I permanently deleted my Facebook account a couple of months ago. A couple of days ago I did the same with my Instagram accounts. Despite that I live in bustling NYC, I feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway. What are my friends doing? What is Mikaela Shiffrin doing?
As someone who struggles with anxiety, Instagram added another layer to my unease. Despite that I pleaded indifference to the goings on of Instagram, my throat always tightened a bit when I opened the app. I constantly wavered and debated internally: “Should I delete the app and download it once a week, or only look at Instagram from my computer? Does deleting the app signify poor self-control, and shouldn’t I be able to keep the app but only check it once a day? Would turning on notifications limit my time on Instagram? But aren’t notifications narcissistic…why do I need to see who likes my photos or sends me a message?” These internal debates were not only mentally draining, but also took up time I could have spent studying, reading, having a real conversation, thinking about how to make the world a better place, or even making the world a better place. The crazy thing about this is, I know I’m not alone. This is a worldwide addiction covered by the guise that in order to succeed socially and professionally, a solid Instagram following is vital. I want to prove this wrong.
Before quitting, I openly, and often, denounced social media and excessive phone use in conversations with friends; everywhere I go people walk, sit and commute with shoulders hunched over phones, thumbs in motion (good for you, spine surgeons). This not only made me sad and depressed about our future, and that of our kids, but continually more convinced that social, in-person relationships will become increasingly rare.
Rather than just talk about, I decided to follow with action. Not all social media is bad and it has the power to do great good. But for me, I can be a better citizen, friend, sister, daughter, girlfriend without it. Yes, I will continue to take pictures. No, I will not waste my energy coming up with an Instagram caption. Instead, I’ll put my phone away and continue walking down the street, head high, dodging texters.