It’s not you, it’s me: My breakup with Instagram | Social Media
It has not been perfect, and I occasionally miss my ex, but overall my breakup with Instagram has been a positive change
Just like any breakup, it went from smooth sailing to rough waters almost instantly. I had been loyal every day; a loving, engaged and active boyfriend. Then I wasn’t.
There is not “somebody else”, because, and who are we kidding, I am breaking up with a girl who was already out of my league. Only the male ego could convince me that leaving one catch for another was even feasible.
No, this is me finding myself; embracing the bleak desert of loneliness and despair to, hopefully, find redemption on the other side.
In this relationship, I am blowing up my life to teach idealistic twenty-somethings how to surf while simultaneously fasting before dropping LSD in anticipation of wandering in the desert for three days.
Like most breakups, this existential crisis came out of nowhere and was borne out of an entirely unremarkable moment.
I had just finished a meeting and was sitting in a taxi on the way to the office. My brain was engaged in the dull-hum that often accompanies exhaustion. I had begun to mindlessly scroll through Instagram.
When I say mindlessly, I mean it in the most literal of senses. None of the pictures were registering, my fingers were subconsciously swiping and I never paused to even take note of the profile.
Eventually, I “came to”, which was the equivalent of waking up after not realising you have fallen asleep.
It is impossible to describe the level of disgust I had with myself — it was worse than going home after a long night of drinking only to wake up covered in potato chips, M&Ms, melted ice cream and the residue of half-a-bottle of Sprite.
This was the wake-up-call.
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I did not delete my account, and I still check up with my Instagram on desktop every now and then. I did not announce my departure and I really only bring it up if people ask (or if I am brainstorming for unique content for Tech News). For the curious, they will see that my last post was on September 24.
I told myself I would force the self-imposed ban for the month of October. Then, October ended, and I didn’t really want to go back, so I didn’t. I would bet that at some point my decision will change, but at this moment I do not see myself returning to Instagram in the near future.
So what happened?
First and foremost, my mood improved. We read articles all of the time about how social media leads to depression, but rarely do people internalise the studies and change their behaviour.
My personal theory as to why Instagram caused me so much anxiety is because it was my only social network comprised of people I consider to be my close friends or family.
This is not to offend people in my other networks, but, for example, my Facebook is 100 per cent work. If someone were to analyse my posts, they would realise I rarely say anything interesting, share personal stories or post photos. That is all by design. I have never met about 80 per cent of my Facebook friends and there is yet another 10 per cent where the relationship has never passed the initial handshake.
The result is I don’t particularly care about the opinions from my Facebook friends so it doesn’t impact my mood. I barely know anyone and typically have more interaction with the neighbourhood 7/11 employee than my Facebook community.
Twitter is a cesspool of randomness, hate, giphys and breaking news. So, it’s basically impossible to take anything there seriously. LinkedIn is a glorified resume and Snapchat doesn’t have the network effect for millennials in Asia.
Instagram had become the platform that caused me FOMO, made me angry, sad or self-conscious. It comprises of people I care about, so if they posted something problematic it impacted me far more than some weirdly-racist Twitter troll.
When I deleted the app, I was leaning into the notion that ‘ignorance is bliss’ and thus far it seems to be working.
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The second observation is I find myself mourning a lost “instagrammable moment” only to promptly forget about it 15 minutes later.
Whether I am at a concert, watching a sunset or seeing something funny on the street, I do wish I could post it and share with my friends. The feeling is similar to a cigarette craving; it is strong, it dominates the mind and it feels urgent. But, then it passes and while there is some short-term pain, the overall result is a net-positive.
Much like a painful breakup, it has not been a cold turkey experience.
I occasionally “check in with my ex” or hover over that download button in the app store. I genuinely miss memes and I feel like some of my photography is languishing in my Dropbox.
So far, I have not gone full drunk-texting but I am sure that is inevitable. I imagine I will find myself in a vulnerable state, only to wake up the next morning with hazy memories and a “new app” on my home screen.
But as long as I am not too hard on myself, I think it is OK. On the road to redemption we all fall off the wagon, but as long as we get back on the saddle it is not the end of the world.
Instagram is not inherently evil, but for people who are looking for a small change to improve their lives, deleting Instagram is a good place to start.
Photo by Gian Cescon on Unsplash
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