. So I wanted to share a more genuine picture below, same place but no special effects and no lie:
Ubud is probably one of the best areas in Bali, a lot more artsy and cultural. It’s also more central so you can easily stay there for your entire holiday and visit most things from one place (unless you want to stay near a beach). The number 1 attraction is the Sacred Monkey Forest. This place is gorgeous, only problem is it’s full of monkeys (as you would expect) and we didn’t feel 100% comfortable walking around. It’s not enough to store food in your bag, they will rip it open if they have to! They don’t understand privacy and their unpredictable nature was a real challenge for my other half who didn’t enjoy the visit as much as I did. Just saying, in case you’re not a fan of monkeys either.
Ubud is surrounded by rice terraces, but November didn’t seem to be the right time of the year to visit Tegalalang as everything was already harvested. Still worth going, just avoid other tourist traps like swings attached to the trees, that didn’t seem very safe to us. I’m sure it looks great on Instagram though.
We’ve been to many places and took a lot of pictures but we still felt like we didn’t learn much about Balinese culture so we also watched a traditional dance and musical drama from Bali: the Kecak & Fire dance. It was an hour of strange show without musical instrument, just a chorus of men repeating “chak, chak, chak!”. We learnt later that it was to represent an army of monkeys. This is usually performed at sunset and at the end they light up a fire to dance on it.
Bali is the island of the gods and demons. We found small offerings (mini baskets made of banana leaves, filled with pretty flowers and some fruits, sweets and/or cookies) pretty much everywhere on the floor. They are a sacred form of gratitude for peace and abundance in the world from the Balinese people, devoted to their gods. Most of the time, they end up being walked over by tourists or eaten by stray dogs though…
Other random things I’d like to say about Bali:
It’s not safe to drive there yourself, you need a driver. They negotiate a price for the entire day and you can ask them to drive you anywhere. It’s a great way to talk to a local and ask questions about the culture too.
In some places there are motorcycles everywhere… Seminyak for example. Some tourists rent them for more freedom but I’ve seen many with bad injuries and again I wouldn’t recommend it. Locals are clearly more comfortable with it and are not bothered carrying 2 adults, 2 kids, a dog and sometimes even loads of extra stuff on it (all at the same time).
You have to negotiate before you buy clothes in a market. If you don’t, be aware you’ll pay 4 times more than you should… It’s part of the game and it’s actually fun to do. Don’t go too low though, that would be a form of disrespect and they still have to earn money.
The island relies so much on tourism that any service will be charged. They will do their best to keep you happy though, Balinese are lovely people with a constant smile on their face.
Don’t drink tap water… It will make you sick. Most villas have a drinking water fountain anyway. Otherwise you can find safe water bottles everywhere but don’t forget to bring some with you when you’re on the road.
Fruits are what I miss the most from Bali… They’re everywhere thanks to the climate and they’re so good that I find fruits in Europe very bland in comparison. Watermelon and dragon fruits are definitely my favourite.
Bali will always have a special place in my heart because that’s where I got engaged. But I feel we would pick another destination for our honeymoon as its popularity made us feel too much like tourists, when we wanted to enjoy the scenery a bit more incognito. If you’ve been to Bali too, share your experience in the comments below!
Last Saturday was World Mental Health Day, I couldn’t think of a better time to watch the documentary The Social Dilemma. Social media has started to show a negative impact on people at many levels way before the pandemic started. This is a very interesting film to watch as it gathers several former employees from big companies such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. They are very worried about future generations and this is why.
The former employees showcased in this documentary are all pretty young… That’s because social media haven’t existed for too long yet! Sometimes we tend to forget there used to be a time when we didn’t have social media. I was already 22 years old when I discovered Facebook (back in 2007), so at least I went through the difficult teenage years in high school without it. But some youngsters have grown up with it and don’t know any different than online connections being their primary connections. What impact did it have on them? Well, according to this documentary, the suicide rate among girls aged 15-19 has increased by 77% compared to last decade and by 151% among girls aged 10-14 in the United States. These girls are the first generation using social media since middle school. It’s not a coincidence.
Of course young girls are not the only ones impacted, everyone is. At the end of the day, all social media are competing for your attention with the ultimate goal of making as much money as possible. They collect as much data as they can to hack people’s psychology and build models to predict their actions. The level of information available is unprecedented, everything is monitored. Have you ever noticed you and your friends were not targeted by the same ads? And how the ads you see vary based on what you’ve just typed or even said?
“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”
Any addiction is dangerous and they make sure you’re addicted to your screen so they can keep making profit. Nowadays, most people waste a lot of time on social media when they’re bored. It’s an easy way to kill time. What worries me the most is the way it changes our values to a point we don’t know who we are anymore. We are in constant search for social approval and would do anything to fit in. When I realised that, I decided to delete my personal Facebook account 2 months ago…
I haven’t missed it since. I realised I needed to share my thoughts more than I needed to share a stupid chain I didn’t even relate to. What I needed was to write for an audience of people I didn’t know in real life. That’s why I started this blog 2 weeks ago, it is not shared with anyone in my network. It’s just you – complete online stranger – and me. That way, I don’t censor myself. I’m not looking for social approval from my friends, I’m just looking for genuine followers who want to talk about the same things.
My conclusion? Ok to social media but only if its use is restricted. In my opinion, all kids and teenagers should grow up without it but it’s impossible to control. At least make sure you set time for yourself without any distraction, ban your phone when you eat and when you’re spending time with someone in real life for example (even if it happens less often nowadays). It’s time to change the conversation.