Are you addicted to Instagram and other social media?
A few months ago, I was giving a friend shit for crafting Instagram stories for all his friends to see and envy. He turned to me and said, “you know what, I don’t know why I do it. It doesn’t make me feel very good.” To which I responded, “then stop.” It was all banter. His retort? “I don’t think I can. I’m addicted.”
I think we’re all addicted on some level. I’m certainly guilty. That hit of dopamine is often too difficult to pass up.
I too feel like a tool when I share for the sake of sharing. It often has me questioning what it is I’m looking for? Do I need validation from others that badly? Am I trying to prove my life is awesome, or worse, am I trying to trick myself into believing it’s better than it really is?
While I’ve never been a prolific player in the IG game, I can confirm that whatever I seek, I certainly don’t find. And that’s only half the problem.
I can handle questioning my sanity after sharing a spontaneous story of dogs stuck together after they hump. What I can’t make peace with is the amount of time I waste mindlessly scrolling or engaging with stories that add little value to my life while contributing greatly to my procrastination and the stress arising from it.
Countless studies identify Instagram as the worst app for your mental health. And countless more highlight just how deadly social media is for overall mental health which is evident in the sharp rise of anxiety, depression, and suicide rates. Particularly amongst the iGeneration.
These apps are designed to make addicts of all of us. We now spend, on average, a day on our phones a week. The psychological damage of this, when compounded over time, is unfathomable.
Instagram fucks a lot of people up. In many different ways.
It’s a bag of lies for a start. Everything is manipulated or touched up to induce envy while making peers and consumers feel less about themselves. Then you’ve got that Kardashian tit selling appetite suppressing lollipops to impressionable teenage girls because apparently, she needs the money. And I’ve lost count of the wannabe prophets insisting they know exactly how everybody else should be living their lives. Not to mention trolls and cyber bullies.
Very few win compared to those who lose. And those who win place all blame on the individual. Not the platform. Yes, their argument that you need to control your consumption is true, but try telling that to a junkie!
That’s why I’m beginning to believe the best way to consume is not to consume at all because it is incredible how much time and other benefits you stand to gain by removing these apps from your life. Time that could be spent creating a life that you love.
After reading “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport, I decided to take him up on a variation of his proposed 30-day digital detox.
First, I deleted Instagram and Facebook from my phone. I also installed a newsfeed eradicator on my laptop so I would only see activity in a Facebook group associated with work. Besides that, I had zero interaction.
I didn’t have withdrawals — no sweats or palpitations. My alcohol consumption didn’t increase, and I didn’t turn to any other substances to fill some void in my life.
I needed the void. I needed the space. And I certainly needed the solitude.
There’s a lot of I’s in this post because it’s based on my experience. Ask yourself what you could be doing that’s important to you if you were to take the challenge on?
These are just a few of my observations:
I FELT LIBERATED
If I’m actively looking, I’m passively thinking, “do I need to play the game and should I be posting content?” This takes energy. And it doesn’t take a genius to realize it’s wasted energy.
I write. I don’t do photos. Just knowing I didn’t have to deal with the headache of posting as well as the inconvenience of being seduced by it all was incredibly liberating.
By removing the option. I removed the problem. And I liked it.
I WAS LESS JUDGEMENTAL
I’d swear the creators of these apps are arsonists who set out to build an incinerator that will burn for all eternity. And one of the ways they’ve achieved this is by tapping into one of our greatest weaknesses: Judgement
Even the most non-judgemental people I know are judgemental. I’m no different. I might be worse because I’ve continued to follow accounts of people that speak in extremes to evoke a reaction for no other reason that it fuels my rage.
It also fuels my writing and creativity. I’ve told myself I need it. But I don’t. I’m more than capable of finding things that piss me off without having to rely on social media to serve it on a platter.
There was a dude on the shortcut in traffic yesterday on one of those annoyingly loud bikes constantly revving his exhaust, top off, a yellow leather bum bag around his neck, and leather gloves to protect his precious hands from callusing. I wanted to drop kick that motherfucker into the ditch. Material. Everywhere.
Life is way better when we conserve energy by cutting down on our judgements of others.
I WAS MORE PRESENT
Most of the time, my phone wasn’t an issue. Therefore, when I was sitting down to dinner or hanging out with friends, my mind wasn’t drifting towards the pocket which contained my phone.
Because I didn’t have access to my two biggest crutches, I had a tendency to enjoy my life more. It’s crazy I know, but crazy shit happens when you’re more present.
I READ FOUR BOOKS
Reading is peaceful. I often struggle to find the time, or I’m too wound up to enjoy it. It drives me mad. I find physical books removed from all technology offer the best experience. And with highlighter in hand, there’s no end to the inspiration and wisdom I pick up which filters through to the words that I write.
I LAUNCHED A COPY (WRITING) SHOP
I’ve been studying and writing copy for a long time. I love it. I’ve also toyed with the idea of setting up my own shop for a long time. I procrastinated. And with literally nothing to do in the bathroom but that which I’m supposed to do, I allocated some time to creating The Crispy Copy Shop where the focus is on connecting you with your customers through story.
And before I knew it, I had two clients.
If the words on your website aren’t producing the results you want—book a free consultation here.
I RECORDED AND LAUNCHED A PODCAST
This was another project I pondered and procrastinated on for too long. Before I knew it, I had three episodes recorded and an email from Apple podcasts informing the “No BS Anxiety Talk Show” was approved. What happens next, I have no clue. Early signs point to a disaster.
It might be a flop. It might not. Regardless, it feels good to tick it off the list. And it was actually fun. The second episode that is. The first not so much.
MY BUSINESS PERFORMED BETTER
For whatever reason, I attracted more clients than ever before. Maybe it’s because one of the books I read was “As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen and I tapped into some of that voodoo shit, who knows? I hope it’s down to the seeds I planted a long time ago starting to flourish. Either way, I get to work with more and more amazing people and help them to navigate the bastard that is anxiety.
There you have just some of the highlights. There were many more. But I think you get the point. It’s not like I’m sitting on a fucking throne because I didn’t log in to Instagram for a month. I certainly haven’t turned into some overnight success, but I believe in the law of compound interest where tiny tweaks can have major implications over a prolonged period. And sometimes just trying things is a success in itself regardless if it ends up being a failure.
I also feel pretty darn content knowing I got up off my ass and followed through on some of the stuff I’ve been procrastinating on for way too long. And that feels a hell of a lot more satisfying than sacrificing my time to apps that offer little value in return.
The biggest takeaway for me is to keep focused on doing my work, ensuring my clients are all satisfied, and the people closest to me enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. That’s the shit that matters. Friendships come and go. You can’t cling to them all.
Social Media will still play a role. I’ll probably even share this article on Instagram. But an app with a track record for having catastrophic consequences on mental health is an app I don’t see worthy of much attention.
And while it’s none of my business how you live your life or where you hang out online, if you too feel you might be battling a slight addiction with these bastards, then maybe it’s time to consider your own 30-day digital detox?