I quit Instagram for 30 days and this is what happened

I’m addicted to Instagram. It’s kind of embarrassing because some people may think it’s not a real thing to get addicted to. I mean it’s an app for Pete’s sake, but here we are folks. And if you’re reading this because you are probably pondering if you are addicted to it too, it’s ok. This is a safe space to reflect on your story.

I started Instagram around 2012-2013 and like most social media apps at the time I was really just trying to connect with friends and family, sharing a picture here and there, words of encouragement click, click and done. With the rise of likes, followings and money, social media has become way more than just an online diary. It’s a business, my business, your business. I start my day going through stories, my own (as if I can’t remember what happened last night), then the people I follow. Some I skip through and others I hold and analyze. I’ll scroll through my timeline, like a few pictures, and comment on a few things. I spend a life time on the explore page, mostly on beauty and fashion and then I go to the ShadeRoom for a few laughs.

It didn’t really seem like a problem until Apple introduced the screen time analytics. That was a sobering moment. On average I would spend over 8 hours a day on my phone and honestly I wish it was because I was going through email or watching Netflix but unfortunately a lot of it is spent scrolling mindlessly through Instagram. A few weeks ago I was going through the throes of anxiety and I just decided to get off Instagram. I disabled the app on a desktop, because most times when I just delete the app off my phone, I find myself bored AF and then I restore the app, zero self control. With it being disabled, I’d have to go back to a desktop and reactivate and that kind of effort is usually a deterrent.

So there I was Instagramless and a little terrified at the prospect of not having something filling the void. When I get home, I normally go on the app whilst I make dinner. Now I had nothing but my food and time. I started to realize just how much time I actually had. Do you know how much you can accomplish in an extra 5 hours a day? It’s amazing. I started to write again, to think creatively again. I listened to audiobooks and watched documentaries on topics I cared about. My attention span started to increase and I found myself having the patience to read articles instead of headlines. I had a hard look at my finances and made important decisions there too. It’s like I gave my life back to myself. Even though I was wondering what everyone else was doing on Instagram, I started to care less and less as my own life started to consume me.

Being Instagramless also made me face my demons. I guess on a deeper level I used it to avoid the serious conversation I needed to have with myself. With all this time I really took extra care to examine my thoughts, my environment and where I was mentally. Without judgment I’ve been able to understand myself a lot more because I didn’t have anything distracting me. I had little outside influence on what I wanted to do. I didn’t feel motivated to go to places that would be Instragramable and I stopped thinking in captions (that’s a real thing you guys). I was free to stay in a moment and live my life entirely for me.

Now I’m back on and it’s hard to sometimes. There are days when I genuinely don’t care but when I’m going through some difficulty then I use it as a crutch again. It’s a hard process to poke in your head for a few seconds of the day and then continue with life. I know other people may think “just delete it altogether” but I’ll just replace it with yet another app.I I just need to keep reminding myself that these are simply highlight reels. It’s not real life. The exciting stuff is happening out there, away from my screen. When your phone is in your pocket you start to see how many people have their chins down looking at their screens. There is no one to talk to and it’s quite sad. But anyway I’m not perfect, this weekend I spent a lot of time on social media so my issues are not fixed because 30 days, 6 months or even a year is not enough. When you realize that the real enemy is how you’re trying to avoid yourself and the things you need to get done then your phone will stop being a problem.

I’m just glad that I did it and I survived, because it was touch and go a few times. It gave me perspective and it made me desire other things that are way more precious. So if you’re thinking about it, try it and maybe you’ll love how this process can change your life.