Why I Stopped Using Instagram
I haven’t been on Instagram for nearly four months. I know, cue the gasps and shock-face emojis. That’s a looong time, especially for a blogger.
Social media is the lifeblood of society and the blogging world. If you’re not on it then you’re “out of the loop.” It’s where friends stay in touch, where we connect with favorite brands, and where we go to zone out for a bit. We can get inspiration and connections that solidify into friendships there or head down dark vortexes of comparison and self-aggrandizement. There is little regulation and your overall experience on social media can be largely up to your self-control (by how long you spend there, who you follow, and how you choose to interact with others).
Thing is, we humans are known for our lack of said control. And it doesn’t help that social media is designed to be a bit addicting. The more you’re plugged in, the more ads you see and the more money the platform earns, so they’re actually incentivized to keep you there.
Last year, I started a 10-day social media fast in response to a challenge. What I found surprised me. The first few days were tough. I had to get over the automatic response I had to get on Instagram whenever I turned on my phone. Sometimes my fingers would even navigate there on their own! But after a little while I stopped thinking so much about what everyone else was doing on IG.
I became more present in my day-to-day activities and with my daughter. I stopped documenting every single bit of my life and saved some memories just for my memory. It took almost the entire ten days to fully get over the urge to see what I was missing, but once I did I was so much happier! It took me completely out of the comparison trap and planted me dead center in my own life, which I could now see was wonderful since I wasn’t trying to check out every free minute I had.
I didn’t start my four months off social media thinking it would go that long. Honestly, I was just tired. I found out that I was expecting and morning sickness and fatigue hit hard. The time I usually spent planning posts (during my little one’s nap) was replaced by 100% necessary daily naps for me. And a hormonal depression ensued after bedtime, leaving me with no energy for taking care of myself, let alone posting to social media. I figured I’d do a week or two fast like I had in the fall and then jump back in. But, just like the first social media fast, I found that it was so much better for my mental health not to be on those sites. I liked how I felt when I focused on caring for myself with more compassion, borne of letting go of societal expectations that weren’t even related to me personally.
As I allocated my energy to only the most important things: taking care of myself, my family, and those around me; naturally everything else fell away and allowed me to enjoy some of the simple joys I had been missing. I still felt awful, but I was more at peace. I was also able to see more clearly since I wasn’t comparing my home or life to all the perfectly curated shots others posted, and I started wanting to beautify the world around me for the sake of making something beautiful instead of keeping up with the Jones's. I found that I didn’t really need Instagram to have a happy life.
I’m not advocating that we all suddenly stop our social media use by any means. While being offline I have missed some big news, like when a friend started her own blog or another out-of-town friend had a baby. I think it’s important to be “there” for those moments. But it would be good for our mental health to take an unbiased look at our consumption of social media. Is our use of it serving us, or are we becoming servants of whatever platform we prefer? Maybe an occasional social media fast to check in with ourselves wouldn’t hurt. And with the added compassion signing off seems to give, maybe we can come back to it kinder and more aware of others than we were before.
I don’t think I’ll stay off the ‘Gram forever, but I will be very intentional about how I reintroduce it into my life. If I can use it sparingly to connect with others in meaningful ways and spread a little kindness, then hopefully I can make a little corner of the internet a little bit better.