I have a somewhat love hate relationship with social media. It has connected me to so many people who I would call genuine friends and it has given me a platform to blog full time, but sometimes it grinds my gears – which is why I decided to QUIT INSTAGRAM!
…for 30 days.
The problem with Instagram
This isn’t just specific to Instagram – all social media is pretty much giving everyone a complex, anxiety, depression and turning us all into addicted zombies who can’t handle ourselves in real social interactions.
But less of that!
That’s not important right?!
Here are a few doosies that might resonate with you.
Your phone has become an additional limb
If you’re anything like me, your phone will feel like an extra limb. You’ll touch it all the time, not only just to check it’s still safely snug in your pocket, but because it is a habit you’ve developed over the years.
The temptation to check Instagram will be an ever-present devil on the shoulder that just won’t go away and you’ll feel naked if you don’t have your phone with you.
How ever will you cope?
No wifi/data = Tension/Stress
Knowing that you can’t access your social media profiles will become a daily stressor whenever you don’t have wifi or data.
Going through a tunnel on a train, driving through somewhere with no signal in the car – these times will often be some of the worst of your life.
You’ll be desperate to check that feed to fill any gap in time and the absence of any form of connection will start giving you anxiety.
Because you spend so much time on Instagram creating a fake persona and acting like the life of the party, you may find that in turn, your real life confidence takes a big hit.
When you become so accustomed to all of your social interactions being through a platform on your phone, you might end up struggling to cope in face-to-face situations.
Social occasions become a worry and you’ll resent the fact that you can’t hide behind a profile. There are so many case studies out there to back this one up.
You’ll never be good enough
This is probably the most cited of the Instagram negative effect culprits.
Everyone posts their very best self – and then some, on Instagram. It’s not real, which we try our best to tell ourselves, but we just can’t help but buy into it.
We’ve got people hiring professional photographers, lighting crews and god knows what else, just to get that perfect shot. Then we look at ourselves in the mirror with our dingy bathroom light for lighting and wonder why we don’t look the same.
Of course we’re not going to be like them. The people that make it big big, or even just big, on Insta are the elite – they’re the 1% of the 1%. They put in thousands of hours of dedication to what they do, they make sacrifices that most of us aren’t willing to make and sometimes, just sometimes, they’re simply born with all the gifts.
To try and compare yourself to someone like that is actually an insult to them. How can we expect to look like a bodybuilder or a swimwear model if we’re not willing to do what they’re willing to do? Steroids, crazily restrictive diets, daily sacrifice – the list goes on.
Instead, we should use these people as inspiration – a ballpark to shoot for (shoot for the moon, land amongst the stars, etc) like older generations would do with celebrities in magazines. They knew that these people were doing crazy things and that they’d never look like them, but they knew they could get close and they knew they could do it in a much safer way.
Except, with Instagram, these people don’t feel like celebrities do they? They feel like you or me, normal almost… This drives the comparisons through the roof and making us feel like we’re simply not good enough.
Nothing gets done
Oftentimes, you’ll wake up in the morning, switch your alarm off and then open up Instagram to scroll for 2 minutes, okay just another minute – okay let’s make it 10…
And before you know it, you’ve spent 45 minutes mindlessly scrolling through everyone and their dog’s feed. Then on your lunch break (and probably even during work hours you sly dog, you) you’ll hammer out another hour of scrolling, messaging and liking. And after work? Well that’s about 6 hours of prime scrolling time right there isn’t it?!
You’ll knock out another few hours of the good stuff until bed.
We didn’t think about bed.
Wouldn’t a nice little night cap scroll be nice? You know, just to get you off to sleep? Why not ey? Oh wait, you’ve just spent another hour scrolling, you’ve messed up your circadian rhythm with blue light overload, wasted hours and hours of your day that you could have been either fully relaxing to recharge or actually working on something important/bettering yourself.
But no, that cruel mistress has got you in her clutches.
Maybe it’s time to take an Instagram break.
Why I personally decided to quit
As a full time blogger, I thought I had to churn out daily Instagram content, no matter what.
I was putting content out every single day and my likes were beginning decrease, even though my followers were going up through my relentless engagement.
So, what was happening?
Well, my account (and blog) has always and will always be about 3 things – Style, Wellbeing & Culture. I had started to upload things on to my Instagram for the sake of it and whilst they may have been of decent quality, the passion and the ‘on brand-ness’ of them was missing.
And this filtered through to my followers.
I had become obsessed with getting out there for the sake of it. Just to be seen. But I wasn’t enjoying myself. People weren’t enjoying my profile like they used to and it just turned into a bit of a misery going on there.
I decided enough was enough. I needed to quit Instagram.
Cue dramatic music.
What actually happened when I quit?
Not too much really.
Well, none of the bad stuff anyway.
People think that when they quit Instagram, their life will fall apart and no one will know who they are once they get back. Even if that was the case, so what?
If someone forgets about you after 30 days, you clearly weren’t exactly a someone in their eyes to begin with were you?
But yeah, back to me – the main man.
Once I quit, I felt immediately liberated. I didn’t have to capture every moment perfectly, I could just enjoy it for what it was. Of course, there were the times where I was desperate to get back on to check up on my pals, do a quick update for my followers and just check that everything was fine and dandy.
