I love Instagram. I love scrolling, stalking and storying and I love the instant and in-depth insight it gives me into the world of my close circle and otherwise unobtainable celebrities alike. I make mood boards of beauty looks I love and interiors I aspire to, stashing them away in my saved posts. I have countless ongoing DMs with friends, sharing meme after meme after meme as well as messing around with the latest filters. And yet, two weeks ago, without forewarning, I deleted the app off my phone entirely.
A bit of context; two weeks ago, my house was broken into, ransacked and burgled. The feeling of intrusion was almost unbearable; they’d riffled through birthday cards, books, photos, jewellery and clothes as well as walking away with laptops and phones that held thousands of photos and little fragments of my life. They’d smashed through every drawer, every cupboard and every shelf, stealing my possessions, while simultaneously destroying my personal privacy and my sense of sanctuary.
I suddenly felt fiercely protective of my privacy and my life and the idea of sharing even any information, no matter how seemingly superficial, to anyone other than the people I trust unconditionally, was entirely unfathomable. I felt paranoid and untrusting, and consequently went into total lock down mode. I equipped my house with alarm systems and cameras, multiple locks and bolts, and changed every password I could think of. And I deleted Instagram.
Is posting about our mental health struggles on Instagram just making the problem worse for everyone?
While I haven’t really used Facebook or Twitter for years, but my Instagram page is a true window into my life with realtime posts and musings posted on a near daily basis. I reveal where I am, who I’m with and what I feel. And to make yourself so exposed at a time when you feel so vulnerable and violated is not appealing.
Of course, I’ve read all about the negative effect social media has on our mental health as have I experienced the effects first hand – the feelings of inadequacy, FOMO and self-doubt that ensue after scrolling through too many perfectly posed pictures are surely inevitable for any user. But I always felt, subconsciously, that the benefits outweighed the negatives, and that Instagram was a important instrument in modern life and so I would have my phone glued to my hand at all times, on standby for the next Instagrammable moment.
But I didn’t delete it for wellness sake, this wasn’t a ‘digital detox’, and I didn’t experience pining for my phone or withdrawal pangs from not having it anymore. I didn’t actually care what other people were up to or the fact that I hadn’t posted in days – I could only just about process what was going on in my own life and the thought of posting anything made me feel uneasy.
After a few days I began to regain something that social media often takes away from you – appreciation for your friends. Not your followers, or your likers, nor the influencers you follow or celebrities you aspire to be like. I’m talking about the people who you can call to on the phone and who you see in real life. The people whose houses you’ve been to, whose parents you’ve met and whose birthdays you know. And while I have always known that deep down, my actions were speaking otherwise; I would be on Instagram while in their company; reading and not replying to messages, instead switching apps to scroll through my feed. Deleting my Instagram made me refocus my interest and time on the people who matter, and I’ve become more curious as to what they’re doing, rather than people I, quite frankly, don’t really care about.
Simple and free acts of self-care to try if you’re feeling anxious