Going Offline: How I Disconnected to Seek Connection

My mind has been all over the place. With +20 open tabs, and a grocery list of articles to read, I could not do anything for more than 60 consecutive seconds. I felt addicted. To the anticipation of refreshing pages, to the thrill of posting new content, to the instant gratification of another like. I was addicted, but worse than that – I could not focus.

Being an emerging artist, social media and online presence is key for brand awareness and building a follower base. Sivan Ilan is still a one-woman show, so in addition to creating artwork I end up spending a big chunk of my time doing the work of a PR person, social media coordinator and photographer, to name a few. No complaints here, though. I am deeply in love with every aspect of the process, and passionate about bringing my artwork to light, so every single thing is done with much dedication. That being said, I felt this merry-go-round has to be halted, or else I might just get sick.

So in a resolution to cure myself I resorted to some drastic measures: A week spent OFFLINE. Crazy, I know. First to go was Facebook. Easy - notifications turned off. Then I archived and closed all my open tabs. Catch you later, never ending list of Ted talks. Following was the biggest challenge of all – Instagram. This had to be done, but pulling the plug was harder than imagined. Goodbye stories, au-revoir new followers, farewell frienemie algorithm.

Monday morning felt weird. I usually post my ritual rise + shine story, and not being able to share my AM walk to the gym felt like not being able to text an ex after a break-up. Trust me, I am not over-exaggerating. Try it yourself and get back to me. But then something interesting started happening: While the urge to share was still very much present, I no longer viewed things around me as potential content and was able to let my mind flow at ease and get carried away with a moment, a sight or a train of thoughts.

Another incredibly substantial thing that happened instantly after I logged off - people and conversations were extremely interesting, captivating, and reached levels of depth and authenticity without an apparent effort. All I had to do was put my phone down, and have an uninterrupted interaction.

Being present is a huge component of my process as an artist, and a value I wish to instill through my art. And yet, I was doing miserably at it. Noticing the importance and impact of real-life presence made me think deeply about its balance with a virtual one, and how I could implement that in everyday life. This Monday I'm resuming all activities with a renewed awareness, kind attention and an intention to simply be, online and offline.