My Love-Hate Relationship with Instagram
Well, I did it. I took the plunge and left Instagram for one month. PHEW. There were withdrawals, fear of missing out, and most importantly some much needed time in the real world.
My last two weeks in Thailand turned into a form of rebellion against Instagram as I continuously saw individuals striving for the perfect Insta worthy shot, instead of soaking in the beauty around them. Even though I’m guilty of this as well, I became so frustrated that social media, especially Instagram, has started to dictate how we experience our lives, communicate and interact with each other and is robbing us of our ability to be fully present. But of course, there is a certain pressure related to sharing as well - I had been wanting to take a break from Instagram for a few months, but literally felt like I couldn't. It wasn't until I realized that the anger building inside of me was getting stronger and needed to be tended to off the platform, that I finally took responsibility for my own Instagram reality check.
Over the course of a month these realizations came to me through various book passages, blog posts, and conversations that all seemed to hit me just at the right moment.
My Instagram reality check came down to three main lessons:
1. I was living in someone else’s business
When we see so much of other people’s lives on social media it is so easy to subconsciously get caught up in it and start to feel emotions like anger, judgement, comparison... whatever it may be that leads to a negative headspace. This headspace can very easily transfer from the digital world to your real life relationships with others and yourself.
When I became angry seeing copious amounts of people striving for the perfect Insta worthy shot while traveling, I myself was subconsciously getting caught up in their reality and losing all aspects of my own present being.
We start to feel like we know so much of someone else’s life from the amount that we see, and start to judge their every move. I’ve done it. I’ve also had people do it to me. But truthfully, we see a very specifically curated picture of their life and we have no right to judge or make assumptions.
This was my first reality check - who’s business am I even living in? Someone else’s or my own?
2. Why am I sharing?
I needed to step back and make sure I was sharing for reasons that resonated with my soul - not because I felt pressure to uphold an image, not for the comments, likes, and follows which I now understand can easily turn into a way to boost your ego, and most certainly not to share just for the sake of sharing something…
I do believe that there is a high level of connection that Instagram offers - I’m able to keep up with friends and family easily while around the world which is such a blessing. But there is also this level of separation. Separation that comes in the form of only sharing a finely curated image, striving to be perceived as perfect instead of real. There is separation in the internal competition to have more followers than others leading to some skewed form of hierarchy. Separation from yourself as you spend more time tending to your digital life than your spiritual wellbeing.
I needed to come back to that place where sharing is not about me at all - it’s about how the Universe can use me through the abilities I’ve been given. A place where pride, ego, and self-focus have no power over what truth needs to be shared. To be reminded that our oneness is much more powerful than our separation and we should always strive to run alongside each other, cheering one another on, instead of trying to simply get ahead...
3. What do I place first in my life?
What’s the first thing you do in the morning? There was a long period where I woke up and the first thing I did was check Instagram. “What did people say? How many new followers did I gain? Please don’t let me have lost any followers!”
BOOM. Wake. Up. Call. The verse I meditate on everyday is Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you.”
I was putting Instagram before my faith. I was putting Instagram before my own inner being. I was putting Instagram before meditation, conversing, eating, going to the bathroom… I needed to get my fix first thing in the morning because who knows what I’ve missed!
I started taking notice of my thoughts - I was constantly thinking about what to post, when to post, what I’m going to say, how I’ll say it, how I should edit my photos, what hashtags I’ll use, what companies I should tag, WILL THIS EVEN MATCH MY GRID?! I was consumed. I was addicted.
Instagram suddenly had all of the power. Without knowing it I was starting to believe that my success, my value, my self-worth was make or break depending on my presence and performance on Instagram.
Are you ready for this? Your success, your worth, your value, your resources and abilities come from the Universe. NOT Instagram.
Write it down, screenshot it, whatever you need to do to be reminded when you start to feel stressed out or frustrated from the digital world.
I needed to learn how to look at Instagram, and social media in general, as an outlet for the Universe to use me. Whether or not success comes from social media itself, is completely out of my hands.
I know now, more than ever, that I need to watch my thoughts and habits regarding Instagram furiously.
To help keep me on track, I'll continually use these questions and reminders. And if you feel compelled, I hope you'll use them, too:
Whose business are you living in?
If you start to feel negative thoughts and emotions towards someone, or even yourself, after scrolling through your Instagram feed - let’s take responsibility for our reality check and come back to our own lives. We have enough problems of our own, why add someone else’s?
What are you putting first in your life?
We can safely assume that this one is not just for checking social media! Maybe you have a love affair with email… either way, let’s pay close attention of our conscious and subconscious priorities.
Why are you posting?
Be aware of subconscious patterns that may link posting to boosting your ego and finding your value in those Insta likes and follows. Do specific feelings arise when you want to post? Loneliness, low self-esteem, bragging rights, pure joy, love, light? You’ll learn what feelings arise and when you should avoid posting and go within to find your peace.
How often are you opening the app?
When I was bored, I was opening Instagram every few minutes. In those moments, RUN! Find a book, go for a walk, do some yoga, write, sing, sit, be still. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck in the vortex of an endless feed.
Most importantly find your balance
You may not struggle with social media, or smartphone usage in general, but it is all about finding balance. There is a lot of good in such a wide community. We have the ability to encourage, share love, spread light and connect. But let’s not forget about our connection to each other outside of the digital world.
My own personal reminder is that my happiness cannot be found from an external source… ever. I have to go within to connect to my presence, peace and joy. To find the answers I most long for, to check in and ask how my heart is doing. My inner being has everything I need and so does yours…
I am super excited to share again, but this time with purposeful intention that stems from my soul.
Cheers to the journey my friends, but more importantly, cheers to the process and all its wisdom. :)