Rejoin reality: quit Instagram

Sofia Heller

Over a year ago, I decided to delete my Instagram account.

Throughout that time, people have often assumed that my parents are imposing their rules on me. My friends have constantly asked me if I have seen a certain post on Instagram, and after remembering that I don’t have one, proceed to nag me about making a new account. The idea that I would voluntarily delete my account, and actively continue to stay off of Instagram, seems unfathomable.

The choice was a result of my spending hours trying to perfectly edit a photo of my friends and me before selecting the best one to post. I wish I could say that this was the first time I launched into a frenzy over a picture I wanted to post on Instagram.

Unfortunately, my unrelenting obsessiveness did not only pertain to the act of posting a picture––the anxiety was constant.

Whether I was on the app or not, at least a small part of my mind was always fixated on the “perfect Instagram.” Traveling and weekend expeditions became about taking an “Insta-worthy” picture, which entailed more than just an attractive setting.

It had to be aesthetically pleasing with the rest of my pictures, or “go with my flow.” I began to see the world through eyes that were continually scanning their surroundings with a quality Instagram snapshot in mind.

Aside from Instagram leading to both exhaustion and detachedness, I recognized that I was using the app as a tool of self-deprecation and fueling insecurities I had developed.

Opening the app presented endless opportunities to compare myself to others and convince myself that they were thriving while I remained stagnant.

I realized that aside from Instagram being an issue of addiction, it was also damaging my confidence—I was determining my self-worth based on the amount of followers I accumulated and likes I received.

With the hope that I would rejoin reality, I confirmed that, yes, I really did want to delete my Instagram account.

From that point on, I was no longer trapped in a world of judgement––instinctively judging others and always preparing to be judged.

I didn’t fear evaluation of my character based on a small picture in the upper left corner of my profile or the quality of my editing skills. My value did not stem from how successfully I maintained a facade on an app. It was freeing.

Slowly but surely, I became more aware of the details in my surrounding environment and better able to be present in the moment. When I looked at a sunset over the ocean, I didn’t see a piece of a growing Instagram “flow” or prospective likes and comments.

My desire to introduce myself to new people was not a means of growing my number of followers, and I felt increasingly at ease when holding conversations and engaging with others.

A part of my mind constantly buzzing with angst was now, for the most part, at liberty from the obligation to be perceived well.

It has been over a year since I deleted my Instagram account, and I am not planning on creating a new one anytime soon. I enjoy the peace––unhindered by the upkeep of an online front and blissfully ignorant of the daily on-goings of others.

Weekend expeditions are about exploring, looking at a sunset over the ocean is about the beauty of the world, and all the while my phone remains comfortably in my pocket.