I joined Instagram sometime around 2012, I think. I can’t tell you exactly when because I don’t have access to my Instagram account right now. It’s out in the void of the lost internet, absent from access, until curiosity possibly gets the better of me and I reactivate my account – currently I have no plans and no hope for this to happen.
Like so many people, I got caught up in the Instagram bubble. I tapped through stories to make sure I was caught up with people, or I might have missed something important that they assumed I knew because I was on Instagram. How many things would I miss if I skipped a day, or a week, or a month, or a year?
I don’t want to close my eyes, I don’t want to fall asleep, because I’d miss your Insta post and I don’t want to miss a thing.
Even Aerosmith are torn about it too.
It rarely made me feel good about myself. I thought it made me feel good about myself, because I had lots of people I shared and interacted with, and them with me, who lifted me up and motivated me. It was only when, exhausted and realising I’d spent a bit too long scrolling one evening, I took a break. I deleted the Instagram and Facebook apps (I also deleted Tinder, but that’s deserves a whole other blog post). I occasionally flicked through Facebook on my internet browser and on a couple of occasions I redownloaded Instagram. It made me feel rubbish. I felt like I fuelled some sort of deeply ingrained self-destructive comparison behaviour. I was a magnet to the ones who were looking hotter than me, going out more than me, cooking prettier food than me, earning more money than me, going on sunnier holidays than me, having more weddings and more babies than me, reading more meaningful books than me, going on more impulsive adventures than me, running further than me.
After pulling myself away again after five minutes, a black cloud was already hanging over my head. My self-belief shrivelled and I wanted little more than to curl up into a ball and cry for a bit. It doesn’t take a genius to put two and two together and figure out that Instagram made me pretty miserable.
I officially left Instagram a week ago, but I deleted the app and stopped using it a couple of weeks prior. Since my absence, I’ve met up with friends I hadn’t seen in months; I’ve spent more time walking and less time driving; I’ve been reading more; I’ve been cooking more; I’ve been running more. Weirdly enough, these are the things I posted about on Instagram. If you had looked through my stories and my posts, you’d have seen that I do lots of cooking, running, walking, socialising. In reality, I felt short of time and had stopped making space in my life for those things. I could sit down for five minutes for a quick scroll, and there I’d be an hour later still scrolling. I knew I spent a lot of time on social media, but I didn’t realise that social media was the reason I felt short of time.
I’ve found lost time. I don’t need to compromise on the things that make me happy. I’ve got time to spend on things that make me happy. It turns out I can keep up-to-date with things going on in the lives of people I love through WhatsApp and seeing their beautiful faces in person. So, for now at least, I don’t feel like I’m missing out.
I don’t hate social media. Social media is great – it connects people. But it doesn’t make me feel good, and that’s reason enough for me to say goodbye.