In the past few years social media has mostly developed into a platform of negativity, it seemed to start as an exciting opportunity to connect with people all over the world, but recently I think we have started questioning whether it has become something that actually makes us feel bad about ourselves. It is constantly intertwining within our day-to-day life, outfits are advertised as ‘Instagram worthy’ and our popularity has seemingly become proportional to the amount of followers we have.
Social media is supposed to help you connect with others but this is not a healthy connection, you don’t really know how other people feel through a screen. It is much better to actually see and talk to those close to you and do something together or have a phone call – you are reaching out to them in a positive way. Your real friends will do the same.
Instagram in particular wasn’t making me feel good about myself, so this week I decided to deactivate my Instagram account and I am really glad I did. Deactivation is a temporary way of hiding your account until you log back in again, but deleting is permanent. I decided to deactivate to start with, to see how I got on, but I don’t believe I will be getting Instagram back any time soon.
I decided to take a break due to a number of reasons:
1. Negativity of others
I didn’t follow many people – only people I had been friends with, but most of these ‘friends’ didn’t make me very happy when I knew them, and so seeing their posts didn’t make me happy either. Seeing other people ‘having fun’ creates this idea that other people’s lives are almost perfect, when this is not the case. I have come to the conclusion that I would rather spend time by myself, having fun than with others who bring me down. I felt unable to unfollow these people as I thought I would offend them. Even as I put a post up saying I would deactivate my account, I felt as if I should leave it up as long as possible so that all of my followers would see it before my account was deactivated so they wouldn’t think that I had blocked them.
2. Time-consuming habit
I wasn’t feeling much joy by picking up my phone and scrolling through other people’s pictures. You waste so much time in this way, I would click on Instagram fairly automatically, if I was bored or waiting – it just became a habit. It is unfair to the consumer that these sites are designed to be addictive.
3. Network effect
Others are on so I felt that I had to be on it. Everyone is constantly posting on Instagram and you feel as if you can’t miss anything. It is annoying to feel controlled by a platform in this way.
4. Perfection of photographs
I felt as if I had to take photographs of anything that looked nice to post on Instagram – the amount of times I thought ‘that looks nice, I will take a picture’ rather than just admiring it. It also started to become a competition of who could have the best pictures.
What I have learnt:
Since taking a break I have realised that Instagram isn’t at all important, you don’t miss anything other than the unhappiness that it causes. I was too focused on pleasing other people and trying to take really good photos to compensate for the fact that my life isn’t perfect – nobody’s life is. I don’t have to be on it because others are on it, in fact now I have taken a step back, I am more aware of the impact of social media on everyone else’s lives as well as my own, people are constantly on it and it is very hard to break that cycle unless you make a decisive effort to stop.
I feel as if I have one less thing to worry about and more time to do something that I actually enjoy like reading a book or watching a film. I can be kinder to myself and focus less on what other people are doing.
Blogging is a more positive and productive way to spend my time and hopefully I help others to feel more positive too. I also still have Facebook where I am only connected with my family members, and Snapchat to talk with my sister but I keep these private for just sharing with my family and I find this to be my preferred way of using social media.
If your social media accounts are making you unhappy too – deactivate or delete them, it will definitely help you to be more positive and feel better about yourself.