What I Learned From My Instagram Break
Here is a brain dump for y’all.
About a month ago, I deleted the instagram app. I dedicated a blog post to it, explaining that the app frankly wasn’t serving me at the moment. I told myself I need to step away from its addicting filters, and reset myself in this booming, “social world”.
During my time off instagram, I didn’t have this wondrous epiphany at how much more free time I had. Yes, I wasn’t scrolling aimlessly through strangers pictures during my free time, but I was also finding other distractions to keep me from my work. What did I take away from this? That I am human.
Observation 1: Distractions are all around you.
I also figured I would be happier without the app, because I wouldn’t be caught up in comparing myself to others. Yes, distancing myself from that trap was helpful, but my unhappiness didn’t just stem from a little phone app. I was just as unhappy when I face planted on the bus or when my computer gave out on me and lost all my precious documents. I started to realize that Instagram was a small component in contributing to my up’s and down’s of the world, despite accusing it for all my mental instabilities.
Observation 2: Happiness is a choice.
What I did find from my Instagram break, was that I really didn’t care so much to see what others were doing. Apologies in advance if I hurt anyone’s feelings, but watching other people around me scroll through different lives just helped me realized that I had a duty to live my life. Not spend all of my time with updates from other’s. My time is precious and valuable, and I want to make sure I spend it correctly.
Observation 3: No one else is going to tell you how to live.
From stepping away from insta, I found myself reading more off my eReader. (I have mixed feelings about why I am more prone to pull out my phone and read a page off my nook app than physically pick up a book to read the same page length, but that’s another story for another time). The nook app is so conveniently located on my phone, that I am able to pull it out and read literally wherever. The bus, the train, the Uber, the waiting time in between classes…the list goes on. Currently, I am reading “What Made Maddy Run: The Secret Struggles and Tragic Death of An All-American Teen”. It is a story of a college athlete whose life and death by suicide reveal the struggle of young people suffering from mental illness today.
This evening, the author truly resonated with me, and I wanted to share what she wrote. She differentiates between “feeling good” and portraying yourself on social media and “feeling bad” while scrolling through all of the photos. Though I have had thoughts about these differences before, I felt that the way she phrased it captured the meaning behind it extremely well:
“One of the trickiest parts of social media is recognising that everyone is doing the same thing you’re doing: presenting their best self. Everyone is now a brand, and all of digital life is a fashion magazine. While it’s easy to understand intrinsically that your presence on social media is only one small sliver of your full story, it is more difficult to apply that logically to everyone else.” ~ Kate Fagan
I have no issue admitting that we brand ourselves when we make that social media account, and I thoroughly enjoy editing photos, and figuring out what my viewers want to see. But from my perspective, the point the author is trying to make goes way beyond marketing and branding. She further talks about how often we are in this “sane” and safe place when spending time on social media platforms. Of course, when we are thinking clearly and have the ability to recognize the curated scheme, every thing is okay. But what happens when we aren’t in that happy place? How then, does social media and the internet contribute to our negative thoughts and actions?
I made the decision to delete the instagram app because I was able to identify what was aiding in my negative thoughts. I made the decision to walk away from it. I didn’t adopt an “all-or-none” mentality where I would vow never to allow myself back on a social media platform again - I simply just took a break. And it worked for me. This (I find) is a much healthier attitude. Living in extremities only further escalates the dramatic rises and drops of our moods. Moving forward, I ask you to think about how certain things (not necessarily instagram) contribute to your “bad mood” or anxiety over something maybe so mundane. Before my break, I was feeling this pressure to “do everything” and have that amazing “abroad" experience from watching what everyone else was doing. But guess what? That is not my life. My experience abroad will be completely different to everyone around me. And that is actually, pretty damn neat.
From this reflection, I hope to continue checking in on myself to evaluate what is serving me, and how I am spending my time. Considering I have only so many months here in Australia, I want to make sure I fill up each day with experiences that I want to do to. Not what others want…not what the gram wants. Just for me. Sometimes I feel selfish, but I remind myself this:
if I am unable to take care of myself, how do I expect myself to care for others?