The Good The Bad The Ugly: A Social Media Cleanse

You’re at a stoplight, you’re scrolling Instagram. In line at the store..scrolling. On the toilet (don’t even lie) you’re scrolling. You’re out with friends you are scrolling. The list is endless of unnecessary times we are scrolling Instagram. It’s a habit that becomes a natural instinct. Well,  I decided to break this habit. There should probably be a warning on this write-up, it has a negative tone but trust me I think I’ve found a balance between light and dark on this topic.

Let me lay this out for you. Instagram is an incredible platform for brand building and giving people a window into our lives. But when does it become an unhealthy platform? I have had this feeling about Instagram for quite some time now. After having this habit pointed out to me and my “coming to Jesus or whoever” moment I decided to list them out. Instagram became a pressure, a confidence crasher, and a never-ending battle of comparison. Not only did it become this negative energy it also slapped me in the face about how much it is a facade. I know countless people who put out a picture of this perfect happy life. In reality, this one-second photo is a validation of something that doesn’t even exist. The fact that people, even I at times, are in the midst of an incredible moment and instead of basking in every second of it they whip their phones out, click a picture and walk away from it. Not only is it annoying when people do that, but also being in the field of Media and Communications you have to build your own “brand.” The struggle that finally made me crack was the fact that I felt I couldn’t put anything out there because I wasn’t happy about it and didn’t feel true or authentic. You are probably rolling your eyes and mumbling “bless your heart you millennial.” Yup, you are right but let’s be honest here, in 2015 the number of active users on Instagram is 77.6 million the projections for 2019 are to surpass to 111 million. Society revolves around the internet, our phones and social media. When does projection of ourselves on a platform become an artificial version of yourself instead of a genuine version of you? Endlessly searching for inspiration ended up being a battle over the comparison. We are constantly seeing articles about how unhealthy social media has become, celebrities taking a cleanse from social media and speaking out on it. Yet people are still using it or their own habits don’t change.  As we continue to brand ourselves individually we are still being reminded to stay true to ourselves or being your most authentic self. But how does one act using a platform by projected a more “fine-tuned” version of ourselves? It’s a never-ending excuse of being a hypocrite and the contradictions.

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Well damn was he right. Instead of being inspired I was constantly comparing myself, on how I should be excelling in attempting to create content even if it’s half-ass content. Grasping on the fact that an incredible platform was making me miserable. So I made a change. With this, I did the typical cliche move. “New Year, New Me.” *cue eye roll* It played out like this. Breakdown, reflection, delete. I decided on a thirty-three day cleanse and haven’t looked back since. No scrolling, no searching. This addiction isn’t quite gone. I am still on Facebook and Snapchat but truthfully this hasn’t been a problem because to me these platforms still make me feel like a human. You might think this is a contradiction, it is kind of true so get over it!  Hear me out for a second. To me, Snapchat is just people sending ugly photos of themselves not even bothering to try. Facebook is a constant forum of articles, memories or your grandmother sending you meaningless forwards. By taking a break from Instagram the following has happened. My screen time has gone down twenty-five percent, my mind has been more at ease. My mind has been more focused on the present. As of now the idea of going back to Instagram doesn’t seem to be on my mind. It’s not something I even want to return to. To conclude all this rambling, I have to say a break from Instagram might not be such a bad idea. The cleansing of your following and what you see on your timeline might be a good idea. ( Even for those who are so worried about the follow for the follow nonsense.) Taking the Instagram platform for out of my phone has not only cleared and eased my mind but has also made me realize “How and why the fuck did I become that prick that really cared about what other people thought?” The true reality is the idea for Instagram was just to be another platform to be a place to express yourself and content. Which it still is but unfortunately people fall into a trap of how we perceive ourselves how we want to come off to the world. With this you need to balance and to simply remember its an app! So get out take some time away if you need it. Cleanse your feed, fix your explore page just remember IT’S AN APP! Sometimes it’s easier said than done but the minute it’s putting you back in that hole step away remind yourself that it’s an app. 

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Maddie Thomas
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