Dear Instagram, It's Not You - It's Me
Hi! Long time no chat.
It’s been a busy month, to say the least. Since Easter, I broke up with my boyfriend of two years, received and rejected a job offer halfway across the country, went to Cabo with friends from college, and ended up in Tampa with my family. So I hope you understand why I went a bit AWOL on y’all. But great news: Here we are.
After I returned from my trip to Mexico, my headspace was a bit fuzzy. Being around skinny bikini clad girls will do that to you, I think. It brought up some body image issues and I noticed that negative self-talk was creeping in. Lately, I’ve been trying to be more positive and on the up and up lately, so this was not welcomed.
In a moment of action, I simply deleted the Instagram app off my phone to see what it’d be like to not check it compulsively for a few days. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have Instagram; it rose exponentially in popularity when I entered college and quickly became my preferred choice of social media.
What Happened When I Deleted Instagram
First, I found that in moments of downtime and boredom, I’d turn to my phone for entertainment. I realized this is terrible because there are a multitude of benefits to being bored and I need to be okay with letting my mind wander. I would aimlessly scroll between other apps, like my email and snapchat. Note: I don’t have the Facebook app on my phone either, I simply use the internet to access it as needed. Actually, now that I pointed that out, it’s interesting to see the parallels between deleting the Facebook app and the Instagram one - but I digress.
Second, there were times when I was bored but also wanted to engage with the world. My Instagram newsfeed had been meticulously curated to reflect my personality, that of education and blogging related to health, wellness, and other miscellaneous topics of interest. I thought back to some resolutions I’ve made in the past, and one I consistently fail with is to become more educated on current events. So what did I do? I downloaded the Apple news app and curated my newsfeed to reflect my interests. To encourage myself to read more, I did a mix of business, health, current events, politics, and travel news. Now, when I want to engage with my phone and learn, I simply turn to the News app.
Third, I was a bit surprised to find out that I didn’t really miss Instagram. I didn’t become clueless about wellness trends or the best new recipes just because I wasn’t checking my feed on the reg. When I did want to check Instagram after a few days, I would log on on the internet instead. This made me less likely to spend twenty minutes watching pointless instagram stories. Apps are designed to make you get sucked in and stay active as long as possible, so using a less agile interface made me less likely to spend time on Instagram. The one downfall is that I can’t post using chrome, but I re-downloaded the app and hid it away in a subfolder so I forget about it unless I want to post something. I’ve always been keen on documentation, so I still like to post and look back on old Instagram photos, which is one of the reasons why I won’t delete my account.
But what about my end goal of crawling out of the comparison trap? I’d call it a win on that front. Instead of getting sucked into how toned Becky’s arms are or the crazy intense workout Nicole did that made me feel like a piece of lard for taking a rest day, I went about living my life. I didn’t get caught up in how my body looked amongst the Insta-world, where photos are perfectly edited. Yesterday I was at the beach with my family where I was reminded that I compare myself to the ‘best’; the famous Instagram ‘influencers’ whose only job it is is to look good. If that was my only job I’d sure as hell spend hours each day at the gym and meal prepping, but instead I work 50+ hours a week at a corporate job. Being at the beach reminded me of what’s important: I am healthy and choose to lead a healthy life because it is the key to long, plentiful life and allows me to do all of the things i want to do - dancing, running, jumping, hiking, etc. All of that to say, I don’t need to have skinner thighs than Felicia to be happy or healthy, I just need thighs that get me where I need to go.
Where I Am Now
As previously mentioned, I still have the app hidden in a subfolder for when I want to post photos or watch Insta stories of my friends or dogs. But I’ve changed my habit cycle so that when I want entertainment, I click on the news app, which is front and center on my home screen. Occasionally I’ll use Chrome to check Instagram, but I don’t feel the need to do it all the time. So it turns out that this off the cuff experiment hand a plethora of benefits that I didn’t expect.
Any suggestions on experiments I should try next? Let me know in the comments below.