I had the same three Instagram accounts for five years: a main, a finsta, and an ultra-top-secret-finsta. I would check all of my accounts multiple times every day and spend hours scrolling mindlessly on the explore page. My relationship with the social media site was definitely love-hate, and a couple of weeks ago I spontaneously chose to delete all three of my accounts. I realized Instagram’s ubiquitous presence in my life was causing me more stress than joy. Albeit it in the midst of a mental breakdown, choosing to delete my accounts has been an interesting experience.
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Things I liked and miss about Instagram:
Sharing my life
- I loved having a platform where I could tell people about what I was doing or thinking, or just share something that I thought was funny.
- Honestly, there’s a lot of tea that goes down on Instagram. There have been plenty of times when my friends have mentioned the post of someone we know and I haven’t been able to join in on the gossip or ‘analysis’ of the post.
- Every now and then it was nice to scroll all the way down to posts from years ago. Me as a freshman in high school was admittedly cringey, but it was still nice to look back and reminisce on what I was doing, who I hung out with, and what memes I deemed worthy of sharing.
- One of my favorite parts of Instagram was being able stay updated on pop culture, celebrities, and news. Though not always a reputable source, my feed and explore pages were always nice to browse or reference in a debate about which Kardashian is the most famous.
- Yes, I followed those accounts that would just post screenshots of tweets. What can I say, they’re hilarious.
Things I don’t miss about Instagram:
- There is a gross amount of both implicit and explicit advertising on Instagram. The ads in your feed are concerningly relevant to the rest of my life (hello, I was just having a conversation about this thing I’m seeing an ad for?), and every influencer and celebrity seems to have more sponsored posts then legitimate content.
Wasting my time
- I spent an average of 90 minutes per day on Instagram, just mindlessly scrolling. I would fall down an ASMR rabbit hole or find myself stalking the frat brother of the boyfriend of a girl who was two grades above me in high school. Such a poor use of my time. Imagine how many sudoku I puzzles I could’ve completed in the time I wasted on Instagram!
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Comparing myself to others
- Viewing other peoples’ profiles and seeing what everyone is up to can be fun and informative (tea), but it is so easy to get lost in the images that people cultivate for themselves. I’ll end up feeling lame because I compare myself to someone not relevant to me at all (like the girl who I went to high school with with the boyfriend in the frat), and then my self esteem will take a hit even though nothing in the real world has prompted it.
Not being present
- It’s not uncommon to want to do things just for the sake of taking pictures, or instead of enjoying the moment you’re brainstorming captions. Posing, shooting, filtering, captioning, curating — it’s all so much work to create a false image of yourself. Without Instagram, I can truly enjoy experiences as they come without worrying about repackaging them for others to enjoy.
Instagram definitely has its merits, but taking a hiatus from it has given me perspective on the toxic role it played in my life. It can be fun, but it’s easy to get too wrapped up in it and devote way too much time and energy into it. Maybe I’ll probably recreate my account at some point, but for now this feels nice and refreshing.