10 Things That Happened When I Deleted Instagram
I'm in love with my Instagram-free life.
Hey hey. Hope you all had an amazing weekend. I just went for a large grocery haul and am finally sitting down to write. As you know, I’ve been out of the Instagram haze for about a month now. When I decided to stop, deleted my account, and got it out of my sight, I started to notice a lot of changes.
Not only did I notice this change within myself (for the better, obvi), but I noticed a lot about other people, now that I’m not the one reaching for my phone whenever food arrives at the table.
So if you’re thinking about deactivating your IG because it’s preventing you from functioning as your best self (def my situation), then keep reading as I explain the 10 things that happened when I deleted my Instagram and became “woke” to the world outside of it.
1. I realized how serious my addiction really is.
The first thing you’ll notice is that you have a lot more time on your hands (or at least it feels that way). I had so much time on my hands that I was almost frightened by it. How was I going to fill up this time? What was I missing on Instagram?
Even scarier, it became an instinct (as I’m sure it is for many people) to reach for my phone whenever I felt even a tinge of boredom. Now without Instagram to immediately scratch this itch, I would grab my phone, swipe around on my main screen, and put the phone back down. It made me straight up uncomfortable to know that I had to sit in my “nothing going on” zone for a while. Then I realized something.
I felt “nothing going on” a little too often.
It made me realize how much time Instagram had actually been sucking away from me on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps I had just been creating excuses to be bored just so I could have a reason to scroll mindlessly through Instagram (#yikes).
It’s scary to think about how much control social media had over my life. I don’t use Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat and never have those on my phone, so Instagram had been my main social app for years.
And all of a sudden I was cutting it cold turkey (which is honestly the only way to do it).
I noticed that my mind, no different than the mind of an addict, started creating scenarios for why I should re-activate my Instagram and feed this new, uncomfortable emptiness and boredom I was experiencing. I really thought that, by not being on Instagram, I was betraying people.
I also felt weird going places without letting Instagram know what I’m up to. My literal thought was, “Oh my god, I’m going out to this restaurant and no one is going to even know!—right?”
I thought people were going to assume that I blocked them. I felt I owed everyone an explanation for why I wasn’t a part of their online circle anymore.
If this sounds pathetic—that’s because IT IS.
I eventually stopped this rambling thought process. If people think I blocked them and really didn’t have the nuts to text me or FB Message me (the ONLY real reason I keep a FB account anymore), then that’s their problem. That’s the issue with social media, we make so many assumptions about how others feel about us, and we don’t even have the courage to reach out and see if we’re right! Again- pathetic.
2. I Noticed All The Other Zombies Around Me Performing Very Strange Rituals
Now that I’ve had 30 days away from the app, I’ve noticed how much it was taking away from my life. I wake up next to my fiance and see him immediately reach for his phone and start the zombie routine that I know all too well. He starts tapping through other people’s stories, living their lives, seeing the food they ate, the water they swam in, the beach they were on, the friends they were with, the workouts they did (and I know for a fact he doesn’t care about half of this stuff). He spends about 30 minutes of his waking up time watching other people’s photos they think are important and necessary to spread. But is it really necessary? And will watching their lives make mine any different?
Since being off of Instagram, I noticed a LOT of disturbing things like this. The one thing that really gets to me is the food one. You’re out to dinner with a bunch of friends and the food comes out and it’s basically another two minutes before anyone even touches their food because they need to take a photo of the food to post to Instagram. Trust me—when you’re the only person whose phone is in her purse and you’re watching this ritual happen, it can be very alien-feeling. Then you think, “Oh my God is that what I looked like when I used to do that?”
This leads me to my next point.
3. I Started To Value (And Crave) Real Human Interaction
Once I stopped DMing people and posting friend-greedy comments on people’s stories and photos, I’m not gonna lie, I felt lonely. It’s a lonely world we live in nowadays in this culture of social media. Humans are not meant to talk through a screen. It’s not natural—as I discovered while watching a Minimalist Youtube video the other day (Youtube has become my new favorite thing post-IG, by the way). Having a serious discussion with someone over text (and even Facetime) is NOT the same as having that same discussion in person. You don’t have the bodily cues (even facial cues) that are necessary for our brains to color in the complete context of a conversation. So it’s no wonder that people feel more and more lonely even though ways of communication have grown more and more vast.