I won’t BS you, I missed it. And that’s because I genuinely enjoy Instagram.
But quitting for 30 days really let me realise what it was that I actually missed. I missed the thrill of creating content that I enjoyed, regardless of an upload schedule. I missed messaging people and having a laugh. I even missed making stories on Unfold – the best app ever.
It also made me realise what I didn’t miss – and that I wouldn’t stress about these things again.
I didn’t miss checking my account once every 5 minutes to keep tabs on how my new picture was doing. I didn’t miss stressing that I should be replying to messages and comments right away. And I certainly didn’t miss trying to beat the algorithm by any means possible.
I guess taking the decision to go on a mini Instagram detox has elucidated the good and the bad, giving me the knowledge to use the platform to it’s full potential, falling prey to its pitfalls less often.
Would I recommend an Instagram hiatus?
Taking these 30 days off has been a big step for me as someone who has been absolutely laser-focused on growing my presence over the last 18 months.
Taking that decision to quit Instagram, albeit for a relatively short period of time, has given me a new impetus to grow, engage and all that good stuff, but it has shown me that it also isn’t the be all and end all.
Are there any benefits to quitting?
An absolute heap of benefits my good sir/madam/humanoid.
Savour the moment
I’m cringing as I write this as it is such a cliched point to make, but I’m going to make it anyway goddammit.
When you’re not so caught up in trying to capture that perfect shot of the moment, you can fully immerse yourself in whatever it is you’re doing without thinking in the back of your mind about which angle it would be best to capture it from.
Comparisons are gone
When you take away the source of comparisons, you stop them dead in their tracks.
Now all you’ll be doing is comparing to others in real life which isn’t nearly as damaging as doing it online. The majority of people are cripplingly normal, so you shouldn’t feel as terrible about your self-image as before.
You’ll get more done
You won’t get the false sense of accomplishment that comes with sharing your goals and ambition online. Once you quit Instagram, you won’t get the false positive feedback from strangers online which makes you feel like you’ve actually done something when in fact, you haven’t done anything.
By taking a step back from the social media circus, you’ll be able to get your head down and work on all the projects that you should be doing without people making you feel like you’ve completed it long before you actually have.
Real life becomes the priority
You might start to feel a little bit lonely once you shut off the unbelievably loud community that is Instagram. You will no longer have the illusion of interconnectedness that you once did with that lovely app powered up.
You’ll realise that in real life, you probably see your friends much, much less than you used to.
Then you’ll realise that real life is where it’s at, making it the priority.
You’ll begin to make more plans to do stuff and it’ll be the best decision of your life, because you’ll reconnect – properly, with your pals again.
Bonus: You can feel morally superior to everyone
You can write articles like this preaching the benefits of eschewing the gram which inflates your ego to new, never-seen-before levels.
You can also tell everyone you know that you’re on an Insta Detox™ and rub your smugness all up in their faces.
I kid, but you will feel slightly better than everyone else.
How to quit Instagram easily
The easiest way to quit Instagram for your experiment is pretty complex, but I’ll walk you through it.
Take your phone out of your pocket
Oh, you were already on it? Okay.
Hold your thumb down on the Instagram icon until it starts wobbling about.
*Designated crying and existential crisis time*
Yes, yes. I know that for some it “JUST ISN’T AS EASY AS THAT!”. Except it is. The only reason you think it’s not that easy is because you’ve put barriers up to justify not quitting for a bit.
Everything is going to be there after 30 days. All your pals, most of your followers, any messages, anything worthwhile will all still be there.
Don’t stress too much. It’s the classic bandaid (plaster for my UK brethren) metaphor. Just get it over and done with straight away and it’ll lessen the blow than trying to gradually phase it out.
More actionable steps going forward
Not everyone is going to read this and try to quit Instagram, no matter for what period of time.
I get it.
But, you can try to cut down your time and still reap some benefits. In fact, this is what I have settled on myself since coming back into the fray.
Put your phone away
Just put your phone somewhere where it’s annoying to get to.
If you want to concentrate on your work for a while, go and stick your phone in your car, in your garage, in the attic, even just another room in a drawer inside a load of clothes.
That way, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be too lazy to navigate these self-imposed barriers and you’ll just get on with what you need to do.
Swap Instagram to an iPad
Just download Instagram to your iPad and get rid of the app on your phone. This is another way of putting a barrier between you and Insta.
The act of searching, downloading and signing back into the app is too much of a process for a lot of us, meaning we can catch ourselves during the twitch to go and scroll our feed.
Don’t take your phone out with you – buy a burner
If you don’t want to even give yourself the chance to go on Instagram, a great way to go about it is to buy yourself a burner phone.
This way, whenever you go out, you can leave your smart phone at home but you’ll never have to miss a call or text if it’s important.
I talk about this at length in my article on why I traded my iPhone X in for a £7 Alcatel.
Quit Instagram for good
If you absolutely loved your break, why not quit Instagram for good?
For those looking to go completely off grid and live their best life away from the prying eyes of social media, why not?
Could be worth a shot.
Hopefully this has shed some light on the Instagram scene for you and given you some food for thought. Personally, I don’t think it’s that bad if you use it right – but it’s all too easy to use it so very wrong.
Follow me on Instagram – I’m back 😉