So a few months ago I talked about my trials and tribulations with social media. In particular, Instagram, an app I started to feel like was consuming so much of my time and frankly, it did not make me feel great every time I would use it. So I decided to deactivate, unplug, and recenter.
I realized that no matter how many times I had deleted the app off my phone, I still found myself thinking about posting and checking on it throughout the day. I would often re-download with the sole justification that the browser version doesn’t have the DM message feature, so what if I got an important message?? And that person thinks I’m ignoring them? This also goes to say that I would still check instagram on my phone and computer browser. It felt like a half hearted, one toe in, attempt at unplugging.
I knew that deactivating it would give myself the final piece of mind, my account doesn’t exist so no messages, and no account to log into. I decided I would deactivate for two weeks and see how I felt.
I first felt so disconnected from everyone, especially being in Japan, I felt out of the loop from my friends in America, out of connection, and just like, lonely. Such a creepy feeling, realizing there was a placebo affect that made me think that I was keeping up with my friends just by seeing what they were doing on Instagram. I felt disconnected from my friends here in Japan too, but it was more of a cathartic feeling because I had come to realize that feeling of missing out or like I wasn’t doing anything fun or sadness from not being invited to stuff.
After awhile, I also began to really realize how much free time I had and always kind of had. Would come home from school, eat lunch, do my homework, and sit on my bed wondering what to do now. It set in that all of my free time is spent on Instagram, literally hours. So with this time, I started watching youtube videos. Now technically speaking, this isn’t much of a step up from Instagram, productivity wise but as a means to waste time I feel like I don’t fall into the negative thought patterns I usually do with Instagram. Watching videos on film analysis video essays, altering thrifted clothes, travel vlogs, things like that, things that bring me joy and are interesting to watch and feel a little bit more productive.
I also began to realize how much time it leaves me to think especially while on the train and out and about, not checking Instagram leaves the mind free to wander and ponder, and be more creative.
After two weeks, I reactivated my instagram. It made me really happy to see what my friends have been up to, but overall, I did not come back feeling refreshed or feeling any different about the app. Rather, feeling more aware and conscious of my relationship to social media.