Because it was pretty much taking over my life, is the short answer.
Alarm goes off – straight on Instagram, Snapchat and a scroll through Facebook. Light goes out at night – best have one more scroll to be sure I haven’t missed anything.
I’ve had Instagram for a long ass time, and for the most part used it as a kind of picture diary for myself, uploading images of parties, people and travels. Sometimes I’d go back through it to look at seriously fun times. It was fun! It was supposed to be fun.
Something changed along the way though, in that it became more than that to me, and became a numbers game.
I had a phase in the summer in which I tried to ‘theme’ my Instagram, uploading bordered, similarly filtered images, three times a day, with clever hashtags and formatting. It was so boring and limiting, and made absolutely no difference whatsoever to my engagement. If anything, it was worse because the images weren’t ‘real’ any more.
I’m not proud of it, but it got to the point where I was doing research to try and understand Instagram’s algorithms to figure out why my images weren’t doing as well as someone else’s.
And the long and short of it was, and still is – that actually, I really don’t care who looked at the images. I couldn’t give a shit whether Jim Bob from high school has seen my Saturday Night Out post and liked it or not. It wasn’t even about the people – it was about the numbers. And unfortunately, I was the only one in my weird, self-centred race.
The other issue of that was some serious stalking. I think it’s okay to dabble in some light stalking, we all do it to some extent, especially when people leave their lives so open online. However, when you’re 29 weeks into some bird’s photos you don’t even know, it’s time to step away from the smartphone, lady.
Going cold Turkey
Halfway through a bottle of wine, and having just had that heart-stopping moment of accidentally liking someone’s picture I wasn’t even following (maybe they won’t notice, surely they wont notice? Note: THEY’LL FUCKIN’ NOTICE, YOU DOUGHNUT), I deleted all of my social media apps.
Now, I’m clearly back on social media. You may not have even noticed I’d gone. However, the way I’m using it is a lot different now.
It was really hard, though. The next morning, I’d forgotten I’d done it and went to look at Instagram. Cold reality settling, I did something else. In fact, I ‘did something else’ a lot, whenever I found myself unlocking my phone for no other reason than to scroll through someone else’s life or post some picture for likes. I read the news, read a book, I wrote for my blog, I researched things for my new job, for travelling, for my health. I went for a ‘walk’ spontaneously for the first time in my life.
The first couple of days were tough, and what shocked me was the amount of times I’d have that urge to open an app. Any spare second and I’d go to open one. Over the course of the next couple of weeks though, I found myself thinking less and less of social media. I even watched an entire film through with Will, without having a sly scroll.
I do however, need social media, for my job, blog and general knowledge. I decided to reinstall and set myself limits. Ten minutes max, twice a day – no stalking whatsoever. To aid this, I did a massive unfollow / unfriend cull.
It has worked! I don’t scroll endlessly. I usually have a purpose and I am much more able to switch off.
So for now, I’m back. Still liking, still scrolling – but on a much smaller scale. And the numbers? Yeah, I might still post a selfie if I’m particularly feeling myself that day, but I realise that what’s important is whether I like the picture, not anyone else. I also know that some people think I’m beautiful and awesome no matter what – and that’s what I care about.