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Why I'm quitting Instagram
Building a life without social media
It was a decision I never thought I’d make. A year ago, I wouldn’t even have considered it. I couldn’t have predicted the sense of release that this decision would give me. I am free.
Like many millennials, I hopped on the Instagram trains pretty much as soon as it launched. As I was at University at the time, my feed generally consisted of admittedly blurry photos of nights out and my pets looking cute.
I wouldn’t say I was necessarily hooked on Instagram back then. I definitely used it more as I got phones with better cameras and the functionality of Instagram improved. But it wasn’t something that took a lot of my attention.
This changed when I launched by blog in 2020. Over this year, I transitioned my content to fit with my blog and started producing content for Instagram itself. By the end of 2021, I had significantly increased my followers from approx. 1000 to over 20,000.
At the time, I was thrilled. This is what I was aiming for in as I was building my side hustle as a content creator. I was getting so much value out of Instagram. I had learnt new skills, such as photo and video editing, and really felt like it was a place I could connect with a community. But at what cost?
Addictions are subtle. They can grab hold of you gnaw away without you even being aware. I started to realise that I had an unhealthy relationship with my phone. This was primarily sparked by reading ‘Digital Minimalism’* by Cal Newport and watching the Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’, which were filled with shocking statistics on how time online, especially on social media, can have negative impacts on our mental health.
I started noticing these addictive habits in myself. How I would never leave my home, or even a room, without my phone. How I would unlock my phone before I knew why I was doing it. Checking my screen time reinforced that, in my opinion, I was spending an unhealthy amount of time on social media. I knew something needed to change.
Since then, I’ve tried to implement some healthy habits. I would take weekends off social media. Mostly. I would stop using it after 5pm. Sometimes. It was a constant battle and I never felt like I was really moving forwards.
It was two weeks ago when something changed. I was refreshing my Instagram feed almost constantly. Feeling depressed that my new reel hadn’t got the views I wanted. Knowing deep down that it’s never enough. The views, likes, comments. Even when I got numbers I could never imagine, I always wanted more. My mental health was suffering for it. This was the first time I seriously considered leaving.
Beyond my mental health, I was spending a huge amount of time creating content for Instagram. This was taking away from my real passions, like writing, that I could never seem to find time for.
To succeed on Instagram, in my opinion, you have to be always ‘on’. You cannot put in minimal effort and expect results. Not only was I posting regularly, I was spending time responding to comments or DM’s and constantly researching to stay on top of changes in the algorithm. It was exhausting.
I chatted about my endeavours to live slowly in a recent YouTube video. After this video, I realised that social media was not fitting with the lifestyle I wanted. I had already come off Twitter and Facebook earlier in the year. Instagram was my biggest demon. It was time to let it go.
Its a scary decision and people around me have rightly been shocked when I told them. Why would I walk away from my apparent ‘success’? Could I still be a content creator and build my side hustle without social media?
It came down to what is right for me. I am already so much happier now I have made this decision. I still want to continue to create content, but in a way that doesn’t degrade my mental health or absorb all my time. I will be focusing on long form/high value content on my YouTube and now this newsletter. I’d far rather have a smaller audience that I can really connect with than the thousands I had on Instagram. Its time to really practise what I preach.
I want to talk more about my new content shift and digital minimalism generally and I’d be fascinated in your thoughts, so please do comment below. I’m already thrilled with the community we are growing on this small corner of the internet and cannot wait to see where this will take me.
Never be scared to make the right choice for you. It’s your life and you can mould it exactly as you choose. Be brave and I promise you, it will be worth it.