A few weeks ago, I deleted my Instagram account...and it has been great.
However, I understand that this is a bold and somewhat confusing move in today's millennial culture of being plugged in and posting updates all. the. time. I've had several questions regarding the status of my Instagram account; the most prevalent of these questions has been, "Are you ok??"
The answer is a resounding f*&k yes. Although these questions, asked under the presumption that what I've done is concerning and indicative of something amiss in my life, did inspire me to write about my decision to quit Instagram and battle the "consequences" of this loss of social capital.
My decision to delete my IG account was not a rash choice. It was a long time coming. As the years went by and I kept throwing up picture after picture, with trivial captions, the more I felt deadened and not engaged with what I was doing. Sure, my likes and followers increased, but those numbers have not ever mattered much to me (seriously, don't really care).
The disengagement was already growing within me, and then I started looking at the big picture regarding IG. Everyone posts these little snippets of their lives, filtered and angled to perfection, with nominal captions (more likely than not a quote or an artfully strung sequence of emojis)--and people take the images to heart. "That's really the love those two have, wow!" or "She has so much money, her life is so cool." However, images are the classic unreliable narrator.
Take this unreliability of images to show reality and ad to it, well, ads. Instagram is kind of like that episode of South Park where everything ends up being a rabbit-hole of ads. So now you have all these images of "perfect people, perfect lives" that the young or more impressionable among us take to heart as reality, not realizing it all is a sort of interactive advertising bit or television commercial.
Can you say fake? I get it, advertising is a business of creating emotion and fantasies. But the ethics of advertising are being overlooked as the nature of Instagram shifted from blogger/community focused to advertising focused so subtly that most cannot tell the difference. The difference is there, and there is a rise in depression and suicide in younger people to show for it.
Let's get back to my own personal level before I spin out of esoteric control. Despite all this ad inundation, I didn't quit IG on a purely social warrior stance. As it does inevitably to everyone who uses it, IG was taking up too much of my time. I worried and stressed about getting a certain number of posts out. I spent countless hours making sure I interacted with several different accounts to gain exposure. My friends and I talked about posting, analytics, etc when we could have been talking about anything else.
The last straw was when I started catching myself reaching for my phone rather than my book. I've been reading since I was super young (and trying to read before I could!), so for me to be preferring social media over my constant written companion was simply the last straw for me. Some flags are so big and bright red they can't be ignored.
So now I am giving myself back over to the real (well, unless I'm working on writing my novels!), and it feels phenomenal.
If I'm being completely honest, there are very few times I wish I still had Instagram. I can think of two very specific times when someone around me was posting video to their IG story; a part of me was sad I couldn't check out the post! However, those regrets are hugely outweighed. So far this experiment has prompted more personal interactions with people, more reading on the actual websites of bloggers I used to follow, and by far less negativity.
I don't expect everyone to follow suit--like I said, I'm not a social warrior. If you gain anything from reading this essay, hopefully it will be a lesson that transcends the social media world, as that's kind of the point. Hopefully you will be inspired to put down the phone, read a book, enjoy the outdoors, savor the unique beauty of your life in its fullness--not just in a filtered square Instagram frame.