The Two-Year Anniversary of my Break-up with Instagram
In November of 2018, I took what feels like an unimaginable step and deleted my Instagram account. At the time, it felt like I had fallen off the face of the Earth and no one would be able to track my existence. Looking back, there are no regrets or hard feelings. It was fun while it lasted, and all good things must come to an end.
You may be wondering why I decided to disconnect from the very busy world of Instagram. At the time, I was in my second year, it was the week before reading week, and I had procrastinated as much as I possibly could. I had two papers, two midterms, and a huge assignment due all in the same week. On top of all that, I still had to tend to my existing responsibilities such as work, weekly school assignments, and obligations to my family. The light at the end of the tunnel was getting darker. After I read a motivational quote (on Instagram, ironically) stating “The greatest amount of time wasted is time spent not starting,” I took 30 seconds to reflect and deleted my Instagram account permanently. I had plans to create a new account after my hell week, but I just never did and haven’t since. I’m not saying that Instagram is terrible and no one should use it. It obviously has its perks, but it was a choice I made for me. Here is what I have learned and gained since deleting my Instagram:
I Became More Confident and Had Less Social Anxiety
Like most people, when I was at social events where I didn’t really know a whole lot of people, I would pull out my phone to avoid eye contact, talking to others, and try to avoid looking like a “loser” because I was alone and had nothing to do. I would try to look “busy” on my phone waiting for time to pass. I didn’t have any games on my phone. I never had a Facebook or Twitter accounts. The only other social media I had was Snapchat, but I never was really active on it. All I really had was Instagram and that’s what I would go on to avoid human contact and, more importantly, awkward conversations. After deleting Instagram, I had no choice but to socialize with others and that really built up my confidence. I learned to actually approach people and have nice conversations instead of just sitting at events on my phone because, without Instagram, all I would really be looking at was my home screen. It relaxed the social anxieties that I had because I was forced to engage with others.
I Became More Productive
Losing the biggest distraction on my phone worked wonders in terms of making me more productive. I get distracted very easily and not having much to look at on my phone — and, more specifically, having nothing to endlessly scroll on — made me more productive. Reflecting on it now, I really didn’t have a healthy relationship with Instagram in terms of it being a distraction. After deleting it, the times I would get distracted would be a lot shorter because I wasn’t scrolling endlessly. With this extra time, I procrastinated less and I found myself finishing my daily tasks quicker because there was nothing slowing me down. I really had to be careful that I didn’t fill the void of time that Instagram gave me with something just as unproductive for me. I noticed myself watching more YouTube videos and Netflix. Before I got too carried away, I had to limit myself. In the end, I learned that building a healthy relationship with our devices will avoid us from using them as vices.
I Escaped My Echo Chamber
Over the years, social media has become increasingly more politicized. I didn’t realize how careful/intentional you needed to really be with the accounts you follow and the posts you see. This wasn’t a reason why I deleted Instagram, but it was something I had reflected on after the fact. I really didn’t see how much Instagram had shaped my opinions, beliefs, and what I take as fact. Too many times I’ve seen conspiracy theories that simply were not true, a post about politics from unverified sources, and people going on forever about baseless arguments. I underestimated the power of language and how information is presented to us and it helped me escape my echo chamber.
I Stopped Caring About What Others Think
I don’t want to sound abrasive but I don’t care what others think of me. I think this has partly been because I have matured over the years, but also not having standards to compare myself to. It is really easy to fall into what is trending on Instagram and there were times that I didn’t feel like I was all the way with it. For example, I was never one to really party often, but after seeing parties on Instagram it made me wonder if I was missing anything or if it was “uncool” to not participate. After deleting it, I noticed myself being more confident and decisive. Also, because I had escaped my echo chamber, I form my own opinions without fear of consequence.
To clarify, I don’t hate Instagram. It’s an amazing tool to connect with people, stay up to date with the latest trends, market your business, or just de-stress, but because I had not developed a healthy enough relationship, it ended up being more of a problem in my life than a solution. My friends ask me if I ever do have plans of re-making an Instagram and I really don’t know the answer. I usually say yes but I don’t have it on my radar at the moment.