I fucking did it. Well kind of.
Disdain for social media at this point is almost universal. I’d estimate that most of us use it begrudgingly, only because we want to be wired into something.
A bevy of wellness studies in recent years try to correlate the quality of mental health to the usage of social media in individuals, but I have reservations. One, everyone uses social media to their own purpose, and they may not all be in the toxic sense. In our digital lives, sharing a few key moments with close friends and faded acquaintances is great, you might find out something you didn’t know about someone. Or it gives you a great reason to not text “what’s up?”. But I had this creeping feeling that my mental health wasn’t as great as I believed. As someone who is managing moderate anxiety, FOMO popped up on a daily basis. Sometimes I’d make a social media post just to get some sort of interaction from people.
artwork by Liana Finck
In 2019, I started taking steps to assess my relationship with my digital reality, which in some ways contributed to my exit from social media:
In late 2019 around the holidays, a few of my friends had already gotten rid of their Instagram accounts or at least stopped using them. When they were discussing their positive experiences, I had my doubts. I wasn’t sure that the tradeoffs were good, in the sense that you’d be left out of things, moments that only surface on this application.
Mulling over the idea for a few weeks, I suspended (note - not full deletion) my account and its been a whole month since. Here’s a few takeaways from my experience thus far:
It’s only been a month, so initial findings and results might stem from any sort of placebo effect or afterglow. The main side-effect I was worried about would be losing out on a social life but that hasn’t happened… yet.
Is there anything learned from this past month with no Instagram? Not really, while it does feel like a significant amount of weight has been shed, unsure how this would affect my mental health or relationships.