From the time I downloaded Instagram until now, the world that is social media has drastically changed. I remember being 13 years old and posting several pictures a day — whenever, whatever I wanted to. Whether it was an unedited selfie or a screenshot of somebody's Notes App with the caption "Repost for good luck!" my social media journey started out as casual and exciting.
The development of social media as a career has significantly changed the environment I once enjoyed so much. Everything has become dependent on likes. People generate revenue when you double-tap their advertisements. People have made a living off of posting edited photos of themselves and engaging with their followers. There is so much pressure and so many unspoken rules surrounding what to post and how often to post and what time you should post a photo in order for it to get the most likes. It's overwhelming. It's no longer carefree.
When I post a photo of myself and nobody comments, I question if it's a good picture, regardless of the confidence I had when I posted it. When I post something to my story, I watch it at least three times to make sure it looks perfect. When I don't receive as many likes as I thought I should have, I become anxious. When I see my boyfriend like a picture of an Instagram model and not mine, I get offended. All of these things are toxic effects of social media, and I know I am not alone in having these types of thoughts. While writing them down, I felt silly. I know none of these things matter and nobody is even going to remember my post in a week, however, all of these worries seem so real when scrolling through my news feed.
A week ago, I realized that the way my anxiety was so influenced by social media was a problem. I deleted the Instagram and Twitter apps from my phone. I didn't go as far as to delete the accounts I have created — I do see the benefit of having them. I use social media to reach out to old friends and be involved with organizations at school and create memories with the photos I post, yet a break was necessary. It helped me realize that all of the social pressure that comes with Instagram can be erased by simply deleting the app.
Over the course of the week, I found myself continually clicking on the social media folder I have set up on my phone and searching for Instagram and Twitter. It is so habitual that I could find where the apps were on my phone with my eyes closed. I had to train myself to stop searching for the apps whenever I found free time in the day. I also found myself more focused on class and less worried about other people. The only people I had contacted throughout the week were my close friends, and that's all I needed.
This social experiment taught me how unimportant social media is in the grand scheme of things.
It can be fun to post, but it shouldn't become a lifestyle. Anxiety stemming from social media is being studied quite frequently right now. I challenge you to take the week off from Instagram and see how it affects your mood — taking a break greatly improved mine.