In October I tasked myself with one week off Instagram. Didn’t seem that difficult at first, but I was experiencing some trippy phantom limb pain. The limb was Instagram. The phantom was me disabling and deleting. I spent so much time on Instagram that I wasn’t able to open my phone without checking it. I would open my phone to type a note and instinctually would open Instagram without even realizing it. Same with just simply checking the time. Or checking a text.
Unlock phone. Instagram.
It was getting to be STRANGE.
So I tasked myself with one week, and to my surprise, that one week became a month. I liked it, but I missed it. I missed being a part of group chats, I missed being a part of everyone’s daily lives that they chose to share. I missed random people that I’ve never met, but learned about from a distance, I missed it, so I went back on. And I’m glad I did. I had been thinking about it for so long that I made it up to be so much cooler than it was. The peoples’ stories consisted of personal dramas, a lot of intending drama too. But still, I like that I went back on, because if I hadn’t, I would be sitting here, still thinking about the fantasy world that is Instagram. Become an actor or a singer for 10 seconds, or maybe travel to the opposite end of this earth, or maybe you just have a really cool dog that is your best friend… and just like that… I want THAT. It became this weird, uncomfortable, rigid state of being, minimized by others’ accomplishments. That’s not how it should be. I want to be present in my life, enough, to be able to have a conversation with someone about how they’re about to have a baby and be so over the moon thrilled for her that I scream and cry a little. That’s how real I want my life to be. Instagram deduces us to double tapping for extreme joy, and mundane content. And a written, thought out comment and an emoji if you’re feeling sassy. That’s not enough for me.
Taking a significant amount of time off Instagram, Facebook, and all social media platforms really shifts the reality that we are choosing. Yes, choosing. I’ve heard and seen so many internet people post about the concept of social media making people unhappy, and their solution is to unfollow anyone or anything that doesn’t bring you joy. That’s where it all started for me. But as I started unfollowing by the hundreds, I realized that very few people on the internet have the ability to make me happy. The honest truth, I am the only person who is going to make me happy and allowing myself to tangle my expectations in other people’s experiences, very public experiences, wasn’t making me happy, it was confusing. I wanted so much that other people seemed to have, but even they didn’t have the dream life that they created for them. They have a beautiful snapshot, moments of perfection. I HAVE THOSE TOO! Hello, where was I, in my own life, that I wasn’t seeing the moments of perfection, that maybe aren’t pretty enough to post, but they are real, and powerful, and draw out hysterical laughter and tears of joy.
Getting offline created measurable change. I spoke to my friends less often, but with more honest interaction. I became more focused at work. I read more. I READ BOOKS AGAIN. I spent time outside listening to what the world sounds like and seeing what this world looks like. I watched more sunsets and sunrises. I even started sleeping better, and having more vivid dreams. I made an effort to spend time with the people I love, doing things that I love. PS going to a music show is very different, when you aren’t recording the entire set. I realized that text messages can do everything social media does, but it’s not for the public. It’s for me, and for the few. In short, life became a lot more interesting and way more satisfying.
Jumping back onto Instagram was great. It reminded me of how good that one month was.
I stopped taking pictures, with just an intention to post them.
I stopped organizing my life into boxes.
I stopped trying to one up my last post, and everyone else’s.
I stopped expecting so much of myself, in direct comparison to everyone else’s endeavors.
I stopped feeling judged.
I stopped judging myself.
I’m off Instagram again, maybe a month, maybe longer. Hope I see you in person sometime.