What I Learned After Deleting Instagram
The app harmed my mental and emotional health — so I had to let it go
I joined Instagram during the eve of its popularity many years ago.
The years of activity I had on the platform gave me a break from the world when it felt like too much. And boy, did it give me the distractions I needed.
I became enamored with the pictures my friends were posting, funny videos, and celeb videos I couldn’t watch on YouTube. It felt like the perfect escape.
Years of normal usage of posting selfies and pictures of nature, my cats, and my adventures manifested in a desire to achieve more. And when I discovered Instapoetry in September of 2018, things took a turn for the worst.
I wanted to do anything and everything to get my poetry the attention I thought it deserved (even though I knew I wasn’t entitled to anything, no matter how hard I worked).
I spent hours and hours researching Instagram strategies, studying other popular Instapoet’s feeds and branding, researching the best hashtags to use, and scheduling weeks’ worth of content ahead of time so that I could spend more free time engaging with other like-minded poets and writers.
I vowed to have a respectable aesthetic my followers would love.
But when that didn’t happen, I became resentful. My likes never reached more than 100. I hardly got any comments. My Stories very rarely achieved more than 150 views.
No matter what I was doing, nothing was working.
I started wondering if it was even worth it.
“You’re not going to be as big as the real poets of Instagram. Just stop trying. Why are you putting so much time and effort into something that’s not helping you?” These were valid questions I was asking myself but chose to ignore.
I stopped catering to the Instagram algorithm. Instead, I just posted whenever I wanted.
In exchange for not caring so much about my Instapoetry getting a large audience, I instead focused on what other people were doing.
And I paid the price for it.
I knew spending so much time on Instagram was drastically affecting my mental and emotional health — I just didn’t feel like quitting. I wanted to see what certain people were up to, who liked who’s picture, who was following who, and watching the same videos I saved repeatedly.
It was making me waste away.
But I knew I needed to officially delete Instagram when I lashed out at a girl my husband is friends with.
I saw that she posted that she and him were hanging out with another person, but it enraged me seeing him with another woman. I was so distraught, I wrote a nasty poem about her and posted it on Instagram in hopes she would notice it and react to it.
And she did. My husband did. It was a mess.
A lot of unnecessary drama came out of it. It hurt two people who didn’t deserve it.
I realized just how compulsive I was to my emotions. To lash out at someone so horribly without knowing the full story made me so disgusted with myself.
After that drama, I knew I needed to delete Instagram for good. And I learned four very important lessons from it.
I Don’t Miss It at All.
When I finally bit the bullet and deleted my Instagram, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I knew I wanted to delete it. I just didn’t know when I was going to.
I knew it was hurting me, but a part of me didn’t really care. I liked that pain. I liked the distraction the platform was giving me. But when I screenshotted the pictures I wanted and hit that delete button, I felt like I could breathe again.
It Wasn’t Benefitting Me in Any Way.
It wasn’t benefitting my writing. It wasn’t benefitting my mental and emotional health. It was as if I was leveraging Instagram to cyber-stalk people and get angry about it.
If a social platform isn’t giving back your time investment, it’s not worth it.
It Was Damaging My Relationships.
The number one reason I finally deleted Instagram was that my reactions to the platform were starting to damage my relationships.
Not only that, but it made me see all of these toxic traits I had through critical self-reflection.
I’m compulsive when it comes to my emotions, depend on social media too much, start unnecessary drama when I get upset, can be very passive-aggressive when I don’t like something, aggressive in general when I’m communicating what makes me upset, and I have childish tendencies that I have trouble admitting to.
Understanding these toxic traits about myself opened my eyes to change and getting rid of Instagram was one of the ways to do that.
It Was Wasting My Time.
According to the Instagram app when I had it, I was averaging three hours a day, compared to many influencers who depend on Instagram for advertising and engagement purposes.
But compared to normal people? That’s awful.
When I was using Instagram to promote my poetry, I wasn’t even bothering with interactions anymore. I didn’t care about going out of my way to comment on other poets’ works without getting anything back. I did at first, but when I wasn’t interacting with others, I was binge-watching the same funny videos I saved over and over and over again.
Those three hours I wasted on Instagram every day could have been spent writing more Medium articles and focusing on the social platforms that were actually giving me a valuable ROI (return on investment. In this instance, time is my investment.)
According to Jenni Gritters,
“Compared to other social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, Instagram appears to be more taxing on our brains, especially when it comes to the ways we compare ourselves to everyone else while using it. The new study also found that the more time people reported spending on Instagram, the more anxious and depressed they felt.”
As a young woman with generalized anxiety disorder, Instagram was slowly worsening my anxiety. And I didn’t realize it until it was too late and people got hurt.
So if you think Instagram is negatively affecting you in any way, let it go.