About three weeks before returning to school, ready to charge into a new and different semester, I did it. I took the brave and fatal step of . . . deleting the Instagram app from my phone.
It took much agonizing and an exorbitant amount of time to commit to this step, and even then my finger hovered over the wiggling “x” at the top right corner of my precious Insta app for, well, longer than it should have.
But then the deed was done, and I looked at my phone in surprise. Pressing “delete” had actually deleted that app. The app I opened up probably 100 plus times a day just to “check what’s going on” was gone.
I felt strange, but also felt really annoyed that I felt strange. So I told myself, “It’s just ‘till we get back to school. I basically have to have it for school.”
We’re over a month into the school year now, and I still have not re-downloaded Instagram.
And it isn’t because I am better than other people or trying to be incredibly intentional about my social media usage. It isn’t because I have anything against social media and all the posting and updating.
However, this small decision has changed my daily life in ways that are perhaps imperceptible to others, but incredibly significant for me. I don’t go straight to my phone when I am waiting or bored. When I’m standing in line or just have nothing to do in a moment of time, I don’t automatically start scrolling through my feed or watching stories.
I’ve been more aware of people around me instead of being so caught up in the lives of people I never even talk to or only interact with on social media. This has also allowed me to have conversations with people about their lives apart from any knowledge of what has been posted on social media. I’ve been able to “see” people a lot more in that I’ve had time to notice who is walking past me or who sits around me in class. I also haven’t been tempted to pull my phone out during class and catch up with what everyone is posting.
Another benefit I have seen is my ability to entertain my own thoughts rather than those I’m being told to think by a social media feed. Rather than constantly taking in other people’s experiences and reactions, I can think about the things I am learning and experiencing while giving them time to settle in my brain. I am free to process the information already cluttering my mind.
Now my brain doesn’t need to be constantly entertained, and the most noticeable outcome is my newly cultivated ability to be still and rest. I have taken time to pray for friends who have shared prayer requests with me or to intercede for family members who are struggling. I have taken time to reflect on the promises God has shown me in His Word. I have stopped to think about how much I have to be thankful for instead of scrolling and seeing more and more that I wish I had.
Rather than having envy and covetousness stirred up in my soul, I remember the blessings of my Heavenly Father.
There are benefits to having Instagram, too. Many of my friends use Instagram to post Bible verses to their stories or ask their friends to share blessings and prayer requests. I follow a couple fashion bloggers for new outfit inspiration, and I support my friends’ small businesses by following their accounts and liking their content.
I do still check into Instagram on my computer once or twice a week because there are relationships I keep up with through that media platform. One of my friends recently got engaged and I wanted to see her pictures, so I checked Instagram, liked her post, watched a few stories, and then exited out of the browser.
Despite checking in every now and then, I really don’t think I’m ready to add the app back onto my phone at this point. Sure, I could set time limits or make the conscious effort to only open that app two times a day. But for me, it is much more efficient to just remove the easy access to an information overload.
So, do you need to take a social media break? Maybe, maybe not. If you try it, you may be surprised to realize, as I did, that you don’t even miss it. You may find out you like being unplugged. You never know unless you try.