How Two-months off Instagram Un-ruined My Life

In November 2018, I decided to give Instagram a break after realising the negative impact it was having on my life. So what happened after deleting the app?

Before deleting it I felt like I constantly had a list of things I needed to do, plus so many things I wanted to do, yet I just couldn’t find the time. I’m a super organised person- I have a planner to map out each week- but instead of ticking things off because I’d done them, I was moving them to the following week. It was overwhelming. If I can’t get basic things done, how am I ever going to change career?

So with one swift click I removed the app from my phone.

Suddenly, my days started to feel longer. I woke up more refreshed, was able to focus far more at work, and found I had so much free time when I got home. My habit loop of scrolling aimlessly through Instagram was broken. Unsure of what to do, I went to my planner and, by some miracle, I was able to get shit done. I was no longer constantly on my phone and it was a huge wakeup call.

So with my extra time, I was able to process my thoughts, work out what was important, and do those things. The struggle I faced for almost all of 2018 was knowing that I wanted to start writing, yet I had so many different avenues I wanted to pursue. I wanted to create a personal blog about my life in New Zealand, write a novel based off a very vague storyline I’d conjured up (how the fuck do I write a whole book?) and also fantasised about the idea of starting an online editing business. Considering I work in healthcare with no degree or experience in writing, it was very overwhelming trying to work out where to start.

So I found time and my mind started to clear.

Not long after I deleted Instagram I began to notice other people with similar views. While delving into the life of Jennifer Aniston, I stumbled upon a recent interview she did for InStyle magazine (and yes, she’s still looking insanely hot).

At one point the interviewer asks if she is active on social media. Jen replied:

“I don’t have Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. I will totally admit that I can dip into Instagram and sort of be a secret voyeur […] There are times when I’ll look through and think, “Oh my god, what a time suck!” I’ve been with people who spend maybe an hour figuring out this one post, and you’re like, “That just took up an hour of your life, and it’s gone in 60 seconds.” It feels like we are losing connection. I think we’re losing conversation.”

Could she be any more spot on?

Later I watched a YouTube video where actress Emily Blunt confessed she didn’t use social media either. While explaining why she won’t take selfies with fans, Emily said:

“Social media has changed the landscape so an encounter with you is valued more as a social-media currency than a genuine interaction.”

Reading this is incredibly humbling. So often we would rather snap a photograph of a celebrity instead of having a genuine interaction with them. They are human beings just like us, after all. Wouldn’t it be better to say, “Man, me and Emily Blunt had the coolest conversation! She’s so fab,” instead of uploading a selfie that’s been snapped thousands of times before, just with a different fan’s face?

When I told a few of my friends I had deleted Instagram, my friends reacted better than I expected. “Why?” they asked me. But after excitedly explaining how happy I was after deleting it, a few of them got on board and deleted the app for the whole of January 2019!

So I wasn’t weird and deleting Instagram/social media was a real thing. But did I stay off Instagram for two a half months straight? No.

On New Years Eve, in the packed crowd at Matt Corby after too many vodka OJs, I turned to my friends:

“Maybe i should re-download Instagram?” I asked.

“Yes! Do it! I miss seeing your posts,” Amber beamed back.

I was worried. I knew how much better my life had become and I didn’t want that to change. But at the same time, I was four days into my South Island road trip and had so many cool places I wanted to share. But am I just selectively sharing the good times?

I figured having Instagram again would be okay since there was no guy I was trying to catch the attention of and the only motive for sharing my travels was to inspire others.

So I uploaded a few travel pics and it felt nice to get a few messages from friends about them.

But two days later I deleted it again. With my new perspective, it was difficult to scroll through without cringing. I felt sorry for people, particularly influencers, who wasted their time on the app by constantly trying to impress people.

So what now? Frankly, I don’t miss the app, I only miss having the platform to share my photography. The cons outweigh the benefits on this one (are there any benefits?) and with everything I want to achieve in 2019, I simply don’t have time to waste scrolling through the lives of others.

I wouldn’t expect many people to go down the path I have, but while listening to my favourite podcast- The Perfectionism Project by Sam Brown– she mentioned she muted everyone on Instagram who didn’t add value to her life. So if you’re not willing to delete it temporarily or permanently, its good to know there are other options to ensure its not affecting your life in a negative way.

Thank you for reading and if you’ve had a similar experience then I’d love to hear it!

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