I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile now as different thoughts have been swirling around my head about this whole “living your life online” thing. I have officially been blogging full-time for over 4 months now [although if we’re being honest, the past six years have felt pretty full time themselves]. I think we can all agree that these online careers are certainly not the traditional career route, especially in the eyes of our parents and grandparents. It’s fascinating to me the amount of opportunity that exists because of this thing called the Internet. Not only are careers available, relationships can form across the country [but on the parallel can also tear down relationships near and dear to you], it has the power of making our huge world seem really small and has a vast array of other positives yet, I think we can all agree, a few negatives as well. Which brings me to my point of today’s post – while living your life online can be awesome in a lot of great ways, it certainly has its downsides as well. Here are my thoughts on this topic:
Pro: THE FLEXIBILITY. This is probably one of the biggest draws for people to make a career shift to something that is internet based. It seems like these days it is essentially every person’s desire to be able to work from home, on a beach or in the middle of a coffee shop on a rainy day. And it is awesome, it is most definitely awesome. Not having to sit behind a desk from 8-5 is definitely worth celebrating. Being able to pour a glass of wine at 2 pm on a Wednesday because “it’s been a long day” is a pretty freeing feeling and if I happen to decide on a whim that I want to spend the afternoon poolside, I know it can actually happen. It sounds glamorous really when I spell it out that way…however, I do see a con to this. Maybe several.
Con: FINDING YOUR DAILY GROOVE BECOMES MORE CHALLENGING. Discipline can be a hard thing for somebody who is easily distracted. It becomes exponentially harder when there isn’t a firm schedule in place each and every day. I struggled with this for quite awhile after making the switch to dedicating myself to an online only career. I struggle with the “but I can say yes to virtually anything now! I am my own boss!” to “but I need to get work done! Oh well, I guess it could be done later!” I am still working on trying to create a balanced schedule for myself but my day typically goes something along the lines of work from 7:30-10:30 in the morning. Get ready, eat lunch, run errands, come home and get stuff done around the house, pick the computer back up around 4, put it down around 6 and make dinner and then pick it back up around 7 or 8 pm where I’ll live on it until 11 pm or so. It’s not a great schedule by any means. Basically, I’ve set myself up for a lot of wasted days and a lot of boring evenings. Don’t take for granted that structured 8-5 job if you are in one, it definitely has some perks to it.
Pro: SO MANY RELATIONSHIPS. It’s true, the internet has brought me some really incredible friendships. Some of my closest friends live in states thousands of miles away that exist only because of this online world. At any given moment I know I can log in online and have access to hundreds of thousands of followers that I can interact with. When I travel, I know I can put out a request for restaurant recommendations, things to do, etc and a handful of people will chime in with really awesome suggestions. I will forever be grateful for all of the friends that have been born because of this place.
Con: THEY CAN BE LONELY RELATIONSHIPS. I am a face to face people person. In being completely honest, while I may have access to hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis, it can be the loneliest feeling to only have access to those people. I could have five million followers and it would feel just as lonely. I get filled up by sitting across from somebody having a conversation. I miss passionately being in an office where I could bop around and have those “what are you up to this weekend?” type of conversations. While I do have a team [and thank God for this or else I would truly go crazy] it is still different when you are home alone for several days a week with nobody but two dogs to talk to. The internet can be a really lonely place if this is where you are turning to get filled up relationally. I have had to make it a point to pick up the phone during the day and call my sister, schedule a lunch date with friends or get out of the house and go to the grocery store just so I can see humans for five minutes.
Pro: IT’S ALWAYS ON. This goes back to my flexibility point a little bit. The internet is literally ALWAYS on. It has no set hours meaning I can get my work done at 1 pm or 1 am. Income can be generated 24/7, page views happen around the clock, new followers are clicking “like” while I am going to sleep and when I am waking up. I can step away for a week and come back and it’s all still there, operating [at a lower level, yes] but still operating. From a business standpoint, the ability to virtually run a business 24/7 is equally exciting and evil. Which leads me to my next point…
Con: IT’S ALWAYS ON. This is the hardest thing about working online. You have to decide to give it a break because it will never choose to give you a break. When you realize that you can generate an income 7 days a week, you feel the need to do just that. When you realize that people are most active on social media late at night, you feel like you need to be there to feed them content late at night. When you are laying on a beach in the Caribbean and know the wifi works perfectly fine, it is awfully tempting to “just check in, because I’m not really doing anything else productive right now..” Sunday mornings become prime time to work instead of prime time to be quiet. People are always there asking questions, messages pile up that need responses, blog posts aren’t going to magically post themselves, the internet needs you. It just doesn’t need you 24/7. I am reminding myself of this often.
