Many teenagers would not hesitate to say that social media is an essential part of their lives. More specifically, Instagram is necessary for staying up to date and connecting with others who one may not be close with in real life. However, after spending a week without Instagram, I observed that my relationships with those around me did not suffer. Furthermore, I did not feel a significant loss without being able to connect to the people I normally keep up with on Instagram.
While the accessibility of the app was nice to have when I wanted to find a quick source of entertainment, I found that without it, I was able to put my phone down and solve my boredom with more productive activities. These included completing homework earlier, cleaning and creating art, which I hadn’t been able to make time for previously.
Although the inconvenience of not having the app at my fingertips to provide me with entertainment was irritating at times, the biggest issue that I encountered was breaking the habit of going from app to app mindlessly and using it to find random pieces of information. I did not realize how often I would open Instagram to either pull up a reference picture during a conversation or check my direct messages for a cute animal video from my mom.
The small gratifications that the app provided me felt insignificant and unnecessary as I continued to exclude it from my day-to-day routine. There were very few times when I wished to spend my leisure time on Instagram. The only time that I wished I could have access to Instagram was on a friend’s birthday because I find joy in using social media as one of many ways to show my appreciation for my friends. Instead, I found more creative ways to show my thankfulness by creating homemade gifts and personal letters.
Another benefit of removing the app was that I did not find myself becoming unduly curious about the often picture perfect lives of the people I follow. Although I am aware Instagram does not always provide an accurate representation of one’s life and well-being, prior to removing the app, I found myself being overly interested in people’s social media portrayals—whether accurate or not.
At the beginning of my week without Instagram, I would still find myself being curious about those I follow and caught myself looking blankly at my screen, deep in comparative thought about their lives versus my own.
Yet, after only a couple of days, I became less concerned with checking up on the selective depictions of those around me. I found myself more at ease with my own lifestyle since I was not comparing myself to people’s idealistic portrayals of themselves on Instagram.
Despite the fact that I went into the week claiming that I did not use Instagram often and therefore would have no issue without it, the self awareness I gained about my usage of the app and the amount of time that I mindlessly scroll through my feed to avoid real tasks was eye opening.
After this one week experience, I will be challenging myself to either set a time limit on Instagram or keep the app removed for as long as I can so that I can be more productive and reduce my tendencies to draw comparisons between myself and those pictured on my feed.