After much deliberation, this week I deleted my last remaining social media account: Instagram. The process was uncomfortable but also a huge relief, kind of like when I deleted my Facebook account about a year ago.
To give you a bit of background, I used to be a huge social media addict. A while back, in the afternoons I would return home from the job I hated, kick off my shoes, grab something to eat and scroll through Facebook for a minimum of half an hour each afternoon. The sad irony here is that I was engaging in this habit to try and distract myself from my depression, only to feel more depressed at the end of these scrolling sessions.
Why did I keep going back for more each day? Sadomasochism? Boredom? Lack of self-control? FOMO? Probably a combination of all of these. Clearly, my social media habit was self-destructive, but back then I unfortunately didn’t have the self-awareness to recognise it for what it was. Now, I feel a lot of sadness and compassion for that person I used to be.
While more recently I feel I’ve had a very healthy, self-regulated relationship with social media, I still felt glad to be off there. The act of deleting my Instagram account felt a bit impulsive but the decision itself was based on two reasons that I’ve been carefully thinking through lately.
Firstly, while I love spending the occasional five or ten minutes on Instagram to see the fun and interesting ‘behind-the-scenes’ photos posted by my blogger friends (like kitties, food and decluttered items – all the good things ☺️), I’ve also noticed a steadily increasing stream of advertising posts coming my way on there. When I first signed up for IG, there weren’t any advertising posts in sight. The final time I logged in before deleting my account this week, I decided to count how many ads appeared in the first twenty posts in my news feed and the total was three. Considering how much advertising I see each day as it is, both on the internet and in real life, that felt like three ads too many. As they say, if a product is free, you’re the product.
The second reason I decided to delete my account is that I just don’t feel I have space in my life for it anymore. I’m trying to reduce my mental load this year and really focus on the things that are most important to me right now: study, my mental health, my marriage, reducing my footprint and building a sense of community both on and offline. While I see many positive sides to Instagram, fully acknowledging and appreciating the way it helps many millions of people around the world to strengthen friendships and stay in touch, I just don’t feel it fits in with who I am and what I want at this point in my life.
It’s therefore goodbye, social media…for now. Living in the digital age, I know it will always be around in case I feel pulled back to it. If things change for me and the impulse to sign up again appears, I’ll go with that feeling – just like this time I went with the urge to step back, take a deep breath and press ‘delete’.