Here's What Happened When I Deleted My Instagram

Until last week, Instagram consumed my life. It was the first thing I looked at when I woke up and the last thing I checked before I went to sleep. Whenever I had a spare second or time to kill or I passed someone on the street I didn’t want to make eye contact with, I would automatically open Instagram and refresh my feed, even if I’d just closed the app seconds before. And even when I wasn’t looking at the app, I was still always looking for Instagram opportunities and was disappointed if I left an event without any good pictures to post. Of course, if there was a good picture, that wasn’t enough—it also needed some editing, a filter, a clever caption... it got to be a lot.

The thing is, I don’t think that’s unusual, and I know a lot of people who obsess over Instagram the same way. And so, after thinking it over, I decided to quit Instagram for a week, just to see if I could.

Day 1 (Saturday):

Deleting the app wasn’t that big of a deal, but only when it was gone did I realize how consuming it actually was. I spent most of the day automatically unlocking my phone, pulling up my social app cluster, and accidentally opening Snapchat, which had moved into the spot where Instagram used to be. I was amazed and kind of alarmed by how unconscious it was.

Day 2 (Sunday):

Today, I only accidentally tried to open the app a couple of times. However, when I was going through pictures from a party last night, I found myself starting to crop and edit the best ones only to realize that I had no Instagram to post to. I was a little disappointed and tried to really think about why. Did I genuinely want to share a cute picture of my friends, or did I just want to prove that I went out and had a good time on a Saturday night?

Day 3 (Monday):

I finally stopped trying to open Instagram, and not surprisingly, I started checking other social media apps more. However, I've realized they have very different vibes from Instagram. On Instagram, everyone’s lives are filtered and cropped to perfection, but on other types of social media, things are more casual. It was actually kind of nice to see people’s lives more candidly (and there was much less FOMO).

Day 4 (Tuesday):

Really, today was just a repeat of yesterday. I wasted a lot of time scrolling slowly through Facebook and Twitter, stopping to read the 10 Best Things About Being From New York and to like the thousandth picture my cousin had posted of her newborn. Still, there was something more authentic about my cousin over-posting baby photos than seeing someone’s ~aRtSy~ dinner picture.

Day 5 (Wednesday):

Today I almost caved. It was my second anniversary with my boyfriend, and about a month ago we took a really good picture I was saving to post today. I didn’t post it, but was annoyed at myself for choosing this week to delete Instagram. However, while sitting with my boyfriend at dinner, I realized that I was probably enjoying myself more than I would have been if I were checking how many likes our picture had gotten.

Day 6  (Thursday):

I finally feel like I’m used to not having an Instagram. All day I found myself taking out my phone to take pictures, but in a completely different way than I used to. I stopped thinking about how many likes a picture would get, or how good it would look objectively, but instead took pictures of things that I would like to look back on. I was trying to create memories for myself, not for how I wanted the world to see me, and I found it really interesting that I couldn’t remember the last time that I'd done that.

Day 7 (Friday):

On the last day of my Instagram-free week I was with a friend and she tried to take a picture with me, but decided it wasn’t quite right. And then she took another one. Aaaaaand another one. Finally she gave up, and decided she didn’t look good enough for an Instagram picture. It was weird and forced, and I was exhausted by the end of the photo shoot. I guess most of the pictures on Instagram are like that—forced and posed to get them just right, even though no one else would know.

Day 8 (Saturday):

Today I’ve officially been Instagram free for a week, and so when a friend from home texted me to check out a picture someone had posted on Instagram, I contemplated downloading the app again. But I thought about it and realized that I’ve been fine without one. This whole week, I haven’t been jealous of anyone’s perfect outfit or body, I didn't have FOMO when I didn’t go out on Friday, and I haven't tried to force my life into a perfect little square to try to keep up with everyone else. Of course, I understand that some people love taking pictures, sharing bits of their lives with followers and getting likes, and that’s totally fine. But for me, that was stressful, and I didn't even realize that until it was gone. I’m not sure I’ll never go back, but right now, I don’t miss it.


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