It started as an experiment but ended up being a lifestyle change with tons of positive changes.
It’s been a little over one year since I don’t have Instagram on my iPhone.
Prior to that, I always used to obsess over YouTube videos with titles such as “I Quit Social Media for 30 Days”, “Why You Should Delete Social Media”, “A Year Without Social Media”, etc.
I could always understand the benefits, but never had the guts to follow through. What will I do when commuting on the train? How will I see what my friends are up to? How will other people know what’s up with my life?
The questions came rushing in whenever the thought occurred, and immediately the thoughts had to make way for just another 15 minutes of Instagram for the day.
The day I deleted Social Media, was just another day. I started it as an experiment. The plan to try it out for a couple of weeks and evaluate what’s missing from my life.
A couple of weeks turned into a few months and then turned into one year.
Now, here we are around one year and four months later.
Deleting Instagram brought some of the most positive changes in my life. Let’s talk about those.
New Micro Habits
More often than not, I used Instagram to fill in the dull or idle time I had every day.
I used to doom scroll between meetings, in the bathroom, before going to sleep, after waking up, while heating up food, when cooking, or when waiting for someone to show up.
It was 10–15 minutes here and there, which added up to mighty 2–3 hours of Instagram screen time.
Now that I didn’t have Instagram, the time had to be spent elsewhere.
I consciously replaced it with some more positive habits:
- Read a couple of pages of a book
- Pull up Medium or Raindrop.io to read some articles I had bookmarked
- Listen to podcasts
- Do nothing but think
- Call friends or family to catch up
Over time, these positive micro habits were on the rise in my life.
All these combined had a significantly greater positive impact on my life than Instagram ever did.
Less Driven By Emotions
Social media apps, such as Instagram, are designed to appeal to their user’s emotions.
Only by appealing to users’ emotions can apps like these make sure you stay on the app hour after hour. The more you scroll through, the more money they make.
I always noticed that Instagram used to show me content that brought out strong emotions.
Sometimes these were good emotions. I used to scroll through motivational quotes that used to inspire me to do better. That feeling was short-lived though.
It was more common to appeal to my negative emotions — jealousy, insecurity, regret, etc.
Since I stopped using Instagram, I noticed having a more intentional and self-controlled life than one driven by emotions all the time. It was significantly less exhausting.
Surprise, Surprise — Reduced Screen Time
To no one’s surprise, my screen time took a nose dive since I stopped using Instagram.
Ten or fifteen minutes here and there used to add up to hours of screen time on Instagram. Of course, this is not to include the occasional nights or mornings when doom-scrolling became my favorite pastime.
I shaved off almost 10 hours of Instagram screen time from my phone. That’s 10 hours I devoted to other positive micro habits.
I could see a tangible positive effect of reduced screen time.
For many of us, Instagram is the king of all distractions (except TikTok nowadays I guess!)
There was a large chunk of time I had all my phone notifications turned off but still used Instagram.
You would think that without notifications it wouldn’t be too much of a distraction. So did I. I was so wrong.
Just the presence of the app was enough for me to pick up my phone almost unconsciously to go to the app, swipe down for fresh content, and then scroll through content for 10–15 minutes.
And of course, there were times when I actually posted something — maybe a post or story. What followed was constantly checking the app to see how my upload was performing the rest of the day — sometimes even the rest of the week.
All these distractions of course meant less time to do meaningful focused work.
More Focus on Self Than Others
Most people’s Instagram profile is composed of their life’s highlights. Even worse, for some people, it’s composed of total lies.
Most photos uploaded put people’s real faces behind filters to give people smoother skins, sharper faces, and every feature that Instagram’s proprietary AI models think is attractive.
In an environment like this, it’s natural to compare yourself to others. Compare your life to someone else’s life highlights.
I did not find myself doing this too often, however, it did happen from time to time.
The negative effects of social media on teenagers are well documented. However, you don’t have to be a teenager to be affected. People from across all ages can find themselves comparing themselves with others and being miserable.
Since I deleted Instagram, that focus changed. I started focusing more on myself and my life, than grading my life based on how others were doing.
Better Sleep Routine
To have a good night’s sleep you need to have a good evening or nighttime routine.
Smartphones, especially ones equipped with Instagram, do not help that cause.
Previously, it was very tempting to bring the phone with me to bed just to scroll through the day’s updates — until of course, you realize an hour in that you don’t care about any of these updates!
Even the mornings were a dread. I used to wake up early, but spend 45 minutes to an hour on my phone before “actually waking up”.
These habits totally went away the moment I deleted Instagram.
You Still Stay Connected with Friends and Family
There are much better ways to stay connected with friends and family than using Instagram.
Seeing stories and posts — and reacting or commenting on them — gave me a false sense of “connectedness” with friends and families. I could go months without talking to them, still having the feeling that I was somehow connected to them.
That kind of connection is very shallow.
Since I stopped using Instagram, I realized how many people I thought I was connected to, but I really wasn’t.
That’s not to say I don’t care about staying up-to-date with people’s lives if they are not close friends or families. However, I don’t have to do that every second of every day.
Instead, now I use Instagram from my browser once a week or every other week. That’s enough time to get an idea of what people in my network are up to.
Also, the less addictive desktop experience means I am in and out of Instagram very quickly.
I hope you found this a valuable read and have some takeaways that you can go ahead and implement in your wonderful lives.
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