Believe it or not, social media really gets on my tits. If I didn’t use Facebook for my business, you can be sure as hell that I would have deactivated it by now, along with Twitter, Snapchat and everything else that’s hidden away in the ‘Social’ folder on my iPhone.
But Instagram is a completely different beast. Although I have enjoyed posting photos on Instagram for the best part of probably about 3 years, recently I have started to question the reasons why I was using it and the way it was making me feel.
Years ago, I used Instagram to stay motivated to get fit and ‘in shape’ but became obsessed with airbrushed athletes with abs and ended up feeling unworthy of ever looking or feeling like them. It took me a long time to realise that actually, I didn’t want to look or feel like them. This is why I think Instagram (and indeed all social media) can be quite damaging to self esteem.
But more recently, I have found myself using it as an outlet to let off the steam of a failed relationship and some really difficult times. Not to mention trying to stop myself rising to the ‘highlight reel’ of an ex who blocked all of my friends, colleagues and family yet unblocked me (go figure, eh?).
It is… sorry, was… yet another way for me to self sabotage my otherwise healthy recovery from a deep bout of anxiety and depression.
I used to log on first thing in the morning, click on the IG icon several times a day and scroll through the feed of Crossfit athletes, delicious food and business advice that I had subscribed to – knowing full well that it was sucking both my time AND my mental energy. Why is it so addictive!? I know I’m not the only one, in fact, I’ve seen first hand how obsessed people can get with Instagram.
Deleting the app from my phone and deactivating my account last week was the easy part.
Within a day or so, I had stopped automatically reaching to click the IG icon on my phone.
I have questioned the reasons I was using Instagram and the answer has been difficult to swallow. Was I genuinely wanting to share photos of everything I’ve been doing lately, or was it just to prove a point?
The straw that broke the camel’s back for me was probably the fact that once every couple of days, I would click onto my ex’s feed (knowing full well that the posts were made for my benefit) and occasionally it would give me that sinking feeling. I knew it had to stop, and I knew deep down that I truly wasn’t actually interested.
On Instagram, you will see a snapshot of people’s lives. The highlights. Cropped and filtered to ‘perfection’, most of the time to lure you into a false sense of reality, make you feel bad about yourself and question your worthiness.
It’s not real.
Instagram is not real life.
My Instagram showed all the really amazing parts of my life, filtered, cropped and hash-tagged to fuck.
It showed the loving relationships (but not the raging arguments).
It showed the fun nights out (but not the anxiety fuelled, crying matches with myself)
It showed the holidays (but not the disconnection and illness)
It showed the gigs I’ve been to (but not the mental battle that I went through to get to them)
It showed the gorgeous food I eat (but not the sugar, chocolate filled binge fests).
I will now take photographs to create memories to look back on, for myself.
I will use my eyes, not just the lens of my iPhone to capture moments.
I don’t have anything to prove to anybody.
I can be real, honest, authentic and vulnerable without filters and hashtags.
I will show the good, the bad and the ugly with my followers via REAL channels like this blog.
I won’t ever try to fit the highlights of my life into a a 2 inch by 2 inch square for the benefit of other people.
The number of likes I get on photos (of which there will be none now that the app is deleted) does not prove anything to anybody – including myself.
Please don’t be offended by this blog if you like using Instagram – it’s not a dig at you. It’s just an honest account of my experience. If you genuinely use it to store memories – I totally get that. But when I truly questioned myself, I realised that that wasn’t why I was using it.
If you feel like your life might be a bit better without constant comparison to other people’s highlights? Why not challenge yourself to go Instagram-free for a week, and see how you get on?