12/11/20 BLOG 23: RADICAL SELF-CARE IN THE DIGITAL AGE
This week our blog comes from Elena at the Empower Project , a feminist membership organisation who support communities around online and tech based abuse. She has a few basic tips around digital self-care that may be helpful as we all spend increasing amounts of time online during the pandemic.
In 1988, Audre Lorde said “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”. Since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives in March, we’ve all been told of the importance of looking after ourselves. While the roots of self-care are in Black Feminist and Civil Rights thought, it has been capitalised on with the intention to put a price on wellbeing. The distance between the origin of self-care as a radical act could not be more different from the targeted advertising showcasing the newest range of skin care products.
The focus of The Empower Project is tackling gender-based violence in the digital age. We are an intersectional, feminist, membership organisation supporting communities to lead change to end gender-based violence in Scotland. Our focus is on responding to violence and abuse in the digital age, looking specifically at online and tech abuse; this includes image abuse (so-called revenge porn), sextortion, doxxing and harassment. We do this by creating spaces for young people to share their experiences and thoughts on tech-facilitated abuse and then support them to design local and community-based responses. We believe that radical self-care is necessary in combating tech abuse. Self-care for individuals, as well as within communities, is as important in online spaces as it is in the physical world and as part of every training we give, we ensure that digital self-care is highlighted.
With our work and social lives moving online, there is more need now than ever before to equip ourselves with the tools required to protect ourselves in online spaces and combat digital fatigue. We must strive to find a work-life balance all while operating from the same space for both. With that in mind, there are three headings to focus on when prioritising your digital self-care.
Firstly, it’s important to think about your privacy. Privacy can be anything from the level of privacy we have on our social media accounts and who can access our pages through to who we let follow us on social media accounts. Some apps will auto-set your privacy settings to basic when you update or re-install, so it’s always important to check. If you’re using online services to sell or exchange sexual images, please do not feel that those who subscribe to your profile also gain access to the rest of your online accounts, we are all entitled to a private life.
We see so much content online that it can be become really overwhelming at times. Make sure you set yourself boundaries. Boundaries is a two-fold heading, as we mean both online and offline. Online, social media platforms allow us to edit our feeds in a number of ways to limit the harmful or abusive content that we see. Take advantage of these settings! The mute feature is always a great way to remove an account’s Tweets from your timeline and of course you have the option to block users too. It’s also important to set boundaries for your digital use. Set yourself some working hours that fit your schedule if you are able to. Not everyone can work 9-5, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have set times away from your screen. Make it clear on your online profiles that you’re only available at certain times. Make sure you spend time switched off.
Think about what you need from your online world? Sometimes, we need support from our families and friends, but they also need to know your boundaries! It is okay for you not to want certain content shared of you online, even if you have an active social presence, or also use digital spaces to sell or exchange sexual images.
Self-care looks different for everyone. At the end of the day, you will know yourself what does and doesn’t work for you. You might have to try a few different things to find your balance, and you won’t get it right all the time. But persevere, look after your mind and be kind to yourself.
Thanks so much to Elena for her blog. Hopefully, there’s something you find useful around online self-care, something much needed as we all spend more time online during the pandemic. Over at the main CLiCK site, we also have more tips around online safety in case you would like to delve deeper into keeping safe online.
Hope you are all OK and see you again next week.