Instagram and me
The whole thing started when, a couple months ago, my husband half jokingly noted how I never seem to pay attention to any film we watch together. I always assumed I was multitasking but, now that he mentioned it, I could remember often asking what had happened after missing an important scene, or pretending to understand a complicated plot that I had failed to follow as I checked my Instagram feed.
After this incident, I started to notice how often I would mindlessly scroll through Instagram until I was re-reading posts I had already seen the day before. For the first time, I thought about all this time I was spending online and adding nothing to my life.
I decided I had enough and, without second guessing myself, deleted the App off my iPhone.
Here is what happened
We all know we rely on our phones way too much but I was not prepared for how often I would have the urge to reach for my phone only to realise that I didn't have Instagram anymore.
I had never thought about it before - I guess I never had to - but at this point in time I really struggled without Instagram. My mindless distraction that had previously been available at any time, any where, was no longer there.
Like a throwback to my childhood, if I found myself bored I would have to find new ways to entertain myself. I started to use this time to paint my nails, read a book or even start a conversation with the people around me (omg!), instead of being on my phone. I could sit at dinner without looking at my phone and I started changing to airplane mode after bedtime.
I felt so happy and proud; I was enjoying my life and finding all this time I never knew I had. In fact, this was when I started writing up the box method that would later turn into my first post.
I am not here to tell you that social media is terrible and you should delete all your accounts, I think there are many positive aspects to it and I don't think we should demonize our phones. But this experience has made me aware that if I am not careful I may end up wasting my life looking through other people's lives instead of paying attention to my own.
Three weeks into my little experience, I decided it was time to go back. The weird thing is that by this point I felt like I could have continued without it, but one of my best friends was on holiday in New York and I wanted to see her pictures. I was having a little bit of Instagram FOMO and wanted back in.
What I did
In order to go back I knew I had to make a few rules for myself. I wanted to be able to use Instagram in moderation and I definitely did not want to waste how far I had come in the past few weeks.
Up until then, I had used Instagram to consume what others were posting and creating. I would feel so blue because my feed made it seem that everyone was out having a good time while I was at work (even though rationally I know this is not true). Looking back, I think this was making me feel depressed.
If I wanted to use social media, I would have to be creating as much as I would be consuming. So I made a deal with myself where I try to post something at least twice a week. Like a picture from the weekend or even just the view from my window. Because I am contributing, I feel like I am part of the community rather than just an observer with nothing worth ‘sharing’.
When I do post, I allow myself to scroll through my feed and now I am able to enjoy other people’s posts without feeling jealous. I engage with my friends when they share a nice picture and I feel great when they do the same for me. Instead of just taking, I feel like I am giving now as well and this makes me feel good.
For the future
My goal is to establish a time to turn off. I already put my phone on airplane mode as I go to bed every night but I would like to start earlier, for example an hour before bed so that I can relax.
The other thing is that even though I am following my post twice a week rule, I don’t want this to give me an excuse to go back to spending two hours on my phone. I have been good so far but I will try to always be aware so that I don’t end up where I started.