BREAKING NEWS: Grace and Instagram Break Off Their 8 Year Relationship

During this unprecedented time of quarantine due to the coronavirus outbreak around the world, college students are more physically disconnected than ever. Many students, myself included, have begun turning to social media outlets like Instagram to maintain strong connections with our friends, family, and school even while we are all apart. Instagram also serves as a platform for positivity by providing loads of memes and videos to lift our spirits and photo chains to spread body positivity during this otherwise dark time.


Why, then, with all the benefits of Instagram during this period social isolation, do I feel more anxiety about it than ever?


As someone who deals with social anxiety (and probably some generalized anxiety, lets be honest), social media has always been something that I both love and hate at the same time. It allows me to make virtual connections with friends, family, and celebrities without ever having to leave the comfort of my couch. However, at the same time, it makes me feel extremely disconnected from those very same people knowing that I don’t have the confidence, friends, or experiences they have. This is a feeling commonly known as FOMO (fear of missing out) that most of us feel when we open the ‘gram, but I thought maybe it would go away once I grew older, got more confident, or made more friends. 


Ever since I created an Instagram account back in 2012, I have, in fact, grown older and more confident and have made closer friends. So why, then, do I still feel anxiety about using Instagram? Recently, it has been more than just FOMO and my anxiety has festered into something new. 


After I heard the news that my school Denison University was going to move to remote learning for the rest of the semester, I wanted to make a post on Instagram commemorating all the great memories I made this year and all the people I got to spend it with. I was so happy with how this school year went; I made a small but mighty number of close friends, stepped out of my comfort zone more often, and felt happier about my experiences at Denison than ever. However, when I was curating my post, I realized that I only took six pictures with my friends this year, and that I had zero pictures with two of my three closest Denison pals. After I realized this, I started questioning myself with full force. Would my close friends feel hurt that they weren’t included? Would other people think I wasn’t close with those friends? Would the post be ‘fake’ and a misrepresentation of my school year? Would people think it’s weird that I posted the picture I took with Steve Carrell (which was SO cool btw)? What about the funny picture of my friend, would he think that was weird? Why don’t I have any pictures with my closest friends, does that mean we’re not even that close? All of these questions ran through my mind but I convinced myself to make the post anyways. 


I again faced mixed feelings a few days later when participating in an Instagram challenge to promote body positivity by nominating others to post a picture of themselves they feel beautiful in. I was nominated by two of my sweet friends from back home, and while I normally don’t participate in these types of challenges, I thought I would give this one a shot due to the lack of positive media goign around. I picked out a pretty picture of myself and decorated the Instagram story with super cute daisy stickers and I was really happy with how it came out. But then came time to nominate others. I chose to nominate four of my friends along with my sister and typed out all their Instagram handles in a cute font. As I was doing this, I thought: Does it matter what order they go in? Are we close enough for me to nominate them? Will anyone I nominate participate? If they don’t, is it because I overestimated the closeness of our relationship in nominating them for something like this? Again, while all these questions ran through my head before I made this post, I decided to ignore them and post it anyway. 

white iphone on white background with pink notification cards

Of course nothing bad happened after posting any of the pictures and many of my friends and classmates sent me back positive messages. But the rest of the day after I posted the story, I kept thinking about it wondering what other people thought. Do people think it’s weird when girls take part in challenges like that? Do people think selfies are outdated? Why did only one of the people I nominated participate? What do guys think about girls who take part in challenges? Will I be seen as less attractive? Like, literally WHO CARES what boys think, they’re stupid, I told myself. But it didn’t stop me from continuing to worry about the post for the next day or two. 


Since I posted that story, I have not logged back on to Instagram. It’s been about four days now and I’m feeling good. I’ve done Instagram cleanses before and I always feel so much better when I do them, but somehow I always come back to it. I’ve thought several times about deleting my Instagram account to get rid of the temptation but I can’t bring myself to do it out of fear of losing my followers and the pictures of me on my seventh grade volleyball team. 


So, Instagram, however my relationship with you evolves in the future, right now it’s time for us to take a break. And I’m sorry to say, it’s not me, it’s you. You are programmed to make me addicted to you even when I know you are toxic for me, and you constantly present me with an avenue to compare myself with others. While you’ve brought me countless laughs, helped me make connections, and showed me how to put myself out there, I need to create this boundary with you. Your negative energy is toxic and is something I no longer need or want in my life. Maybe if we both take this time to learn and grow and become more secure, we may meet again in the future. But for now, this is goodbye.