This had been a long time coming.
10 days ago, I removed the Instagram app from my phone. This wasn’t anything new, to be honest. I’d done these kind of detoxes multiple times before.
Removing the app every weekend was one habit I developed to break the need for me to check it.
Then, I went cold turkey for a week in June. That helped me reset my priorities in the mental space when it came to distraction.
For the longest time, these mini breaks helped. But something was missing.
Meaning, every time I removed the app, there was a part of my brain that waited for the date when I could add it back to the phone.
It was almost as if my ego was going to get that naive satisfaction of proclaiming to the world that ‘I’d done it! 7 days without the app.’
All of that changed a week and a half ago.
On the 15th of July, I just hit the uninstall button and removed it, after telling myself that this would be a 6-month break from using the app.
A few reasons gave rise to this decision.
Removing the need for validation
It was incredible how much I’d come to rely on that tiny red heart in the notifications tab letting me know I had a new comment, a new ‘like’ or a new Direct message from my contacts.
This, despite turning off all notifications on my phone, was a lure for me to check the app.
Elimination was the only way. So I went ahead and removed it from the phone.
Removing the bait of expectations
In 2001, I went through a very trying phase in my life that deeply affected my mental health. At the time, one of the biggest lessons I learnt was something my spiritual guide told me and that was, ‘You have disappointments, because you have expectations.’
It’s a dictum I keep reminding myself of every time I fall down the rabbit hole of validation. But it came to the core in a full-blown way recently.
On the 15th of July, I posted two seemingly ‘important’ notes in my stories:
A) That I was battling a severe sore throat and was worried for my health (this is during the COVID scare, so naturally a mild case of strep throat is a reason for my impending death, you see!)
B) That I’d finally crossed 4000 followers on the platform
Okay, so this is where it gets ridiculous and melodramatic, so bear with me.
I posted these notes and then waited for a few hours to see if I got any responses or reactions.
Over 100 people saw these notes. (Yes, Instagram very ‘helpfully’ lets you know who sees these stories).
Only 3 people responded to those messages.
3 people out of a 100.
In my mind that instantly translated to, ‘Wow. Only 3 people care about me’.
This is a stupid cause-effect correlation, as you can guess, but at that moment all I could think about was that 97% of people didn’t bother to acknowledge my certain death.
Props if you get this reference 😉
I went to bed feeling very sorry for myself and wallowing in self-pity.
But the next morning I woke up and looked back at the previous night’s saga with both disgust and acceptance.
Dis-engaging with acceptance
What a frivolous way to spend one’s time! That singular incident made me realise what I hadn’t been able to accept for the longest time:
Instagram is not an indicator of a person’s worth.
FOMO is a terrible space to be in and lack of acknowledgement is an even bigger hole we build for ourselves.
As a blogging coach, this helped me on a different level too.
Making more time to write
While I struggled to make time to write earlier, this became a natural part of my routine now. Today is officially day 9 of daily writing on Medium.
Making more time to blog
In this time, I’ve also published two long form posts on my blog.
Making more time to read
Reading is something I deeply enjoy but could never consistently make the time for. I signed up for a Kindle Unlimited Subscription and have completed 3 non-fiction books in one week.
Connecting with my clients
I no longer need the app to connect with potential clients and coaching call students of mine. Since my business page on Facebook integrates with Instagram, I can respond to direct message queries and comments on my posts from within the Business manager tool on the Facebook website. (Again, I haven’t used the Facebook app in 4 years now).
How long will my break last?
At this time it is hard to say, but I believe I have finally broken my dependency on the app. I don’t see myself adding it back even in January 2021.
The Instagram website version on the laptop serves the purpose of connecting me with my clients and I can still post to the grid from my laptop using Buffer.
For now, that is more than sufficient.
It took a seemingly frivolous reason for me to take one of the biggest decisions that has impacted my well-being.
But I don’t judge it.
As they say, everything happens for a reason.
If you’re struggling with app dependency too, I can only recommend that you start with removing the app from your phone for now.
It won’t help right away but over time you’ll find that moment of epiphany when you realize that a tiny icon on your phone doesn’t govern the way you live your life or the place that you hold in this world.
For more posts on mindful productivity and a better relationship with your devices, check out this category on my blog.