At the moment Instagram and I are “on a break”.
I don’t know about you, but I find I can spend a LOT of hours in my week scrolling through these tiny little squares that can have a huge impact on my mental well-being. I can end up in a black hole of comparison (and even investigation) into the life of someone I know almost nothing about!
So when the church I attend introduced a season of fasting for the month of September, I knew instinctively what I was going to do. I was going to fast from Instagram. Quite possibly the thing that had been consuming most of my time in a average day was the amount of time spent on my phone scrolling through Instagram, or creating posts for my profile/Instagram stories. It had got to the point that if something that happened in my day wasn’t on my Instagram account somewhere, it basically hadn’t happened! Ah dear, yes as I write this now I can hear how silly it sounds!
Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far in my time away from those little squares.
- Life carries on!
I can confirm there is life on the other side of deleting the Instagram app from my phone. Shocker! Quite frankly no-one is now going to start disliking me because I’m not posting daily in my “6pm optimum likes time slot” (as my Insights feature once told me). Even if they did, I wouldn’t know about it since I’m not on the app to know. The passing of time continues, life carries on.
- I’m a more effective parent
I feel like a better parent when I’m not constantly checking Instagram and updating my stories/profile at every turn in the day. I’m more present moment to moment with my children (now I really get what people mean when they say that!). I find I can anticipate their upsets/clashes earlier and as a result can diffuse them sooner and have more patience for them. I also find that I can more authentically encourage my little ones to have less screen time when I’m following that same practice myself and can feel the benefits!
- My self-worth doesn’t come from Instagram
I know now more than ever that my self-worth comes from within. It is dangerous to put any amount of self-worth on the reaction I gain from a photo that I have chosen to post online! For me, my self-worth must come from who God says I am, coupled with the truths and affirmations I allow myself to believe about myself. When I take away needing man’s (and woman’s) approval, I allow my self-worth to be based on something which is everlasting. Something which needs no amount of likes to sustain. That alone has given me so much freedom these last few weeks.
- My creative brain functions better
I can feel my creative brain working better when I’m not constantly being fed images of what everyone else is doing and what everyone else likes! Of course Instagram is a great place to get inspired but my usage was bordering on a dependency. I was becoming confused as to what I actually like for myself. I strongly believe that we as humans were not created to have the amount of information in our brains that we currently are able to have access to. I found that my brain was so full of what everyone else liked that I didn’t have any space left to be imaginative and as much freedom to explore what I like.
- My friendships still continue
I have found that my real life friendships continue, I may not know every single detail of what has happened in a friend’s day, but I’m ok with that. I’ve found it has meant I’ve had more meaningful and personalised messages/emails/conversations with my friends. I would rather have a cuppa and a catch up with someone to find out how they’re doing than check their Instagram stories and presume to know.
- Other people feel the same
In coming off Instagram it has sparked conversations with people around me about the effect of social media on mental health. I’m not surprised to find that many other people do in fact feel similarly about some of these things I’ve mentioned. It’s been good to have real-life conversations about it and also reassuring to know that I’m not alone in my thoughts regarding all this!
- I have more time for GOD
The thing that instigated all of this was a call by my local church to fast. This traditionally means to forego food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with Jesus. To rely on Him for strength to get through the time of fasting. In my case I chose to fast from Instagram as I felt this would have much more of an impact and that in this case I would need to rely on God for mental strength and sustenance. Well let me tell ya, it’s not been without its challenges, but this time has definitely given me vast amounts of time to pray, read God’s truth in the Bible and reflect. It’s strengthened my faith and I have started to see breakthrough in areas of my life that I never expected, the first breakthrough has started with me.
So “will Instagram and Cat ever get back together?” I hear you cry! The answer “yes, probably at some point”. However everything I have learned in this time has shown me that I want to be smarter in the way I approach social media. I need to be conscious on a higher level of my usage and put my real life relationships first. It would benefit me to have some clear boundaries for myself, to refine my feed to those posts which are encouraging and to most definitely limit the time I spend scrolling.
Until next time.