Instagram can easily be a sinister app that can consume our every spare moment if we let it. It is designed to be highly addictive and to keep you consuming its content for as long as possible which ultimately results in more advertising dollars for Facebook (which has owned Instagram since 2012). While there is nothing inherently wrong with using the app and while it has many benefits, it is important for our well-being and peace of mind to keep our usage in check.
If you are struggling with your relationship to Instagram or any social media, I encourage you to listen to my conversation on our Wonderfully Made podcast with author Jessica Fralin titled “Cultivating a Healthier Relationship with Social Media” on our website or via iTunes. Jessica has a grace-filled approach to using social media and offers some practice advice for protecting your well-being online.
Here are some things for you to consider as you assess your relationship with Instagram:
Decide whether having a private or public account is right for you
There are many important reasons for having a private account. A private account gives you more privacy while taking the pressure off to gain followers. At the same, time if you are running a business want to encourage other women through your account then a public account might be the best fit. The important thing is monitor your personal well-being while using the app and know whether having a private or public account is best for you.
Show up to encourage, not self-promote
One of the most dangerous effects of Instagram is its propensity to make you more self-focused while increasing toxic envy through comparison. What if you showed up in this space with the primary intention to encourage the friends you are connected, rather than to promote yourself or make yourself look a certain way? This could look like making an effort to comment encouraging notes on friends posts, making them seen and known.
Avoid the “explore” section of the app
So you know that little magnifying glass icon? It’s a dangerous button to touch. Instagram knows so much about our likes and preferences based off how we interact on the app and they strategically place content in front of your eyes that is addictive to look at and which often creates envy and discontentment if you’re not careful. It makes me think of the wise phrase “stay in your lane” which to me says “love your life, not hers.” Call me old fashioned, but I don’t believe we’ve been designed to know the intimate details of strangers lives or see frequent pictures of them whether skinny or curvy in their lingerie or bikinis. My advice is to be in tune with how you feel after you view someone’s content. If you feel positive, empowered, and more confident then go for it – follow their account. But if you find that you are feeling envious or icky or just annoyed, it’s not worth your precious peace of mind.
Stick to mostly following people you know offline and have a positive relationship with
For several years I followed women I never met before. I was often inspired by what they had to share, but often I felt like I was spying on individuals’ personal lives at the expense of investing in my own life. Just in the last year I decided to only follow a little more than 100 people who are friends and that I have positive relationships with. And I never follow celebrities. The original design for social media was to stay connected to people you have a personal relationship with, so keep that in mind as you choose who to follow.
Take regular breaks
Taking a few consecutive days, weeks or even months off the app can help you stay present in your actual life and be beneficial for your peace of mind. If you are finding yourself anxious or feeling bad about yourself, that is in indicator that you need to step away from all together, at least for a time. If you are regularly using the app schedule in days, weeks or even months when you go off it to better focus on your dreams, goals and personal well-being. This will help you have better boundaries around the app if and when you go back to using it.
Have usage boundaries with the app
The reality is there is no good reason for me to check it more 1-2 times a day for just a few minutes. I encourage you to think about implementing your own boundaries that are reasonable and work for you. I am hopeful that by following my boundaries with the app I will experience more peace of mind, less anxiety and distraction as well as more productivity and creativity. It’s so worth it! I also invite you to check out certain apps like Anti-Social which has created tools to help you be less distracted.
Remember you don’t need Instagram and you can have an awesome, full and beautiful life without it!
Lastly, I hope you know you have permission to live your one wild and precious life without Instagram or even any social media! I think being mysterious is actually pretty amazing so if you’ve already made this decision I think you are awesome and your life will likely be characterized by deeper presence and contentment. And honestly, you’ll probably be a lot happier than your peers who are glued to their screens watching other people’s lives unfold. Your mental health and peace of mind is of the utmost importance so do what you need to do to protect it and fight for you. The bottom line is your life is both precious and fleeting. We are called to spend our minutes, hours and days wisely as they are a gift. So Instagram or not, make a decision to live your best life, guard your heart and love your life, not hers.