I decided to delete Instagram at the beginning of April. This was after admitting to myself I was addicted to scrolling. Addicted. Not hooked, intrigued, or immersed. Just plain ol’ addicted. How did I know I was addicted? Because I desperately did not want to be constantly scrolling on Instagram. But there I was, getting caught in the void, completely forgetting I only picked up my phone to check the weather.
I was fed up. Fed up with spending all my time scrolling. Time that could be spent on more productive things. I had excuse after excuse as to why I felt i needed to be on Instagram but the truth was this: I’d gotten way too comfortable watching other people live their lives. I felt like I just needed to see what so-and-so would post incase it would be something cool or interesting.
I was also constantly comparing my chapter 1 to chapter 20 of the influencers and successful people I followed.
For example, I’d watch someone with over 10 YEARS of experience in gymnastics do walking handstands and would feel jealous because I (someone with ZERO years of gymnastics experience) couldn’t even begin to get into a handstand. And let’s point out that I was jealous because of a 15 second video. A video which I did not see behind the scenes of. I was feeling pretty deflated and behind in life.
And another thing: I had screen times averaging 4 hours (yes, 4 hours) per day so you could only guess my productivity at work and in my personal life tanked. Not to mention the impulses I had to post everything I was doing. Like, who wants to see my Nespresso coffee for a 5th day in a row or yet another boomerang of my afternoon walk? It was getting really old.
I was done with being a slave to a social media application. But how the heck was I going to break my addiction? Well, cold turkey of course.
So what did I do?
I deleted Instagram off my phone. In the past when I wanted to break my addiction to scrolling, I would just move the app to a different folder. Well, let me tell a little something about the brain: it learns and adapts quick! I found I was going into the depths of folders on my phone to get to Instagram without even realizing it! Kind of like how you end up in your driveway after a 45 minute drive home from work wondering how the heck you got there.
I knew I had to quit cold turkey, or I would run the risk of relapsing. So, I first signed out of Instagram and then I deleted it.
And what happened?
Great things! But not so fast. At first, about every hour, I was helplessly grabbing my phone to check Instagram only to realize… it was gone! And then, I checked other apps. Like the weather, Amazon Prime, and YouTube. Uh oh…
I found I was checking these apps just to go through the motions of scrolling on my phone. To keep my mind busy. But because you’ve got to be more intentional about the use of those apps, staying on them just to scroll and “see what happens” (like Instagram) is not the best use of them. So, after about a week or so I started to get bored of my phone in general. I started to want to do other things.
And so begins the magic happening…
Here is where the great things started happening.
I started to read more. I finished two books already within this one-month span of time. And I’m halfway through a third book. Usually, it takes me months to read one book because I was always checking Instagram between sentences. But that’s not all. I also started to learn more skills, get outside more, and actually get work done in a timely fashion.
The most noticeable change of all was the sense of clarity and satisfaction I had. I found that I slowed down and was more intentional in what I was doing. After three weeks, I noticed I really didn’t even think about Instagram at all. I did not miss that sneaky little app not one bit. That third week though, I did a thing.
I signed into Instagram from my laptop. Dun dun dun…
For some reason, I thought i was missing out on something so I got curious enough to sign in on my computer (I know, very weird and desperate sounding) and found this: people were literally posting the same things they posted a month ago, 6 months ago, a year ago. I mean, THE SAME THINGS. The morning breakfast/coffee shots, the workouts, the coronavirus updates, heated political article clippings that aren’t vetted, foolish (albeit entertaining) Tik Tok videos, and everything in between.
I did not miss a thing. It actually felt like I never left. And that’s how I knew Instagram did not deserve to take up my time and attention anymore.
So, what happens when you delete Instagram?
Absolutely nothing. The hamster wheel still spins, you’re just not on it anymore. While everyone else is blissfully running in the hamster wheel you’re out of the cage altogether, living your best life.
So, what’s a girl to do? I’ve spent over a month basking in the glory that is not having Instagram taking over my free time. But, I know someday I’ll want to reconnect with my friends in that way again.
The fact is, I need to change my mindset when it comes to Instagram and really every other social media. Social media applications are addicting by design and are made to draw us in for quite possibly forever. I refuse to give them that power. I refuse to let the minutes, hours, days of life melt away while I’m too busy scrolling to notice.
I’m wondering if you could help me out. What are some ways that you’ve changed your mindset around social media that have helped you to disengage whenever you need to? Let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance!