While this article is definitely about one of the biggest first world problems there is, I just wanted to share my experience with one of the most popular social media sites that exist today. Even though deleting Instagram may not sound like the most rejuvenating, soul-awakening experience, to me, it actually was, and I’ll explain why. Here is a breakdown of my timeline with Insta – from when I got it, to when I had it, to when I decided to let it go.
Disclaimer: I don’t mean to shade the app itself or anyone that uses Instagram. I think social media can be a great tool and is an effective way with connecting with others. The purpose of this is to share my personal experience with Instagram as well as provoke the thought, how much of our lives has social media consumed? Take everything I say with a grain of salt.
December 2014: I made my first Instagram with two of my friends. This was when the app really started to gain traction among people my age (high school freshman). Many people in my age group started their Instagrams during early middle school, but high school was when everyone’s pages started to get “serious”. Posting “artsy” pictures of food at fancy restaurants, taking candid pictures with friends in gardens or some other beautiful place, and documenting exquisite travels to Italy and Costa Rica were becoming the norm. And don’t forget, with every beautiful-looking photo comes a brilliant quote, pun, or funny phrase for the caption. To top it off, the people involved in the masterpiece post would be tagged, and the location was put on display. This, we learned, was the concoction to the “perfect” Instagram post.
December 2015: My sophomore year of high school was when I really started getting absorbed into this alternate, digital form of the universe. Going to places with my friends was not complete if we didn’t have an entire photoshoot afterward dedicated to our Instagrams. All of our followers just HAD to see what we were eating for dinner, how nice we dressed up, and just how close and happy we all were. After all, what was the point of even going out if we didn’t show it off to random people that we don’t really care much about? Receiving likes and comments on my posts gave me a kind of satisfaction I never really got from anything else. I was getting validation from hundreds of people, all of them indicating that they liked whatever I posted. I felt important, felt acknowledged, and felt like I belonged. As I gained new followers, I got more and more likes on my photos and it made me feel more accomplished. This obsession with numbers escalated, as I was seeking for the numbers of followers and likes to grow. I felt like Instagram was one of the only ways that I could have control over my life, and I wanted my feed to be just like what everyone else wanted- a perfectly curated highlight reel of the happiest moments in life.
December 2016: This was when Instagram stories was introduced. Just like Snapchat stories, now, we were able to display where we were and what were doing in real time. It was absolutely essential for people to show what they were eating for breakfast, show themselves getting ready for school, and documenting more private information in real time. At this point, I found myself truly missing out on life’s greatest moments all because I wanted to get a good Instagram story. I would stop enjoying watching fireworks through my own eyes, and instead I would watch them through my phone screen as I videotaped for my Instagram. I would take boomerang videos left and right, all of them capturing how much fun I was having. I would check who viewed my story instead of spending quality, personal time with the people I was with in the first place. And this happened almost all the time.
May 2019: Fast forward a couple of years, I decided that after all this time, maybe Instagram just wasn’t for me anymore. I was so absorbed into this digital space that whenever I wanted to take a photo, I started planning captions in my mind. I started to post at times when I knew I would get the most likes. But at the end of the day, why does any of that even matter? I want moments for myself. I want memories and experiences and good times, not likes and comments from people that I barely even know. I want to travel the world and experience life through my own eyes, not behind a screen where a few hundred people are watching. I don’t need to keep seeing heavily edited, filtered, PhotoShopped, and Facetuned images of celebrities with their chiseled abs and perfect faces. It’s great that people enjoy their lives with their beautiful friends at beautiful beaches in Mykonos or Ibiza, but it’s not something that I want to see. I want to experience these things for myself, and I want to keep these experiences for myself, not broadcast it to the entire world.
So, I finally went ahead and deleted my account. Needless to say, I feel so refreshed and it feels like a weight has been off of my shoulders. I started having more personal conversations with everyone I spent time with, instead of pretending like I didn’t know what they were up to already. Going to new places felt real again. There wasn’t any pressure to broadcast what I was doing to the world anymore. Life just started feeling like what it should be. I encourage anyone with a social media addiction, or anyone who finds themselves unhappy with Instagram to take the brave step in deleting it altogether. You might find yourself finding the things in life that truly matter to you.