I would like to acknowledge right away of how well aware I am that some of this sounds ridiculous and shallow. But I want to say that for young people, especially women, growing up in a society that idolizes the “perfect body” or “perfect hair” or perfect whatever, it is hard. Insecurities happen, and they are difficult to over come, but this piece is about taking a step back and realizing that there is so much more than what is being shown to you on a screen or in a filtered picture.
We are all guilty of becoming way too attached to social media. We use social media as news sources, to communicate with friends and family, classes, and to just show everyone what we are doing with out lives. It’s fun, interesting and well…quite addicting.
I am a full fledge social media addict: it’s basically written out on my resume, I do it for a job, and I do it for personal use. But I was beginning to see that it was affecting me in negative ways, especially Instagram. Instagram is one of those social media platforms that you can either have a lot of fun with, or you can let it control your days, and I was one that would let it control my days. I had specific days I would post, I knew what times would get me the most likes and I would go on follow sprees just to gain more followers back. I was obsessed, and not in a good way.
It came to my attention that I was using Instagram as a way to, in my eyes, get justifiably upset about my insecurities. I only felt pretty if I got more likes than this person, or had more followers than that person. My friends had nicknamed me the “selfie queen” as if I posted selfies so easily, but I often spent hours trying to edit it perfectly and then deciding if it was even good enough to post. And it was starting to really wear me down and trigger my depression. So I decided to take a week off, maybe more if I needed it, and see how I felt.
At first this was really hard for me. I spent so much of my time scrolling through Instagram, weather it was looking at food, people, corgis, you name it and I had probably seen it. I worked hard on my Instagram and really enjoyed sharing pictures and gaining followers. But as the days past I realized I was feeling a lot better about myself, life and my school work (probably because I wasn’t taking so many homework breaks).
I wasn’t constantly looking at people I felt were prettier, skinnier or smarter than me. I was doing me, and I was doing it on my own. I was going on random trips to the beach with friends and taking pictures to document the memory, not to post and show off. I felt real again and so did life.
It felt so great not to be tied to the amount of likes I was getting on a picture, or worrying about who saw it and what they thought of it. Even since my break ended I haven’t turned my Instagram notifications back on, because honestly I don’t care any more. If you’re going to use social media, you should use it because you want to, not because other people are admiring you.
I get that we are labeled as the generation that hides behind screens, I mean I’m telling you this through a screen, but don’t ever feel like you can’t take a step back from it, in fact I would recommend everyone does. Seeing the world in a real way and not what is “insta-worthy” is such a fulfilling feeling that I’m mad I went so long without it. I feel like people think the world is in their hands on social media apps, and a lot of people over look the little piece of the world they already hold in their hands. When we get attached to social media, we lose sight of what’s happening in front of us. Even if you don’t think you’re this way, chances are pretty good you are a little bit.
I think the biggest take away I took with this break was that I am so much more than likes and followers. I’m a real thing. I’ve achieved crazy things and I’ve done crazy things, a lot of which will never be shown on my social media, but it doesn’t mean it’s not something I’m proud of. I think everyone should take the time to get in touch with that part of themselves again, because as a generation and as people, we are a lot more than an app, likes, or followers. And the world is so much more than something you can just scroll through and double tap.