Scrolling Through Instagram Started to Give Me an Insta-Bad Mood

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I’ve lived in three different states, and while the benefits far outweigh the downsides of having experienced life in various places, there’s one that has followed me since my download of it on the bus home one day in 6th grade: Instagram. Sure, it’s been great to see the glow ups and who’s-dating-who of the people I went to middle school with, but there’s been a glaring negative that I’d never noticed before. 

Girls from Missouri grew up to be living in beautiful sorority homes with a tan I didn’t know was possible, and wardrobes with accessories I couldn’t imagine ever thinking up. Girls from New Jersey grew up to go clubbing all along the East Coast, and visiting each other at their colleges with effortless style. And, most of all, I’m consistently surrounded by Boulder babes who are out every night of the week and achieving every fraternity formal theme with ease.

How do I even know all of this? Instagram. 

Android Phone App Blur Business / Pexels I know, I know. Instagram isn’t all real. Most of those people have their own problems they’ll never show, and many are struggling in ways they won’t post about. Yet it consistently brought me down. And I mean, *consistently*. The scariest part was, I barely even noticed it happening.

You hear often about young women being hurt by social media, inundated with unrealistic body images and exhaustively curating their feeds. I even have several friends who confront their negative relationship with Instagram, and work to negate the harmful effects, but up until recently I didn’t think that was me. I didn’t acknowledge how I’d feel when I’d somehow end up stalking six different sorority girls' feeds, or why the girl from my floor freshman year appeared to be having a better college experience than me. I brushed it all off without realizing how it was infiltrating my life; feeling disappointed with every outfit I wore, upset if I didn’t go out with friends every weekend, or frustrated that I couldn’t get a photo filter right (cause who cares?).

I know the toxicity of my phone. Trust me, I dread the screen time report every week. I set app limits, then I ignore them, and after several hours, a few sororities and lots of accounts later, I. have. to. close. Instagram.

Despite some global resentment of this quarantine, my mindset shifted. I realized, who were these girls I idolized when they didn’t have their parties, formals, and cute outfits to post? They were normal. As a person who’s life highlights reside solely on Linkedin, I knew I was doing both fun and impressive things all year, I just wasn’t posting about them.

This brought me to re-evaluate things I’m involved in. Am I doing them because of their Insta-worthiness? Just to feel that I’m impressing people? To win the admiration of a thousand people who I wouldn’t even consider friends? What actually brings value to my life, and what is just for show? I’m not posting about interviews I’m doing, the new language I’m learning, running almost every day, writing for several national platforms, or reading some great books. I find more value knowing that I’m doing those things for myself, rather than doing it to tell the world of social media. 

A girl looking at herself in the mirror smiling Pexels In order to make time for all those things I enjoy doing for my well-being, not my Instagram followers, I put a heavy restriction on the app and vowed to stick to it. I’m not advocating to delete Instagram altogether, and in fact, I think there’s a healthy amount of social media consumption while staying connected and socially ‘in-the-know.’ But when that hourglass comes up, I hesitate before I click “Ignore Limit for Today.” I know I can spend that time reading another chapter in my book or sitting outside writing, and I know well what brings me more value. 

The temptation of getting ten accounts deep to the point where you don't even know the person you're lurking on anymore is high, I know. If you can control your social media stalking urges, I admire you (and please teach me your ways). While many users can maintain a healthy relationship with their feeds, I'm proud to admit that I can't.