It’s been over three months since my last post on Instagram. While I didn’t delete my account, my husband and I both decided to delete the app from our phones in May, and some of you have asked for an update about how things have gone. I’ll share some of the pros and cons of signing off social media and then what I’ve decided to do going forward. I’m actually surprised at where I’ve ended up. Taking a break has made it much easier to find a solution to the problem of feeling numb and detached from all the scrolling, likes, and followers.
(for kicks I’ve added a few super-filtered Instagrams from my first week with an iPhone about five years ago)
The Good News
I really loved not trying to capture our life and share it with other people in the moment. No longer do I worry about taking a picture of a beautiful latte or a bouquet of flowers. I don’t feel stressed about sharing snapshot moments of my kids that are super sweet. I’ve realized I don’t need the likes or comments on special dates or the highlights of everyday because they are already special, already highlights to me. I feel like I can be more present in those moments with the ones I love now that this invisible pressure is gone.
Captions stressed me out. For several reasons, trying to come up with a witty, memorable, spot-on caption is something I could agonize over. In fact, most of the time I spent on Instagram before was probably typing and deleting captions. For me, blogging is a much better way to express most of my big ideas or how-tos, and like I said already, trying to shrink down super tender moments with my family into a bite-size caption felt trite (to me! I love how good some people are at doing this, it just doesn’t come naturally to me).
The older my kids have gotten, the less I want to share them online. (Again, this is totally my preference and comfort level and I realize that is different for all parents.) I felt this internal struggle because a lot of our far-away family follow us online to see our kids and family, but I also have grown a proportionally greater following who don’t know us personally, but read my blog or knew me from The Influence Network. (And then of course there are strangers who just stumble on your social media account and follow you, which is disconcerting at times.) I was posting things to appeal to both groups. As soon as I deleted Instagram, it was much easier for me to realize that sharing about my kids online has started to feel uncomfortable. I knew deep down I didn’t want to write about them directly, but it was harder for me to realize that regarding Instagram because of how much my aunts and cousins and mom liked seeing those pictures.
I was using Instagram to document my iPhone photos. Now I print photo books. I LOVE them. The kids LOVE them. My family can look at them when they visit. I’m totally up to date with our family photos thanks to all that extra time on my hands not spent caption-ing. I don’t feel stressed if our phones would crash, because I have the photos saved and printed. This is such an improvement on documenting our family, I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me to see those albums on my shelf instead of in my feed.
The Honest Truth
Zach and I both still browsed our Instagram pages. After a solid two months totally off, it was super refreshing to break the addiction of scrolling. Also, you don’t miss that much if you take some time off. That’s so lovely to learn! And we realized that we never closed the app and thought, “Yes! That was such a good use of my time.” or “Yes! I’m so much better off for having read that!”
But then we went away for a weekend to Nashville, and we both caved to check for new pictures of the kids while their grandparents watched them. Plus, I missed seeing two things: some of my favorite Instagram feeds and the updates from my close friends and family. During the past month, I’ve occasionally checked those specific pages.
All this has made me realize I’m not quite ready to delete my Instagram account. It feels ok to hop back on again with a whole new perspective on what I would want to post and a whole new set of healthy boundaries. Here’s what that looks like:
- Instagram will look a lot more like my blog. Outfits, book recommendations, home ideas, recipes and favorite things.
- Less time captioning.
- Less time scrolling.
- Less focus on followers and likes.
This is pretty seriously spelled out, probably because I’d gotten to an unhealthy place with Instagram before. If you’ve felt that too, and wondered if you could ever delete that social media account once you started using it, here’s my take on it:
First, I’d say – YES, take a break! It’s so refreshing and you can retrain your brain from the addictive pathways that develop when you scroll.
Second, it’s super worthwhile to pay attention to what specifically was causing the problem. Instagram is simply a tool – neither good nor bad – unless you make it that way. My problem was posting the wrong thing, worrying about captions, and if other people “liked me” or “knew me” based on what I shared. Once I could isolate that, Instagram has the potential to be fun again!
If you are on Instagram, come say hi! I’d be happy to reconnect. If you have any questions about our social media break, please feel free to ask.