Part II: What I Learned From a Month off of Instagram

Welcome back! I know it has taken me a while to post this, but it’s been difficult to compile all my thoughts and realizations into key points so I’m sorry for the delay. I’m surprised there wasn’t an uproar considering I have, like, five whole people reading this blog. Anyways, if you haven’t already, I recommend that you read part one first so you have a bit of context. Now let’s talk about the things I learned from a month off of Instagram:

1. Prior to my month off, I was on Instagram way more than I should have been (and I hadn’t fully realized it at the time).

When I decided to give the gram a break, I left the app on my phone but decided that I would make a conscious effort not to tap on the app unless I received a DM (of which I only received a few during my hiatus). What I noticed is that I unconsciously/ accidentally tapped on the Instagram icon a scary number of times a day (If we’re going to psycho-analyze these illusive taps, I think young peoples’ use of social media as a distraction from tasks at hand or from boredom leads to us going onto our different platforms without even realizing it). Anyways, each time I accidentally went on Instagram I promptly exited the app as I instantaneously recalled that I couldn’t be on there. These slip ups ended up being the most important indicator of how I was overusing the platform; if I had been going on Instagram as many times as I was accidentally tapping on it, I would have been wasting the same amount of time as it takes to watch a feature-length movie… which is well over an hour, if we’re being modest. As the month progressed, however, I noticed that my accidental taps decreased in frequency, and close to the end of the month I practically didn’t even notice the app taking up space on my phone.

2. I wasn’t missing out on anything important. Literally nothing.

Like I said in part one, FOMO is one of the forces that kept me on Instagram in the first place. But that shouldn’t have been a fear because a) I’m not generally a nosy person, so I don’t particularly care about what’s happening every moment of peoples’ lives, especially people I’m not close to, and b) Instagram was barely ever brought up in real-life conversation. I think my friends talked to me about Instagram a maximum of two or three times that month, which shows that even though it is a ‘social’ app, the socializing is very much confined to digital comments and likes. I suppose how often people talk about others’ posts varies from person to person and friend group to friend group, but I generally don’t see Instagram making its way into real-life conversation very often. The fact of the matter is that the majority of people use Instagram to make their lives seem more interesting than they really are, so missing out on such things really isn’t much of a tragedy. And for those rare people who do use Instagram in meaningful ways, such as promoting a business, demonstrating creativity, or sharing experiences of social activism, it’s easiest to keep up with them by going directly to their pages rather than scrolling through all the fluff in hopes of seeing something good.

3. It’s super cookie-cutter (I knew this even before I had taken a break).

People follow a basic recipe or set of guidelines when it comes to taking Instagram pictures: good lighting, high color saturation, high sharpness, etc. These things are understandable as most people want their pictures to look attractive and high-quality. But then, the beauty and fashion blogger types like to up their Instagram cred by incorporating token trending items into their pictures, which range from things like Gucci belts to dewy skin to weird squatting poses in skin-tight Fashion Nova clothing (you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about). The final touch is adding a healthy dosage of FaceTune. Voila, you have yourself an Insta-clone.

The unfortunate truth is that these kind of Instagram pictures encourage conformity and inhibit creativity, which is quite disappointing. Not everyone is a photographer or a model, and that’s fine, but it seems like anytime someone doesn’t have something to post they resort to following what everyone else is doing because that’s what will get them the most attention.

4. It’s a good distraction.

Although I’ve been beating down on Instagram pretty hard, I have to admit, it is a good distraction. I think, first and foremost, one should feel comfortable just being on his or her own without having to rely on technology or social media to fill time. That being said, if someone needs a break from work or studying or has some time to kill, Instagram can be a welcome distraction.

My current relationship with Instagram and some unsolicited advice:

So now that I am free of the shackles (that I placed on myself) of avoiding Instagram, how am I spending my time? Well, I’ll tell you that I haven’t just ignored everything I’ve learned and gone back to using Instagram the same way in which I used to. I limit my Instagram usage by only allowing myself to check in a few times a day. And, to be honest, the days I’m really busy I don’t even remember to use it at all. Secondly, I purged a bunch of the accounts I was following. If I wasn’t genuinely interested in seeing someone’s content, or it was just a formality follow, I kissed that account goodbye. This has been great is so many ways, the most notable being that it has given me a feed I can actually keep up with.

Lastly, even though you didn’t ask for it, I’m going to give you some advice since I’m a fountain of knowledge and all.

  1. You should take a break from a social media of your choice. You may think there is nothing wrong with how you are living your life right now, but I can pretty much guarantee that if you go a couple weeks without social media you will heighten your self-awareness about your habits and may be able to increase your productivity as well as your overall happiness.
  2. Purge! You don’t have to follow, like, or be friends with anyone on social media that you’re not friends with in real life or whose content you’re not truly excited to see. All the unspoken rules and forced camaraderie are total B.S.
  3. Don’t give in to trends, hypes, or unoriginality. Authentic people on social media are rare gems because it is so difficult for people to be themselves when there is a formula for getting likes. Forget about doing or posting things for likes or attention, because there is nothing satisfying about being like everyone else, and you’ll be a better person for it.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to read this! If anything, I hope you got at least one thing out of this: you should follow me on Instagram @eclecticafrah 😉

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