I stopped doing it for the gram [and here’s what I learned]
A few days before the break I was killing (*wasting*) time on Instagram when I came across a post from Lauren McPhillips, better known as This Renegade Love, letting her followers know she’d be taking a two week hiatus from the ‘gram over the holidays.
It’s pretty rare that anything on Instagram makes me take a second to stop and think, but this stuck. I was sad because I like what she has to say and enjoy seeing her authentic and genuine content in my sometimes lack luster feed, but I also had this weird mix of envy and admiration. I was envious that she had the courage to walk away from a platform that was an integral part of how she made a living, when I couldn’t even go a whole day without scrolling for no reason! Mostly though, I admired her for not caring what anyone thought and taking the space she needed to feel reenergized.
Over the holidays, my Instagram scrolling remained steady. The feelings of constantly thinking I needed to story whatever cool thing was going on, while also checking up on my friends, creeping people I barely knew, and doing what we all do, comparing myself to all of the above.
A few days before NYE, my love-hate relationship with social media came to a head when a family member took a photo of me while we were out for a walk in the woods. My hair hadn’t been washed in five days, I had no makeup on, was wearing a ratty old jacket… but I felt amazing. It was one of those photos where I just looked at ease and myself. The sun was shining, I had been outside getting lots of fresh air and finally some sleep after a crazy few months at work.
A friend of mine, who knows about my off-again-on-again Insta’ relationship encouraged me to post it, knowing how rare it was for me to actually like a photo of myself. I of course thought she was nuts but after a lengthy internal debate, up it went. It got a lot of likes, which you’d think would give me the validation I was looking for but all I felt was anxious. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way but how the hell did we get to the point where an app and ‘likes’ define how we view and feel about ourselves?
I’m not one for resolutions, but to give my thumbs and brain a break, I logged out of the app and deleted it from my phone on January 1. My goal was to go two weeks without Instagram. Right now I’m at the three, and here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. I have so much more time and the battery on my phone all of sudden is never running low. It’s insane to think this is what I did for so many minutes and occasionally hours of my day when I could have been doing something more productive.
2. I don’t have to post it to prove it. I enjoy myself more when I’m out with my friends. Yes, sometimes I want to take a picture of the cool thing we’re doing, but I can do that for myself and my own memories, without needing everyone else to know, like, or comment on it.
3. It’s forced me to connect with friends differently. I think when we constantly see people posting pictures or stories it gives us this fake sense of knowing them or makes us feel like our friendships are stronger than they actually are. Now, I reach out more through texts or phone calls, instead of sliding into their DMs.
4. I flat out just feel better. Mentally, emotionally, you name it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love a lot of things about Instagram. It’s a platform that gives me a lens into the cool things my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are doing. It’s the reason I know about and now write for Healthy Is Hot. It’s where I get ideas and inspiration for my home and closet. It’s where I drool over pictures of food and am enticed by new restaurant and recipes. Sometimes it’s even how I plan my trips! What it isn’t is something I need to dictate my life by, but if I’m being honest, that’s my fault not the apps.
When the time comes to log back in (at this point, I’m not sure when that’ll be) I hope I’m more mindful in my use of this social platform and others. I want it to be a small but insignificant part of my life and more importantly, I want to remember that 99% of it is curated moments in time; no one’s life is as perfect as their Instagram feed.