Quitting Instagram To Be Happier

Instagram would love this fake smile

Social media has long been accused of destroying our mental health and quitting it used to be much easier. Now that we are in a global pandemic a lot of us are out of work, bored and lonely sitting around the house all day watching our youth melt before our eyes like a pool toy on a sunny day. Picking up our phones and scrolling through other people’s lives helps to take our minds off of our own. The effects of social media are far reaching and damaging.

In my experience, I’ve always had a tricky relationship with Instagram. I love photography so it’s a great place to showcase my work but on the flip side, it’s also a great place to feel bad about my work. I hate the feeling of putting something out and checking for likes and validation. The feeling of checking my story to see if particular people have watched is so wholeheartedly cringeworthy, and when they haven’t looked? Pain.

This isn’t a new concept, it’s natural to want to express yourself, to want to be perceived and appreciated. In a pandemic, it’s way harder to find this type of validation. Ordinarily we would be getting it from friends and loved ones who we no longer see. 

Research has shown that Instagram is the worst social media platform for mental health and wellbeing. Other sites like YouTube and Twitter encourage users to learn and grow, these platforms aren’t entirely predicated on selfies and shopping. 

So why are we still using it? We know it’s bad for us yet it seems impossible to escape it’s glossy familiar clutches.  We use it because we’re lonely, bored and encouraged to use it. We’re in a pandemic and honestly there’s really not much else to do. Posting is great for self expression but terrible for self comparison. So here is a list of things I am doing to keep me from picking up my phone and logging in to that demonic shopping app.

Reading Books That I Actually Like

These books are not at all embarrassing but I have read Twilight and I am not ashamed to admit that

Hear me out. Often we’ll pick up a book and start it because someone we love or respect enjoyed it and they’ve recommended it or simply because we want to be the kind of person that would read a certain kind of book. This has happened to me and when it does it’s actually fucking torture to get through it. I am not excited to read it and becomes more of a chore than a simple pleasure.My advice? Read books that you actually like and don’t give a shit what people think. You’re a 50 year old woman who likes YA? Who cares! You love trashy thrillers or formulaic Harlequins? Good! Even if you’re reading actual garbage, you’re still reading, you’re still putting your brain first and you’re still not picking up that god forsaken phone.

Cooking

I realize this is a salad but I did bake the tofu so it still counts.

I know what you’re thinking because I think they very same thing. Cooking is challenging and it takes too long and it’s barely worth it. I never cooked until the pandemic hit and now I’ve forced myself into domesticity, cooking and almost enjoying the fruits of my labor. Cooking takes up a ton of time, is healthier than eating out and is often cheaper.

Walking

Four times a week I walk to the beach near my house and stare existentially at rocks.

Yes. Boring but effective. If you’re addicted to your phone, stuffing it deep down in your bag away from your jonesing little hands for 40 minutes while you walk around listening to a podcast is a great thing. Not only are you interacting with the world at large, you’re moving, getting fresh air and actually living your life instead of watching someone else’s on Instagram.

VSCO

This is where I love to post my little abstract images free from the shackles of likes and strangers asking why they aren’t selfies.

I use this app for photos and follow no one. No one follows me either. I still take tons of photos and edit them and post them but not for likes. Every time I post I expect that no one will like or share it and I’m happy with that.

Call Someone

Not them though.

I know this is terrifying but I have found that it works 300 percent better for curing loneliness than Instagram. Call a friend, it might be weird at first but chances are they are just as lonely and happy to know that someone cares about their existence too.

Anything is Better Than Nothing

I have been off of Instagram since January 1st. It has been tough at times because my city is in lockdown so most days are just staring out the window, but not facing the pressure to live some glorious life every day has lessened my anxiety beyond measure. I no longer feel the need to shop (why the fuck was I doing this, I literally sit in the house all day) my relationship with my person is better and not seeing my life as content when I’m barely able to move from bed some days. 

There’s so much self help out there but almost none of pertains to pandemic living. Everything is hard. We all don’t know what we are doing. We’re all just coping. If Instagram isn’t a problem for you, you’re lucky and special but if it is, try for a little bit to stop using it. Go slow, do like a day or two at a time. See how you feel. It won’t make your life instantly better but at the very least you will save money. 

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