I joined Instagram late, and I started taking it seriously even later. And like it is when you arrive late to a popular party, it seemed like everyone already knew each other and had taken the best seats and knew where to get the best refreshments. So I struggled with understanding Instagram for a bit.
Now just to be clear from the onset, I don’t believe Instagram (or any social media platform) is a bad thing. I just believe that, as with many things that are neutral, what you get from it, what you do with it and what it does to you is based on who you are and your interactions with it. It may dreg up your insecurities like it did for me, or it may give you an outlet to truly connect and prosper like it does for so many people.
I enjoyed snooping on friends and strangers alike. I loved getting inspired and challenged by the good things other people were doing and learning from them. And to be honest, I loved how I felt less alone when I was scrolling through pictures and timelines. For the time when I was on the app, I felt a little connected to an outside world (even though that connection was something of a mirage).
But eventually I temporarily disabled my accounts and deleted the app from my phone. And I’ll tell you why.
Before I disabled my accounts in May 2021, I took a break by deleting the app from my phone for two weeks. I wanted to see if it would have any positive effect on me and if I could do it long term without being assailed by the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). I did have withdrawal symptoms. There were times when I was itchy to get on the app and get my fix of flashy pictures, snooping opportunities and creative ideas. But I controlled myself and eventually started loving the space it created in my mind, my time and my life.
And by the end of Week Two, I enjoyed the feeling of not having Instagram in my life so much that I bit the bullet and disabled my accounts.
So, why did I leave the platform, really?
I needed clarity without the input of a thousand other ideas.
When I was actively on the app, I noticed a personal pattern. I would pray, strategise and make a decision concerning some area of my life or the other. And I would be alright and confident about it. Until I got on the Instagram.
Then, I would see what other people were doing, get all excited and start second-guessing my own decisions and plans. It became a cycle, I am ashamed to admit. I would question my plans, dismantle them and worry if my plan was the right way. Then I would start all over again.
I admit this had nothing to do with Instagram and everything to do with my wavering confidence in what I had resolved to do before God. Perhaps, a stronger person would not have doubted their own decisions and methods, but I did. And I was in denial about it for a long time, too.
Finally, I admitted it to myself that I needed to be firmly re-schooled, rooted and confident in my own unique identity and direction before I allow myself to be exposed to something that tossed me to and fro.
I needed time away so that the Holy Spirit could work on my heart and allow me to stand firm, regardless of whatever shiny object I saw online. So, I gave myself the permission to leave.
I enjoyed my break from Instagram so much, that I really didn’t want to come back. But I did make the decision to come back on better, healthier and more deliberate terms. Thankfully, I have a healthier self-esteem, increasing clarity and a firmer root in my identity and trust in God.