I deleted my Instagram account last week.
[WARNING: long post with occasional coarse language ahead]
You’ll probably think this is interesting given my previous post on the truth of how I take my photos for Instagram. Perhaps the post was foreboding. While it was probably something I had thought about on and off for the last month or so, the last couple of weeks really set me on the path to making deleting my Instagram account reality.
Without going into too much detail (because I do like to keep certain aspects of my life private) I work closely with young adults, mainly 18-21 year olds, and one of the challenges my colleagues and I have had in the last couple of years is how to engage with a highly connected (and highly distracted) group of Gen Z and Millenial students. A talk we recently attended at work gave us an understanding of the impact social media has had on these students and how it has changed their perception of the world, their interactions amongst themselves, the reasons for their hyper-connectedness, and what that means for us trying to imbue knowledge into them.
In short what I found out – what we found out – was depressing. That although these generations were extremely connected with one another on social media, it also meant that their attention and their engagement was intrinsically linked with what was happening on their phones. That they felt extreme stress if they weren’t able to access their phones or even just sit quietly in a room without looking at their phone, because it meant they had FOMO – fear of missing out. That their meaning of achievement was being able to have a carefully curated feed on Instagram or keep a streak alive on Snapchat.
This had been playing on my mind for days afterwards, but the irony of it was that I was spending a lot of time myself on Instagram trying to engage with other users and accounts to get my numbers up. I had recently started a blogger course (one which I’ve now given up) to try and get this blog and my social media off the ground, and potentially monetise (ugh how I hate that word) some opportunities. One of the tips the course suggested was to follow and like as many accounts and posts as I could so that I could gain some new followers and likes for myself. This meant potentially spending 10 minutes of every hour (if possible) jumping on Instagram and double clicking and following randomly. Consequently I found myself scrolling through my feed at any opportunity while the kids watched TV or played with their toys – but as you know, Instagram is a vortex, and sometimes I was on the phone for more than 10 minutes. It was taking up a lot more time and effort than what I had originally intended.
In addition, I found myself increasingly unhappy with my clothes and my outfit choices; based on all that time I spent scrolling through my feed, I knew what Instagram liked and didn’t like. When I found myself one morning, standing in front of my closet, hating every single item in there because I couldn’t find an outfit that I thought would be popular on Instagram (and in the meantime the two children were chasing one another and jumping on our bed), I came to and asked myself “What the actual fuck are you doing?”
Why the fuck should I care if Instagram won’t like my beloved Smashing Pumpkins band t-shirt that husband had hunted down and bought for me a few years ago? Why the fuck should it matter to me that Instagram doesn’t like a particular combination of clothes that I’ve put together? Why the flying fuck am I worried that Instagram saw this outfit last week? Why was it that I was stressing myself out because I knew I needed to post a perfectly styled photo on Instagram? As Sweet Brown so eloquently and succinctly put it:
Finally, last week, I had noticed my follower numbers slowly dwindling. Sure, my photos aren’t great, and sometimes my outfits weren’t “on point”, but hey life gets in the way, coffee gets spilled on your clothes, whatever right? One day I noticed I had lost 20 followers overnight.
My first thought was, what the hell have I done wrong? I knew that there are services out there that follow Instagram accounts for you (so they follow you back and therefore quickly increase your Instagram followers), and then unfollow after a certain period of time. But this thought didn’t occur at the time. There are also websites that allow you to buy likes on Instagram, but that would just make me feel like a fraud!
My second thought was, why the hell should I care that I lost followers? What have I become?
I had become one of my students.
I had become obsessed with numbers, with creating a feed that really didn’t reflect who I was and the life I actually lead.
And little moments like my three year old rolling her eyes and asking “Why are you taking another photo Mummy?” as I took yet another picture after being unhappy with the umpteenth previous ones. The ever patient Instagram Husband taking bazillion photos because I wanted that perfect shot of that Instagram worthy outfit.
I did not want to lead my life like this.
This is just my personal opinion of how I felt being on Instagram, and I know I could have done other things than quit Instagram altogether. But at this point I felt this was the best thing to do for me.
Will I ever go back to Instagram? Possibly, but in a different way. There are many people I followed on Instagram that I’ll miss now that I’ve deleted my account (shout out to Ruth from My Little Nest and Julieth from The Unbosom) so there’s that too.
However, the moment I hit “delete account” on my phone I actually did feel a weight off my shoulders, because it meant that I didn’t have to think about my follower numbers and whether or not they liked my outfits and photos. That I could wear that beloved Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt with my incredibly daggy mum jeans and Converses and be pretty fucking comfy – and happy.
(If you’ve made it this far in the post, thank you so much! I will still blog here when I can and share my DIYs and personal style with sustainability and thriftiness in mind – I just won’t be using Facebook and Instagram anymore to promote the blog. Please do follow me on Pinterest as I will continue to pin my daily outfits there, and you can also follow me on Bloglovin or subscribe to receive email updates. While I haven’t sent an email for a long time I will be refining this and making it more than just a roundup of my posts! And a huge THANK YOU to my regular readers, you’re the reason why I am still here on the blog!)