I first came across Slow Living on TikTok a year or two back. As I scrolled through my feed, there it was: an escape from the never-ending loop of social media. The video, which I can no longer find, suggested some ways of incorporating slowness into your everyday life. For instance, the creator said, instead of watching TV while eating, you should pay attention to the textures and flavours of the food. And when you do end up watching a film, put down your phone. I have always been that person who annoyingly deletes and reinstalls social media apps, turns to flight mode every time I want to get stuff done, and always complains about being so dependent on my phone. Discovering slow living felt like a reminder that there are other ways to live.
Slow living comes from the Slow Food movement, which emerged in Italy in 1980’s as a reaction to the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant in the centre of Rome. Its aim was to maintain a traditional, sustainable, and slow food culture, staying away from the consumerist overproduction habits of fast-food companies. Slow living encompasses various practices, not only slow food, but also slow travel, slow fashion and slow working. Slow Living LDN, a website founded by Beth Crane in 2018, describes the movement as a way of “switching off the autopilot”. It is about living your life intentionally and consciously— savouring moments instead of rushing through them— aligning yourself with the earth and with nature, stepping away from this fast, fast world.
Taking time to yourself, living intuitively, unlearning biases about productivity and self-worth, it all sounds great, doesn’t it? I wish I could say that it changed my life, but honestly, even if that first TikTok was truly eye opening, I haven’t done much to change my habits. Even though I crave a more meditative approach to life, I still watch TV when I eat, and I still spend way too much time on my phone. And if I’m being honest, going in autopilot mode can be really nice. Perhaps a little mind numbing, but if you have about five deadlines fast approaching, zoning out is kind of a relief. I mean, it is not always a blessing to be alone with my sleep deprived, over-caffeinated thoughts.
In some ways, it feels ironic that it was my excessive use of social media that made me come across slow living. All these people, making videos of their slow, serene lives. They harvest their own vegetables and bake their own bread. They make a beautiful looking breakfast and I watch them really savour the moment— that is, when they’re not busy adjusting the camera angles. They are so much better than me, while I sit here and scroll and scroll and scroll, they tell me that they never ever use their phones and laptops – as if they don’t need to edit the video, find the trending sounds, find the right hashtags, build up a follower count, respond to comments, the list goes on. I don’t blame these creators though, because I think a lot of what they are saying is valuable; it’s just a shame it’s coated in an unattainable level of cottagecore perfection.
While I am somewhat sceptical towards these videos, they do inspire me to try to live more slowly, but I wonder to what degree that is possible. I try to breathe a lot as I write this. I listen to the click of my keyboard as I type. The clinking sound as I put down my teacup on the new ceramic coaster is quite beautiful. I like the feel of this blanket on my body. The dancing flame of my new candle is kind of mesmerising. I like noticing these things which I am not normally aware of. I feel calm. However, I also know that as soon as I finish writing this piece, I will rejoice in being able to tick it off my list, hurrying on to the next task.
Matilda Eker, she/her
photograph by Matilda Eker