The Thought Process
I never thought I would be addicted to anything – alcohol, drugs, or any of the stuff my parents told me to stay away from. Little did I realize that I was carrying my addiction with me everywhere I went. It was always in my pocket or my hand, next to me when I slept, in my backpack during class, on the beach with me during the summer, in my car while I was driving, in the bathroom while I showered. You name it, and my addiction was always there, just waiting for my attention.
I realized that my addiction was my phone. More specifically, Instagram. This one little gadget designed to share photographs with friends has completely revolutionized the way that I, and much of my generation, define socializing. At one point in time, you could only talk to someone in person or on the telephone. A good old fashioned land-line telephone. With a chord. (Does the youngest generation even know what those look like??) Nowadays, we can not only talk to someone at any time, at any moment, at any place in the world, but we can also see what they are doing through pictures and videos. Is it me, or is that slightly creepy when you actually say it out loud?
We have learned to “post” about our lives so that the world can see what we are doing, who we are with, and the kind of life we appear to be living. The key word in that sentence is “appear.” After checking Instagram countless times during the day and always comparing my life and body to other’s, I realized that people only post what they want you to see. On Instagram, we can perfectly edit our lives to appear precisely how we want them to. I’m not saying that everyone does, but there’s certainly a lot of thought that goes into posting.
After watching zombies walk around my campus on phones and listening to silent conversations at restaurants, as well as my excessive amount of time essentially watching other people’s lives, I decided to delete the app. I sent out a farewell post, my freshly showered face without makeup, and was on my way back into the real world. Using this experience, I wanted to share my withdraw, if you will, from social media over the course of the following days.
Day 1: Deletion Day
If I was going to do this right, I needed to fully commit. Once the photo posted, I hit delete. It sounds strange to say, but as soon as I deleted the app I wanted to see how my farewell post was doing. That in itself proved that it needed to be done.
As I drove to class, I couldn’t help but feel proud, like my Pinocchio strings had been detached and I was finally walking on my own. No more proving to the world that I was having a great time with my friends, or that my winter outfit is #supercozy. My hands and mind definitely itched for my phone a few times during class, but when I picked it up I realized I had no reason to. Having no Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat is surprisingly liberating.
During down time is when my mind itches for social media the most. Commercial break? Instagram. Walking alone in public? Instagram. Waiting in line? Instagram. Where social media once filled these pauses, I now notice peaceful, calm moments. I don’t always need to be on my phone, looking at a screen. These moments can be used as a conscious break for myself, a moment to look up and notice the world around me.
Day 3: Transitioning
I admit it. I’m not proud of it. I caved. I wanted to see how the post did so I had my boyfriend show it to me, and I was delightfully surprised by how many supportive comments I received… and also humored because people left comments even though they knew I was deleting my account and therefore wouldn’t see them. Well, if I hadn’t cheated by using someone else’s phone, I wouldn’t have seen them. One of my friends commented, “take me with you lol” and another “see you in real life, Tofu.” (My nickname is Tofu but that’ll have to be explained in another article.) I felt an overwhelming amount of support, and with that in mind, I closed the app before my addiction could get the best of me.
Later that night I received another comment, this time in person, from my friend Erik. He said, “Tofu, you inspired me to delete my Instagram, too. I hope you start a movement.” At first I just smiled and laughed, saying I was glad to have been a positive influence. But then I started thinking… What if I could start a movement?
Day 7: Liberation
This may be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve gone from checking my phone every ten minutes to only looking at my phone if someone calls or texts me. There’s a slight urge to reach for that little tech rectangle every once in a while, but I find myself paying more attention to conversations, focusing for longer periods on school work, and using my time more productively.
Now I’m certainly not perfect by any means, but I can already feel that deleting my Instagram has lowered my stress and anxiety levels by a good ten notches. It feels so satisfying to be “off the grid,” in a sense. If you want to know what’s going on in my life, you can text me, call me, or see me in person. Sure, a huge aspect of social media is the being social part, but it’s ultimately become a platform for comparison and watching others. We should live our lives in the present moment, not worrying about “capturing the moment” so that we can showcase it later for others on social media.
If you want a fresh perspective on life, I highly recommend deleting your Instagram, or any social media. It will break you away from all of the advertising and framing and glorifying that exists in the artificial world of technology and the Internet. Now that I’ve deleted mine, I suppose you’ll only know what I’m doing through my blog or if you talk to me. Did I just drop out of college or win the lottery? Guess you may never find out.