I Deleted My Instagram Account and Here Are All the Ways It Changed My Life
I learned how to turn off and tune back in to reality.
Three months ago I made one of the hardest decisions of my adult life. No, it wasn't kicking a smoking habit or marching into my boss's office to declare, "I quit!" Rather, I did something that many people in our smartphone-addicted population would actually say is even more difficult to do: I removed the Instagram app from my phone.
And here's what I can tell you from the gorgeous, sunshine-splashed pasture on other side: Life is better.
It's not until you erase the app from your life that you realize quite how much of it was utterly dominated by that endless scroll, that triumphant thrill rush of getting a "like" on a new photo, that inexplicable need to double-tap NSFW Kim Kardashian photos. But don't take it from just me.
In fact, recent data suggests that Android users alone spend upwards of 53 minutes per day on Instagram. That's over six hours a week. Over the course of a year? Those users will have spent the equivalent of nearly two weeks on the app. (Two weeks!) Imagine all of the time that will be miraculously given back to you with the simple tap of a screen.
I don't regret my decision—and for all of the reasons I've listed here. So if you want to know what it feels like to live in a pre- or post-Instagram world, read on, and consider purging the app from your life as well.
I have much more free time.
The free time I found for reading, exercising, and a myriad of other things increased exponentially after I deleted my Instagram account. In fact, it was shocking to realize that I could finally find time to read Ulysses (seriously), or even finally clean out that junk drawer that I had been meaning to declutter at some point within the next decade or so.
It all comes down to moments of boredom. Instead of filling those moments by mindlessly scrolling the app, I now have to do something instead of staring into space. And I've found that my body naturally goes in the direction of reading books or taking a simple walk. Or, if it's a small moment in time (like, say, in a checkout line) I've learned not to fear those little one-and-a-half moments of boredom. Instead, I use the opportunity to simply daydream, which brings about remarkable feelings of peace.
My anxiety instantly declined.
Since creating an Instagram profile nearly six years ago, I have spent hours comparing my life to others with more money, fame, and VSCOcam filters. As a person who already struggles with anxiety, I never realized until it was gone how much Instagram compounded my anxiety. One of the final straws was seeing a random video of a beautiful female golfer hitting a tee shot in a gorgeous location in Spain, and I'm thinking to myself, "I hate my boring life for not being able to do anything like that."
Thankfully reality returned in full force and I realized how utterly ridiculous I am, because not only have I never played golf in my life but I also never intend to. I have no interest whatsoever. And if I ever go to Spain, there are 4,832,082 things I would do, approximately zero of them playing golf. It was a case of Instagram giving me anxiety and fueling feelings of jealousy that truly didn't need to exist. At all. Talk about self-sabotage.
As soon as I deleted the app, however, I noticed that my anxiety felt more manageable, now that those triggers—like envy—were no longer accessible at the touch of a button.
I was able to be more selective about the media I consume.
Despite its reputation for avocado toast photos and Emily Ratajkowski selfies, I found that my Instagram had gotten too political, as a shocking number of posts by friends and family—whom I didn't want to unfollow, and therefore appear rude—were using the platform to broadcast their views that I disagreed with.
Maybe I'm sensitive, but it totally stressed me out. Today, I'm living free of those viewpoints, and I'm dreading Thanksgiving far less.
I was able to live in the moment.
I became so obsessive about documenting my experiences on Instagram that I didn't even truly get to take in my surroundings that I was supposed to be experiencing. Now that I get to travel and experience new things without my phone by my side, I feel as though the moments are more precious, as I'm not constantly worrying about capturing the perfect photograph or video.
Besides, at the rate I was going, I was well on my way to amassing a personal photo library of, like, 983,332 photos by the time I am set to turn 30. Remember: Realizing that not every moment is actually worth recording is a major step in releasing yourself from the addictive hold of Instagram.
I stopped relying on approval from others.
This is definitely one of the darker sides to Instagram. Whenever I posted a photo, I was thrilled to get a like from certain friends. However, if I posted something that didn't get those likes, I actually spent time wondering why.
In the category of things-you-shouldn't-worry-about-in-this-life is why my friends liked the photo of the concert but not so much the twilight sky. Who cares?! Delete the app, however, and poof—you'll worry less about what people think.
I've noticed more details in my everyday surroundings.
Now that I'm not focusing on likes and followers, I can actually look up from the bright screen on my morning commute, or witness the people and places that have been there all along, unknown to me until I was finally able to put the phone down.
And, funny enough, I watch movies and actually pay attention to them now. (Who knew?!)
I learned how to document my experiences in more personal ways.
Rather than documenting every special moment in my life through an app, I have learned how to use other means to preserve my memories. Shortly after deleting the app, I began using old Polaroid cameras and journals to document my travels and life experiences. While it may sound old-fashioned, being able to physically touch and store memories on these devices feels like a more genuine way to keep track of my experiences.
I found new ways to connect with friends and acquaintances.
One of my biggest fears about deleting Instagram was finding new ways to stay on top of what was happening with my friends and family. This fear, it turns out, was unfounded. I simply see them all more.
Instead of being able to simply follow the adventures of others online, I now have to find other ways to stay in their lives. This fact has made my interactions with these people more personal, as it's forced me to interact with them outside of the bright screen and in the flesh. In a way, I feel as though this fact has only strengthened my relationships with others.
I go to bed much earlier.
Before I deleted Instagram, scrolling through the app while laying in bed became entirely too commonplace—and most likely contributed to the hours of sleep lost over the past few years.
Especially since it's even been proven that your phone's bright screen affects the number of hours you sleep per night, deleting the app was an important step for me to live a more well-rested life—devoid of the constant scrolling. And if you're looking for some sage hitting-the-hay advice, steal these 11 Doctor-Approved Secrets for Falling Asleep Faster—Tonight.
I started doing more things for myself.
Rather than curating my experiences to receive more likes, I can now find more time to do the things that I truly like, without worrying about whether or not other people will be interested in what I'm currently doing. Not only that, but I was also able to find joy in the smaller things that I might have refrained from doing in the name of trying to impress my Instagram followers. Without worrying about Instagram, I can now have more time just for myself, doing things that make me happy without worrying about what others think.
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