Pro: EVERY ACTIVITY IS CONTENT. When you are a blogger or social media content creator or whatever you want to call it, your life is your content. You can essentially look to every thing as a possible photo, topic to write about, moment to share, etc. And the best part? All you have to do is live your life to get this content! I wrote a blog post once talking about “does social media cause you to live a cooler life?” and really, I think it’s true. I find myself saying yes to more fun things because shoot, my Instagram or blog could use the content. I think this can be a great thing because it can force you to face more fears, get off the couch on the weekends, actually make dinner once in awhile, or plan an extra party with friends a time or two during the year. Relationships can benefit from more time together, your outfits may be a tad cuter than they would be otherwise, your husband gets fed something other than fast food or you may just find yourself speaking in New York City it would have been much easier to just say no because you are scared to death.
Con: DO YOU REALLY ENJOY THE MOMENT? Of course, there is a downside to this whole “life is content” theory. Sometimes I have to check myself – how much am I really living in the moment, what are my motives in a situation and maybe, just maybe, consider the reality that the internet doesn’t need to know what I ate for dinner once in awhile [weird theory, I know]. To help with this, I have had to make a conscious effort to leave my phone behind on occasion. Boat rides – don’t need it. At a dinner with friends, just leave it in the purse. It’s a hard battle to fight sometimes between documenting vs not documenting and if it’s not proceeded with caution it can start to overtake your life. I think a little mystery from the online world can be a very healthy thing. Sometimes it’s okay to stay in sweats all day, to go MIA from the internet for a few days and to actually do something really, really cool that nobody will ever know about.
Pro: THERE IS SO MUCH OPPORTUNITY. It has blown my mind just how much opportunity exists because of the internet. One day you can be sitting behind your computer feeling like you have nothing to say and the next you can be flying to California to meet with a brand you would have NEVER expected to meet with. Every day brings new exciting challenges and you literally never know what is right around the corner. Because the internet is always changing [and at a quick pace] it keeps the boredom away. There is always MORE that you can do online. You never have to limit to yourself to “just” being a blogger – there are brand extensions, books, podcasts, clothing lines, YouTube channels, etc that you can dive into if you so decide. The world really is your oyster online, it’s just up to you to make it happen. Which leads me to the con to this pro…
Con: TOO MUCH OPPORTUNITY CAN BE PARALYZING. Being a blogger is so much more than just showing up to your blog every day and writing a new post. There is content planning, photography, social media channels that need to be posted to [Facebook, Instagram, twitter, snapchat, youtube and the list goes on], emails, brand collaborations, newsletters to create, ads to run, and the list literally never stops. I often find myself wanting to throw my arms up in the air and just yell “IT’S TOO MUCH, I’M DONE!” When you have SO many things that you should be focusing on [the should comes from playing that whole comparison game of “well she’s doing it so I should be too..”] it’s easy to stop focusing on anything. You think you need to do it all so you do nothing, because as we all know – we will never be able to do it all. Finding that sweet spot of what you can handle and what you want to do is harder than it sounds.
Pro: IT ALLOWS FOR A PLACE TO RELATE TO ONE ANOTHER. This is definitely one of the very best things that has come from living my life online. I can open up for one minute about anxiety, talk about my insane fear of having children or simply share a new favorite sweater that I wore on last night’s date night and people are on the other end saying “me too”. It has been such a great sounding board, a place to gather with like-minded people, a community of those who were there when Maggie passed away truly a tribe of women who I can look to to learn from, pray for, laugh with, cry together and all of those wonderful emotional evoking things that a place of “together” brings along with it.
Con: IT ALLOWS FOR A PLACE TO TEAR EACH OTHER APART. I think we are all very aware of the fact that it is much easier to be mean behind a keyboard than it is to one another’s face. Sometimes you may something that really evokes a negative response from somebody, sometimes you stumble upon a whole message board of people tearing you apart, sometimes you may be having a rather blah day and one little comment of “you look like you gained 10 pounds” can send you into a pile of tears and self-doubt. Opening up yourself to the words of the internet can be a very scary thing, but I’d like to think that the good far outweighs the bad. It’s not about the negativity, it’s about how you choose to respond to it.
And on that note – my preferred method that I choose to respond to it is often with humor. One of my favorite things about this whole online world is that there is a constant opportunity to receive feedback, hear opinions and I love that we have a community here at Living In Yellow that isn’t afraid to voice their opinions. We recently selected some of our favorites that made us laugh and decided to do our own little segment of “Erin reads funny comments” [think Celebrities read mean tweets] except these aren’t mean, but humorous about some of the outfits that I have featured here. I hope you enjoy the video but mostly, I hope you enjoyed today’s post. I am sure more thoughts will come to me over time so don’t be surprised if you see a follow up to this eventually! If you live your life online, what is one pro or con that you can think of which I didn’t discuss today? I’d love to hear your thoughts!