For a few weeks now, I have been Instagram sober. I decided to delete the app from my phone because I was terribly bored of my relationship with it. I’ve done this a few times before, when I grew irritated at seeing people I didn’t know out for dinner, or mindlessly scrolling through someone’s holiday photos, but this time something felt more different. I was readdressing my relationship with Instagram and how multifaceted it is.
Don’t get me wrong – overall, I think social media can be a force for good. I have a lot of friends who I don’t see often, so using a sharing platform means I get to know what they’re up to. However, I started to question the ability to peer into the lives of people I don’t know. I can search the name of someone who is in my seminar and before the first class I can know their friends’ names, what breed of dog they have and how often they go out clubbing. There’s something a bit sinister about being able to know a plethora of information about someone before having met them.
My problems also manifested in the common comparison. In my first year of university, when I struggled to make real friendships, I would see other freshers who had big groups of besties within the first month. Social media hides the cracks and blurs the lines between real and fake. I have totally been guilty of it too – a little facetune to whiten my teeth or delete my double chin, or making it look like my life is just a slideshow of smiles and sunsets.
This complex platform of good and bad teases out the worst parts of myself. Obsessing over someone whose photos paint the ‘perfect’ life, sharing so much information and having preconceived ideas about someone before you’ve even met them, wasting time scrolling through countless pictures taking up precious space in your memory and constantly comparing yourself to those who appear to have something you don’t.
I know all of this is a major ‘me’ problem and not something that everyone thinks about. To many of my friends, it’s just an app to look at at the end of the day. I am not sure why for me it encapsulates a lot of problems – perhaps someone else can relate. To me, it seems ludicrous that my life could be affected so intensely by an app, but I’m sure people said the same thing about Farmville ten years ago.
I probably will go back on Instagram at some point in the near future. If we could all collectively agree to bin it off, I would jump for joy and recharge my old Motorola. However, I have a fear of missing out on the announcements and the pictures of my far-away friends and I miss documenting life events. Whilst going Insta-sober, I have realised that it is important to check your relationships to things, as well as just people. Toxicity can loom in the corner of your home screen, but luckily, it’s easier to delete an app than a person. For now, I will enjoy the time off but inevitably, I’ll go back to regularly posting smiley selfies and sunsets.