To fight my newfound loneliness, I started reaching out to friends to spend time with them. I joined a book club in my neighborhood through my favorite neighborhood app. I started making time to visit my family more. I have a friend who I call on the phone (not quite “in person,” but better than text) almost every single day. When I see people, I actually learn about what they’ve been up to since I last saw them. Important: The reason I’m not caught up and can have a meaningful, genuine “catch up” talk is because I haven’t been scoping their social media updates. I literally can’t. I DON’T HAVE INSTAGRAM. So you’re going to have to actually fill me in on what I’ve missed!
4. I Started To Notice The World Outside My Phone
Have you ever waited in line for something? Like a LONG line? What did you do during that wait? I bet you pulled your socials out and started browsing, huh?
Well once you don’t have that crutch to fall back on anymore, it’s actually a really pleasant activity to just wait. You might look around and see the people waiting with you. Maybe you’ll strike up a conversation with them. Maybe you’ll look at the trees instead, or read some signs. Maybe you’ll turn on a podcast while you wait, or listen to an audiobook, or pull out an actual book and start catching up on some reading. It’s amazing what happens when you plug out of other people’s lives and really see what’s happening in your own. To observe life in its raw form is actually quite beautiful if you pull yourself out of your phone long enough to contemplate the world around you. And your neck starts to feel better too, not having to assume that achey “texting” posture all the god damn time.
Look around, look up, look out, and observe your world, knowing that you don’t have to share your observation with anyone anymore.
5. I Had A More Functional Phone
After the first week of picking up my phone hundreds of times to “check” Instagram, only to see that it wasn’t there anymore—I got over it. I eventually started to relax more. And then, my phone started feeling more functional, like a tool, instead of an obligation.
In addition to deleting Instagram, I actually combed through my notification settings and really silenced just about everything except my re-selling apps, my phone calls, and my texts. Now I have a more functional phone that exists to serve me, not the other way around. I’m no longer a slave to social media, and I go to my phone now with a more intentional mindset than ever before. I don’t even pick up my phone to take photos anymore. You know why? There’s nowhere I need to post them!
The only time I take photos now is if I intend to send it to someone or just keep it in my photo album as a nice memory. I’m no longer taking photos out of obligation, as I once did. You know the kind of photos I’m talking about—the “Oh, my food just came out and all of a sudden we think food is so gorgeous!” photos; or the #ootd photos; or the #nomakeup challenge pics; the “Finally laying out to tan this summer!” stories; and I’m sure you can fill in the rest with your own examples.
Once you don’t have a platform to post these unnecessary photos, you start to realize that they were never really THAT important to begin with. They might not have meant anything to you other than to serve as a vehicle on the road to more “likes” and “comments.”
I no longer need to scroll through Instagram to quell my boredom. I discovered that it’s good to be bored. It makes your brain look for other more functional ways to fill its time. And this leads me to the rest of my list.
6. I Got More Done
I can’t put it any more simply than that. You just get more done when you don’t have your nose in your phone all the time. You know the iPhone “screen time” tracker? Well my screen time since deleting Instagram and making my phone more functional has gone down drastically. It’s amazing what one app was doing to my productivity.
If you don’t know this about me already, hi, I’m Gitana and I’m addicted to bullet journaling. However, while I was putzing about Instagram day in and day out, I completely let my poor BuJo fall by the wayside. After the IG delete I started watching Youtube more and came across a video on how to make my BuJo more “intentional” and functioning better for me. Now I use it all the time for just about everything. I jot down notes in it, write down my weekly schedule, my to-do lists for the day, the shows I’m watching- even ideas for this blog! I have more time to do this now because I’m not worried about the next photo I’m going to post to Instagram, or worried about how the photo needs to be edited BEFORE I post it to Instagram (God what a horror show.).
I started getting errands done. I started waking up in the morning and not reaching for my phone, but getting up to make a coffee and get to work on my to-do’s for the day. I get the laundry done. I watch more Youtube videos and educate myself! I READ MORE (best part).
