Lately I have noticed how much the constant surge of information surrounding me is taking a toll on my mental state. And by that I mean that social media, like Facebook and Instagram, has a tendency to stunt my creativity. As these are important parts of my business (and everyday life) I can't just quit them - they are my channels to my colleagues and my commercial outlet. Also, I do enjoy both platforms (mostly Instagram) for a lot of things. But the fact that I carry a little bit of the internet with me everywhere I go also distracts me. Without even noting it, I swipe, read and let my eyes glaze over while staring at the screen, daily. And that - the zombie-like act of dead surfing to pass the time - really takes a toll on my energy, and my creative process.
To shield myself I have developed a number of survival tactics, to ensure that when I do want to emerge myself in the "endless scrolling" that we all do while waiting for the subway or standing in line at the grocery store, I consume information that actually inspires me. That way, I end up emerged in amazing photography, stories that actually interests me and I get to learn about things I didn't even know existed. Here are some tips on how to do this:
Whenever I see a name mentioned in a context that I think might be interesting to me, I google that name and read up on the person until I've exhausted the subject. This goes for places and phenomenons too, of course. Just last week I read up on American socialite Nan Kempner, a person I knew nothing about but who ended up inspiring me immensely.
Part two of the above mentioned tactic is that I let that first googling transport me further. So for example, while reading up on Nan Kempner I also googled all names related to her that did I not recognise, like the restaurant La Cote Basque - which led me to the name Babe Paley, and so on. In the process of reading about all of these historical people and places I was inspired and excited, and had lots of new ideas. I try to do this kind of "exercise" instead of just scrolling Facebook or habitually visiting blogs I've already checked for the day - and in the end it has made me a happier, more inspired person.
Also, I've removed apps that encourage the zombie surfing, like Facebook (I only visit that through my phone's browser) because the accessibility and push notifications stresses me out too much. Instead I have replaced it with purely inspirational apps like the Vogue app and Pinterest, and through them I find new stuff to read up on - like the Erdem + H&M collaboration or the 90's hayday photographer Arthur Elgort. If I don't have time to read up on a subject when I first find it, I put it in the Notes app on my phone and do it when I have time to kill later. This way I have learned about so many weird and inspiring things, like the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and all those that are buried there, or about the Harper's Bazaar photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe, or the strange and fascinating fact that Alice in Wonderland was made in to a porn musical in 1976 - and that it became quite a hit.
More recently I have also returned to reading physical fashion magazines. This is something I used to do frequently a decade ago (I even used to collect old fashion magazines, and the photos in this post are spreads from a 1994 issue of Elle as well as this years September issue of Vogue), but I lost the habit when smartphones came in to my life. Back in 2006 and 2007, when I was a poor art student, my Saturday ritual once a month was to buy one or two glossy fashion magazines that I would then ready very, very slowly, gulping in every page with my eyes. I've started doing this again, the last couple of months, and I've fallen back in love with the physical act of consuming a magazine that way. And I have noticed that my friends are doing it too. As if we a re collectively yearning for this "back to basics" ritual.
I believe it is natural, when one is offered everything on the proverbial platter, to want something very particular. I shut out the constant flow of inspiration by choosing what I want to consume - and most often am the happier for it. This is of course personal, and people have different ways of finding things that inspire or relaxes them, but this really works for me. I enjoy the process of learning - I always have - and of consuming things of high intellectual quality. It is my way of relaxing, letting go of what is in front of me and drifting of in to a world of trivia and decadence. If you, like me, feel drained by the presence of social media and the constant flow of (unwanted) information: you should try my method. Maybe you'll like it too. - Emily