By now, it’s no surprise that 2019 was a pretty rough year for me personally. It was exacerbated by a difficult breakup at the end of the year, some financial problems, and a general malaise from all the news of the world.
By the time December 1st rolled around, I had pretty much checked out for the year—unable and unwilling to do much work, and just generally ~ tired. Every little thing was affecting my mood; I’d miss my train and instantly be frustrated.
I was too sad or too tired or too bored to do much of anything. It was hard to focus and my feelings were in constant flux.
With less work to do than usual, and even less writing opportunities during the hectic holiday season, and in a weird funk, I found myself lost and confused. I referred to it here on the blog as “my life on pause.”
With all this time all-of-a-sudden, I found myself obsessing over social media. Trying to “win” the breakup by proving my life was more exciting and interesting than it was. Social media only amplified that need, and that anxiety.
So, after years of talking about how much I loathe Instagram, I finally took a big step. For over a year, I’d been writing and telling anyone I could how toxic Instagram is, how it creates unnecessary anxiety, how it has oversimplified and demystified travel.
So, in early December, I decided to finally delete Instagram.
Now, I know you’re maybe going right away to see if I still have an Instagram—and I do. I didn’t delete my account. It’s too important for my brand to simply make it disappear. But I 100% deleted the app from my phone, and took an undefined hiatus from using the app or the site.
It was a big step to take. But in those weeks before I had started seeing a counselor, I was acutely aware of how Instagram was having a constant effect on my mood—in a very bad way.
I had to delete Instagram. I just couldn’t bear to see other people’s accounts, to see their smiling faces while I felt I was drowning in loneliness and despair. It hurt too much.
So I just removed it from my life—and made it so much more difficult to access in case I was tempted to preview the app.
Why delete Instagram?
Honestly, there are a lot of reasons why you might delete Instagram. For me, it was personal. I was tired of the social media addiction, and I knew it was negatively affecting my mood. But, owned by Facebook, Instagram has its own privacy and political issues why someone might choose to delete their account.
Personally, I find Instagram one of the most toxic places on the internet. Sure, Twitter has its own problems, but Instagram (far and away the most popular social media app) has a lot of its own negatives.
In October last year, Instagram themselves announced changes to help with some of the toxic issues with their Explore tab—making it harder for people with eating disorders or mental illness to see certain content that might exacerbate those issues.
It seems for many people, especially those fragile dealing with mental and health issues, Instagram has the potential to cause a lot of problems. I’ve been acutely aware of it since moving to New York City, when I found myself constantly pressured on Instagram to look a certain way, and to buy into a certain lifestyle (very capitalistic ~ and very expensive).
From my socialist leanings and interest, and my years of living in a democratic socialist country, I’ve always felt a bit distant from the Instagram lifestyle.
And that’s why in December, when dealing with my own mental health crisis, I took the brave decision to simply quit it. To say: no more.
Deleting the app prevented me from accessing all the triggers that were causing me harm, and it helped me reset my focus on better thoughts and better things. When I also canceled my Netflix and deleted that from my life, I found myself more aware of my surroundings and more in-tune with my thoughts and emotions. Able to finally focus on them and make what improvements I could.
For me, I knew Instagram was bad. It made me feel bad. I was sad watching others live lives I wanted. And for 30 days, I avoided it all.
That gave me the space and the time to begin to acknowledge the problems I have, and the opportunity to reset and refocus.
When I decided to delete Instagram, I didn’t give myself a deadline or a date, but as 30 days approached, and as the new year began and people were starting to trickle back into their regular work lives, I figured I’d have to get back online.
I knew I had to get back into my own regular work life and schedule after the holidays—and, importantly, that meant getting back onto Instagram.
At the time, I posed a question to my Facebook friends on whether I should continue with my “quit Instagram” ethos, or (because of my unique work as an influencer & writer), get back on the bandwagon. Reviews came in mixed. Nearly 50 people chimed in with their own thoughts on whether Instagram was good or bad, or if I was just being stupid.
Tomorrow marks 30 days since I stopped using Instagram. I feel better, but I also know I kind of need it for work in 2020.
Not really sure how to continue: is money/work more important than my well-being?
30 Days Without Instagram; Was it Worth It?
Yes. A resounding yes.
I wish I could stay off Instagram longer, but truthfully, so much of our world runs on Instagram these days.
I’m a social person and always looking for cool events or parties to go to; and often the only way to find out about them from bars or other venues is on their Instagram accounts. Artists and performers announce their gigs almost purely on social media. For any creative person, Instagram is *the* outlet.
For my work, unfortunately, there’s a professional aspect to being active on Instagram that requires near constant attention and uploads to continue to stay relevant. It is what it is.
So while I would prefer to stay off Instagram more regularly, at the moment it’s just not possible. A 30-day digital detox and hiatus, though, was perfectly manageable and didn’t seem to negatively affect my work or respect as a professional influencer.
However, I know I did benefit from taking my digital detox during the already chaotic holiday season when there was less work to be done regardless.
But I do believe that if and when you might want to take your own social media break, it is possible. It doesn’t have to hurt your work or your brand. And it can only help with your own sanity and give you the time you might need to solve your own problems, to heal your pain, to take the time to breathe.
Thirty days without Instagram was a sort of meditation for me. A chance to break free from some bad habits and spend a little more time on my own health and well-being.
And while I’m already back on Instagram, regularly posting again, I now know that I can take those social media breaks when I need to—for however long I might need.
Health comes first. Especially mental health. Take the breaks you need. And get offline and go outside when you can; it can only ever help.
It’s also important to acknowledge that Instagram can and does affect us. Yes, it has positives and negatives, but so long as you acknowledge their existence, that’s half the battle.
Now that you’ve read about my general distaste for Instagram, and how I quit it this past month and plan to quit it again and again, I hope you’ll still follow along. I try to keep my existence there as real as I can. It’s my story, my life after all. Follow me on Instagram for more.