You get the picture.
7. I Worked/Hustled Harder
I currently wear a number of hats when it comes to employment (can’t beat the kind of flexibility I have right now), and when I was obsessing over Instagram, it took time away from my work goals.
I may not have thought this was true at the time, but now that I’m IG Free (Say it. Spread it.) I find myself hustling even harder with work and taking on way more opportunities when they present themselves, rather than letting them pass me by. I’ve gotten way more hungry now for employment opportunities and devising ways to make money. It’s a new obsession of mine that’s way healthier than the previous one, that’s for sure.
8. I Started Learning More Things
I can’t tell you guys enough how much time I spend just straight up CONSUMING KNOWLEDGE. I’ve always been a knowledge junkie and love learning new concepts, skills, trivia bits, etc.. During my Instagram haze, however, I was too busy wasting time to make time for reading or learning new things.
Can you imagine? I had an Instagram account completely dedicated to books and wasn’t even reading!
Lately I’ve been absorbed in informational Youtube videos, podcasts, books, and Pinterest (for inspiration—don’t worry I make Pinterest function for me, too). It’s been really nice getting to learn more information about topics that interest me. For instance, I’ve actually become really fascinated by personal finance management and have so many books that I can’t wait to read all about investing, saving, debt management, etc. I’ve also been watching TONS of Youtube videos and listening to a lot of podcasts about personal wealth and financial freedom.
Knowledge is power, and the more I learn about different things, the more I become marketable to people in my network. I was out with a friend the other night and met her friend and we just started going on and on about personal finance and investing and I was able to talk about the subject for about 15 straight minutes!
If you had approached me on the subject just one month ago I would have been silent and embarrassed, sitting there not able to contribute to the conversation. By knowing a lot about a little, not only do you give off an intelligent/well-rounded first impression, but you’re also able to build on top of the knowledge you have already gained by being able to have the discussion in the first place!
9. My Creativity Skyrocketed
See this blog? Yeah, this wouldn’t have happened if I had still been on Instagram. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve started and abandoned. The amount of money I’ve wasted on domains and servers would raise an eyebrow or two. All because trying to integrate a blog with social media was too much, extremely overwhelming. It became less about creating content and more about how I was going to get others to “follow” it.
I came up for the idea for this blog literally in the shower. I was learning so many new things about finance, books, self-care, and organization that I was sharing with friends any chance I got. But that wasn’t enough. I want to reach more people and show them how they can function better using the same knowledge I’ve discovered. Whether that’s a philosophy, a method I’ve tried that’s worked (or not!), or an app I’m using that’s really helping me with something I’m going through, I want to share that with people. And I want to hear their ideas as well. I think collaborating groups are better than flying solo—thus this blog was made!
Also, I wouldn’t have wanted to create a blog to share info if I was stuck on IG and not learning anything new.
When you go IG free, you need to fill your time with things, and creating something is such a great feeling, that it’s an easy way to fill your newfound free time with! Whether you paint or blog or knit or make software, creating is a fulfillment that most of us don’t get to experience if we’re stuck in our socials worrying about what the rest of the world is doing and who to follow.
10. I Started To Truly Experience
This one kind of sums up everything I’ve said thus far. In letting go of a virtual experience (which, what is that really?), you’re opting into real experience. You can learn new things, teach people new things, think of “standing in line” or “the food arriving at the table” in a completely new way, hustle even harder and make that money, read a book and really dive into the content, get coffee with a friend, INSPIRE OTHERS TO TAKE YOUR IG FREE JOURNEY WITH YOU.
That’s just scratching the surface of what you can do once you untether yourself from social media, notifications, pings, DMs. You become sought after when you are no longer seeking to fill your empty vessel with other people’s experiences long enough to create your OWN experiences to share with people- REAL PEOPLE. Not virtual people who throw you “likes” just so you can engage with their content, up their stats, boost their algorithm, and whatever else.
Are you ready to that the first step to being IG free? What would you do with your newly discovered free time? What internal dialogue is keeping you from cutting the cord?
Originally published at http://www.simplygitana.com on October 7, 2019.