It's time for the annual IG Detox <3
It’s that magical time of the year where I drop off the grid for a month (or 2.5 months like last year).
I really didn’t think anyone would even notice that I had temporarily disabled my Instagram yesterday, but after having several people ask me if I blocked them or deleted my account, I figured it might not hurt to do a little write up about why I take a little break from the gram every year. I will preface this blog with a little note - I’ve had a love/hate relationship with social media in general for as long as I can remember. I used to think the platforms themselves were inherently bad until someone challenged why I thought that. It’s not Instagram’s fault that I use it as a social crutch, waste endless amounts of time & feel my self esteem taking a hit while looking at certain people’s feeds. Those responsibilities fall on my shoulders. I don’t think Instagram is bad or the problem, but how I use it & how much I use it gets pretty problematic - hence my decision to go off the grid for at least a month each year. This detox resets my personal habits & how I communicate with the people I love.
Here’s a little list of reasons I do this each year.
1. FOMO is a very real thing for me.
I cannot tell you how many nights I have ended up going out when all I wanted to do was stay in and dance to Beyonce in my house because I saw my friends having fun on someone’s Instagram story. It’s ridiculous when I type it out, but for some reason, seeing other people out & about when I’ve decided to stay in makes me feel like I’m going to miss the night of the year. I suppose it’s possible that a random Tuesday at the same dive bar we always go to could Cinderella its way into being the best night of my life, but most likely, I’ll just end up hating myself when I have to crawl out of bed for work on three hours of sleep.
2. I read into likes & comments on Instagram. Yes, I know it’s stupid, but owning something is the first step to fixing it, right?
I tip my hat to those self confident souls who don’t feel a little twinge of insecurity when someone doesn’t like a photo or when a post doesn’t soar into the liking heavens like you anticipated. I know it’s time for my annual reset when I catch myself checking my phone relentlessly right after I post something. I am convinced that most of us have people that we regularly keep tabs to see if they like photos or watch stories, and I’m wiling to bet each of you feels either a little better or a little worse after those people don’t double tap your latest Insta-masterpiece. Maybe not. Rock on if you don’t fall into this camp. I genuinely believe some people don’t care, and I wish I was one of you. Also, please write a book on how you’ve mastered the art of not caving to the want for social validation. I’ll be first in line to buy it.
3. I use social media as a crutch when I feel shy & uncomfortable.
Feeling awkward at a party? Scroll on my phone. Don’t feel like talking to my Uber driver? Scroll on my phone. Feeling uncomfortable in an elevator full of strangers? Scroll. On. My. Phone. I catch myself on Instagram as a default to curb social anxiety all the time. When did we all get so scared of other humans? Whether I’m with people I know or a room full of strangers, it never seems to fail that at least a quarter of the humans in the room at any given point are on their phones. I hate competing with a phone for someone’s attention. I catch myself doing this to other people and feel sick because whether we like it or not, it communicates that something else matters more than the people you’re with.
4. I waste a ridiculous amount of time on Instagram.
I probably could have picked up five languages by now if I had used every free moment I waste on Instagram on Rosetta Stone. Sometimes Instagram feels like a black hole. I dive in and somehow waste an hour doing nothing of importance. I'm especially guilty of this late at night when I should be trying to go to bed. Whoop whoop! Not only did I just waste an hour, I'm now wide awake from my phone's bright screen.
5. My work gets flavored by people's approval.
This annual reset helps me fall back in love with shooting because it makes me to stop creating things based on whether or not they'll get "liked." As an artist, I struggle to not cater my work to the court of public opinion from time to time. Do I have to curate & regulate the brands I manage? Absolutely, of course, duh. Should I be regulating or changing what I create for myself to win the approval of other people? Gross. No. I manage brands for a living. I don't have the time, energy or desire to manage myself as a brand. I'm a human who likes being dynamic. In real life, I get a little burst of joy watching people react to the fact that I don't really fall into a type. What's the natural result when someone: loves metal & club rap, works with brands ranging from politicians to musicians to natural health, was VP of a sorority, doesn't wear makeup one day, wears heels & a dress for no reason the next, does yoga, has a pink bedspread & fairy lights, collects rocks & has a bunch of tattoos? An inconsistent Instagram feed. Who cares if I post a weird gothic piece of mixed media art right after posting a photo that spews rainbows & kittens? I shouldn't. Who cares if people unfollow me because my feed isn't consistent? I shouldn't, but sometimes it's hard not to.
6. Instagram makes me lazy with personal relationships.
This one is the biggie for me. Raise your hand if you’ve slacked in the communication department with people you love because it’s easier to keep up with them online. I catch myself doing this all the time. I feel connected to people because I just liked their vacation photos or read their latest blog, but can’t seem to make the space to pick up the phone & call them. I also know how lonely it feels when people just keep up with me on a screen, but never seem to have the time for a relationship beyond our iPhones. I used to think my love languages were touch and words of affirmation, but in the last year, I’ve realized my love language is people making plans with me. My friend Tiffany puts it best - “I feel loved when I feel remembered.” Double tapping is easy. Commenting & DMing take a little more effort, but still fall in the novice bracket for relationship effort. When I don’t have the convenience of knowing exactly what someone’s up to from their social feeds, my word gets tested. We all make time for the things we care about most, and if I say I care about people, I need to make time for them.
Each of these reasons is good enough as a stand alone for me to take a step back from the gram, but put together, it feels like the only rational, sane choice. Why a month? Some movie told me that it takes 28 days to break a habit. No idea if that's actually accurate, but it seemed like a semi-attainable goal to stay off the gram for a month. I’ll see you on the screen sometime in early June. If you want to chill IRL, HMU.