By Abigail Frazier—Asst. News Editor
Six months ago, back in Sept. 2018, I deleted my Instagram account. I did not deactivate it, nor did I simply delete the application on my phone. I deleted my personal account of seven years. To be honest, it might go down as one the healthiest decisions I have made.
From constantly counting likes and followers to a never ending battle of comparisons, Instagram wreaked havoc on my mental health and my self-appreciation. For some people, social media is not a problem. For the multitude of others, social media has the opportunity to create unnecessary anxiety, self-loathing, and unhealthy time management. However, the application continues to grow in terms of the number of users.
About ten months ago, John Constine of TechCrunch released shocking statistics of users on Instagram. “Today Instagram announced that it has reached 1 billion monthly active users, after passing 800 million in September 2017 with 500 million daily users,” said Constine.
Even though millions of people use this application, there is no doubt that this platform of social media consumes people’s lives just as it did mine.
The idea of a social media cleanse—a timed detox of social media—has become one the most popular solutions to combating the unhealthy consumption of social media. Last year, numerous celebrities took social media cleanses by temporarily deactivating their Instagram accounts.
According to People magazine, Cardi B deleted instagram for two days in Feb., Ariana Grande for two months, and Kanye West for one week last October.
In July of last year, Bustle magazine of Bustle Digital Group, the largest premium publisher reaching millennial women according to their website, released an article including ten testimonies of women’s techniques to social media cleanses.
“I am more productive at work because updates are out of sight, and if my phone isn’t going off, I’m deep into my computer focusing on my projects,” said Jessica, one of the women interviewed by writer Iman Hariri-kia. “It is a little difficult to maintain the abstinence, though, when I’m hanging with friends and everyone whips out their phones. That’s when I feel the pull the most, but it’s a small price to pay for the serenity and peace of mind that comes with not logging in.”
The fear of missing out, more popularly known as FOMO, arises severely when taking steps away from social media in a heavily social media driven society. Fortunately, FOMO does not last; what actually lasts is regained confidence, less anxiety, and newfound freedom.
According to a 2016 University of Illinois study by Alejandro Lleras and Tayana Panova, a connection was found linking mobile and social media usage to depression and anxiety after surveying three hundred college students.
Even though internet usage has become even more accessible to our fingertips, and social media platforms have become our favorite pastime, is it really all worth it when our mental health is at risk? From my experience, I would say definitely not.
Now six months into my social media and Instagram cleanse, I do not plan on stepping back into that world.
With more time on my hands for the things that truly matter and give life, and more opportunity to focus solely on the betterment rather than comparison of myself, I am staying in this Instagram-less time. I highly recommend you do too.