The dawn of a new year entreats us to cast aside all negative relationships in our lives, and I can’t think of a more addictive yet deeply unsatisfying attachment than that I have harboured for Instagram. Fresh for 2019, I’ve finally took the plunge and deleted my account for good – an idea I’d been grappling with for a while. Frankly, I can’t believe it has taken this long and how anti-climactic the procedure actually felt.
My obsession with Instagram began circa 2013. Back then I was posting almost daily, only to be neurotically deleting most photographs within a week, ‘pruning’ to a compulsive degree. I’d like to say I’d moved past this on entering adulthood, but, pathetically, my Instagram habits never really changed in 5 years. (This excludes a brief interlude lying low from the Insta-scene; I’d frantically pressed SELF DESTRUCT on my first account after accidentally liking a shirtless photo of a friend’s older brother from 4 years previous. I exiled myself for a total of 10 days, just enough time to live down the embarrassment before getting back on that Insta-horse with a brand-spanking-new profile.)
I was fully aware of the effects Instagram had on my anxiety levels, yet I couldn’t stop using it. My behaviour was utterly toxic whilst simultaneously intoxicating, and I knew I wasn’t alone in experiencing this. In a casual study of 12 female friends’ behaviour on social media, undertaken for a different article, ¾ of them said they look at certain profiles with either the active or subconscious motive of comparing themselves to other women. Despite what our ego may tell us, this never promotes self-esteem or happiness in the long run. On the contrary, it encourages judgement and narcissism in one hand, with jealousy, resentment and self-loathing in the other.
I understand for a lot of people Instagram really is just a trivial means of sharing photos, but for a perfectionist or anyone with an ounce of insecurity – it’s lethal. The reasons for this are so blindingly obvious: comparison, fear of missing out, information overload etc. etc. Indeed, I imagine that to many people I’m preaching to the converted.
Yet, so few people choose to quit Instagram. When my housemate recently announced she had deleted her account on a whim after watching a dystopia-style video on the dangers of techno-dependence, I was in awe. Was it really that easy? While permanently disabling my account then seemed too drastic, I committed to a two-week detox. This started well, but slowly deteriorated. Even though I’d deleted the app, the ease with which I could open Instagram in Safari or on my laptop made it near impossible to steer clear of and I was soon sucked back into the vortex. Until now!
I think a combination of factors have finally led me to delete my Instagram account for good. I’ve been ill and out of action for a large portion of Michaelmas term and the Christmas holidays; my boredom and consequent dependency on Instagram were slowly driving me insane. Being ill, although an actual nightmare in my final year, also made me appreciate aspects of life that I usually take for granted. Simple things I haven’t been able to do like chatting with housemates during a library break or feeling the satisfaction of meeting a deadline are things I want to feel 100% present for in 2019. Deactivating my Instagram account is a good way of ensuring this!
Additionally, the thought of entering the real world and my new job this summer also made me realise there will be more pressing matters in life than whether my next Insta-upload matches the current motif I’ve been aiming to sustain. It sounds ridiculous, but I’m genuinely looking forward to life without Instagram. Here’s to 2019!