I'm Breaking Up With Instagram
I think we are all in some universal agreement that this year carried its fair share of hardships, lifestyle changes, heartbreak, and moments that crushed our souls a bit. But in a unique way, it also provided us with considerably precious time to learn and change into more evolved and mature versions of ourselves. With the friends I’ve spoken to, we’ve all agreed that we’ll be leaving this year feeling more like ourselves than ever before. The highly emotional experience this year has been has allowed us to emerge as individuals with new interests, an experimental style we found on Pinterest, and hair we cut over the sink; I’d like to bank on the potential of leaving this historical year in hopeful spirits than linger on events that rack nerves and draw sweat.
It’s been easy to feel powerless, sitting at home, refreshing Google to watch graphs spike and news outlets churn out articles while your brain wrestles the memories of a life you once knew. I recall days that turned into weeks, and then months, that have felt the same, caught in some sort of continuous cycle I had unknowingly stuck to as the things that gave my life structure slowly canceled, shut down, and disappeared.
It feels like this year I’ve been attached to my phone more than ever, though sometimes for good reason. Nonetheless, my screentime has exploded across the board, taking a noticeable toll on the way I live, reaching for my phone right as I wake up and extending my stay in bed as I scroll through Instagram. For an app that is meant to connect people, I feel isolated more than ever. I’ve had it for as long as I’ve had a phone and building loyalty to the thing that makes me feel gross and like I have no friends, and never leaves me feeling better than when I did before I mindlessly stalked every celebrity and influencer that came to mind. I’ve noticed this attachment grow stronger as the days rolled by where I was stuck at home, and last through days where I wasn’t. I’ve never been a popular person, so all my participation has felt to be from the outside looking in, merely observing those I envied while still obsessing over likes that never seemed to be enough. I wince, fully aware of the increasingly unhealthy relationship I have with social media, while still participating in it all the same. Nothing in me has ever seemed to change until recently.
This year, initiating deep changes within me, has also enabled me to come to terms with several deep insecurities I thought I could remedy with a savvy internet presence, up to date on the who-what-when-where, with curated aesthetics of a feed I was scared to mess up. It’s taken a lot of growth to understand I had a problem, finding myself slipping down rabbit holes wondering if I seemed good enough in the perception others had of me. I’ve learned to step back and understand it’s not normal to stress out over my online appearance like the way I did, not be able to have fun at outing until the pictures turned out right, and spend nights refreshing notifications to see there are none.
On the especially turbulent days of this year, I can remember heading straight to social media rather than processing my emotions, using it as some kind of twisted coping mechanism that just extended the ugly feelings I pushed away. It was too much to deal with real life, so I scrolled until my eyes burned and my phone was hot. In moments of self-realization, I wondered if I’d had the same habits in 5 or 10 years, pushing off the day to break the cycle. It’s just not worth it for something so made up to have that control over my life. Nothing should ever have that kind of power over me as Instagram does.
I’ve realized I like the real-life versions of people more than the Instagram ones, and that I’d much rather be “that friend without Instagram” than an obsessive, insecure teenager being warped by the perpetuation of the same toxic cycle that’s held a grip on me since middle school. I want to be released from the shackles of an app on my phone, and relieve myself from the worry about likes, views, comments, unanswered DMs, everything. I want to thrive in 3D, and not just pretend to in a curated facade. Social media is not reality, and it took me this whole year to learn. I’m breaking up with Instagram, and I’m happy about it.
Written By Caroline Goodsell