Serena, one of our guest bloggers (see her nutrition posts here) has been reflecting on her social media use, particularly her use of Instagram. Enjoy!
The problem with social media
It’s the first thing we check when we wake up and the last thing we look at before we go to bed. Whether its endlessly scrolling through your Instagram account, stalking your friends of Facebook, or checking how many likes you got on your latest upload; social media is becoming a large and consuming part of our everyday lives.
I’m sure I am not alone when I say that there is a level of anxiety that comes with having the ability to be constantly updated on everything your friends are doing at any given time. In addition to this, there is also the added pressure of feeling the need to conform and constantly update others on your own life.
Why I decided to quit Instagram
While I believe that it’s not all bad, and that there is a place for social media in our modern day lives, I came to a point where I felt that there had to be more to my day than mindlessly scrolling through these apps in every spare second I had. So, for a year, I decided to delete my Instagram account in an effort to ‘un-addict’ myself.
I will say that there was a sense of ‘missing out’ even deleting the app, and for the proceeding weeks it did take some time to adjust to not having the option to check what my friends and favourite bloggers had uploaded. But, over time, I can say that it did teach me some valuable lessons; that of which I will share with you below.
- I learnt how to enjoy experiences without the pressure of posting it online.
How many times have you gone out for the day or visited a beautiful place, and before you even arrive, you are already planning the perfectly staged picture you will take and the witty caption that will go with it? I’m not proud to say that I am also guilty of this. While it is important and fun to take pictures on big events or holidays away, I found that there was a sense of anxiety that came with getting the ‘perfect picture’. I would also feel frustrated if I wasn’t able to do so. I felt a sense of freedom when I no longer had the temptation to post these pictures online. This allowed me to fully enjoy the activity that I was doing. I also learnt to care less about how I looked in pictures knowing that it was not getting posted anywhere.
- You have time for whatever you prioritise in your life.
So many of us have a list of things we want to learn or try, but claim that we can’t because we don’t have enough time. Something I learnt from having one less social media app was that there were less places on my phone to spend time scrolling and checking notifications. I would often find myself picking up my phone, scrolling through my apps, and actually looking for something to spend my time on just out of habit. This gave me the opportunity to choose to put my phone down, and go and do something more useful with my time.
- I really wasn’t missing out on much.
Fear of missing out is a real thing, and I think a lot of people use this to justify their decision for staying on social media. This was the one reason that always used to stop me from taking a break from the app. While I agree that apps such as Facebook are harder to delete as it can often be used as a platform to organise social events; I do believe that we could live without Instagram.
In logging back on after taking a break, I was welcomed by the same people posting the same old pictures. Between the classic posts of drinks on Saturday nights, couples pictures, and wanderlust posts… I really didn’t feel as if I had missed much. Honestly, if anything, I felt as if I had been better off just focusing on myself. Social media breeds comparison; and comparison entirely takes away from the person that you are and the life you already have.
- Social media can be a source of positive content.
This lesson came as the biggest surprise to me, as up until recently I would definitely say that I was someone who viewed social media as being all negative. I found when I got back on Instagram, that I was finally able to reconnect with the profiles containing positive and meaningful content that I had previously followed. From this experience, I can say that while it may be difficult to avoid social media altogether, we can definitely learn how to use it with purpose to turn it into a more productive use of our time. Being selective about who you allow to appear in your newsfeed forms a big part of this.
- The importance of setting boundaries when using social media.
Now that I am back on Instagram, I have definitely learnt that there is a place for setting boundaries when it comes to social media. For me, this involves not checking any apps during the first hour when I wake up and the last hour before sleep. I also choose to sometimes temporarily delete a social media app from my phone when I notice myself checking it too frequently or feeling anxious. These strategies have been useful in reducing the addictive feeling and behaviour that comes with the use of these apps.
If you don’t want to go to the extreme of deleting any of your apps, but want to reduce the amount of time you are spending on them, checking your screen time daily average on your phone can be a good place to start. This can help to bring your awareness to how much time you are actually spending on social media each day. You may also benefit from using the time restrictions of specific apps.