Seven months ago, I decided to break up with Instagram. I was spending embarrassingly long hours. It wasn’t just bad for my mental health (for that matter, it’s not good for ANYBODY’s mental health); it had become a toxic place I’d go to spend hours every day avoiding my built up anxieties and fears. Whenever I had a reason to panic, Instagram would invite me in with open arms and then lock me into a tight, uncomfortably long hug.
Years ago, I diligently shared curated quality content to my Instagram stories. I followed an extensive list of artists who’d make some excellent comics. And I’d handpick the good ones to share as a story. Then I’d secretly get a kick out of seeing all the people responding to it.
Eventually, I realised it really wasn’t worth my time; there must have been a moment of epiphany that is now escaping my mind. So I narrowed down my sharing behaviour to only moments from my life. I wasn’t putting my face out there so much, but I still had to make sure it looked pretty. So it was a lot of pictures of dogs, sunsets, cute details of my balcony garden, or videos shot while riding a pillion on a bike.
I was quickly able to see through my own pretence. That one post I shared about the flower I hand-painted in watercolour? That’s pretty much the only time I picked up the brush in two months.
Why was I doing this? Doing this certainly didn’t make my life any better. But it made the idea of a certain kind of life better. I don’t mean to say that I was faking it, but I was definitely curating only the more admirable moments to share, and yes, that’s the whole point of social media. I know, I didn’t say I was gonna make a brand new point in this blog; sorry to disappoint you.
To compensate for that, I’ll throw in another embarrassing confession. I would check who all had seen my stories after I posted them. Yeah. It was clearly time for me to say goodbye. Although that still wasn’t it; the breaking point was something else. I was going about my business (non-phone related but shortly after an hour-long endless scrolling) when I realised I couldn’t even hear the sound of my own thoughts over those cringe-worthy songs that people use to make reels.
And that was the day, guys, 7th July 2021. I knew I had to do something before I went absolutely mental. I logged off and never looked back. For months I didn’t open the app again. It was only around December when I logged in, only discovering that I had successfully gotten over it. What a moment of total bliss.
I was no longer interested in whatever it was that these clever content creators were trying to ‘help me learn’ with by snapping their fingers to make text appear on the screen. Or trying to humour me with melodramatising relatable everyday scenarios of the miserable millennial life. Or tell me how to make my home look lovely (always, ALWAYS trying to sell me things).
So during my surprise visit to the dark and glittery world of Instagram in December, I could no longer see the point of it all. I found it so incredibly absurd to see what everyone was doing there. It was all so excessive and jarring.
I knew now that my relationship with Instagram that was only hanging by a thread had now snapped. Once and for all. Sometimes it feels like, metaphorically speaking, what really snapped was the safety tether, and now I’ve been floating away into the empty space, all on my own. Because now there’s nobody to see and nobody to be seen by.