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I Was Kicked Off Instagram Last Week, And The World Is Suddenly A Wonderful Place

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

As I sat in De Neve two weeks ago eating my pizza and scrolling through my Instagram, I did not expect it to be hacked and held for ransom. My Instagram, that is, not my pizza (I don’t know which would have been worse). But yes, me, a silly goose, clicked on a link someone messaged me. To be fair, they were just asking me for help, and I thought I was being a good person. And yet, the hackers didn’t care if I was a good person or not. Soon enough, my WhatsApp was blowing up with messages from a Nigerian phone number, asking how much I’d pay for my account and demanding I respond immediately.

Now, what did this do to me, besides temporarily ruining De Neve pizza (an extremely temporary thing)? Well, it ruined social media. The stress this situation caused really made me bitter about how little these social media giants care for their users. There was no helpline to call, no message center, nothing. I was being harassed (on WhatsApp! Very humbling), and no help was available. Then I remembered, oh yeah, I’m not the customer when it comes to social media. The customers are the advertisers; I’m the product. They are selling me, my time and my attention.

And that made me feel even worse! So, I decided, then and there: I would not negotiate with the hackers. I would let social media go. That’s correct. After a seven year long relationship with Instagram, I was ready for us to break up.

It’s been about two weeks since the great De Neve destruction of my dignity. And how do I feel? Fantastic. At first, I was reaching for my phone, realizing there was nothing good on there anymore, and then feeling at loose ends with what to do with myself. But as time went on, I adjusted. I found myself sleeping better, reading for recreation more, having random free chunks of time in my day that would usually have been eaten up by mindless scrolling.

In a communications class I took, we had to read the book, How to Break Up with Your Phone by Catherine Price. It told me that extended screen time has detrimental effects on our brains; it messes with our dopamine release, making us constantly on edge and unhappy, it ruins our attention spans, it kills productivity, it can even change your literal brain matter, shrinking the memory center. And although I brushed off this info at the time, now, with my screen time down by almost 90%, I am experiencing all these things firsthand. School work has gotten easier. I care so much less about what others think of me. I just feel much happier, much more present in my life.

Now, I’m not telling you to quit social media or to throw your phone away like Serena van der Woodsen did every time she got a text she didn’t like (niche Gossip Girl reference, I know). There is definitely a way to use it in moderation, and I’m sure I’ll get back to that eventually. But it is essential to remember that screen time is actually quite bad for us. So set those time limits, track that screen usage and do those detoxes every now and then. Our brains weren’t built to be stimulated like this, so give yours a break every now and then, and it’ll reward you with a better mood and a better life.

Maybe someday I’ll come back to social media. I feel like an angry little kid, refusing to use it because it was mean to me. But the benefits are real, and I have never felt better. So, if you get a funny little dm from me, asking you to buy my cryptocurrency, just remember: I don’t have a single idea what cryptocurrency is.

Alyana is a third-year English and philosophy student at UCLA, from Toronto, Canada. She is the Editor in Chief of HC at UCLA. She loves stories in all forms, whether that be watching coming-of-age films, getting lost in a book, or putting on a show. You can also catch her playing team sports and crocheting plants in her free time.