One Hour Post–Instagram Break

Keeping the promise I made two posts ago, I will spend one hour researching, drafting, editing and posting this post. Knowing that, hopefully you can be gentle on any of the following typos or errors. I will not edit them out.

Now, for the main topic of this article:

Over the past few years, I have successfully honed some of my personal habits and will implement the changes I’ve made in my future work. One of these changes includes completely breaking from a single habit each month. The habits I chose to eliminate are usually those which are harmless in moderation, but destructive in excess. If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a year, you have seen a related series of posts like this before:

During this month (March 2018), for example, I have refrained from any us of Instagram whatsoever. I cannot measure the difference not using Instagram has made in my life, but can unequivocally say that I feel better. Why do I feel better?

Research and common sense have repeatedly told us that using social media can lead to emotional problems, such as anxiety and depression. Forbes and countless other publications have reported on this in-depth. The phrase “Facebook Depression” has come about. It exists because social media can: 1. be addictive; 2. induce sadness; 3. lead us to self-comparison; 4. cause jealousy; 5. lead to delusional thinking; and 6. breed anti-social tendencies.  Further articles on the sometimes honest internet showed that Instagram has these negative effects more than any other social media platform. In fact, the article linked to the beginning of the previous sentence explains how a study showed YouTube was the only platform that did NOT increase users anxiety and depression.

What is it about Instagram that makes us feel so inadequate? It is widely accepted that people are more likely to highlight the positive events and places they are part of and omit the negative ones from Instagram posts. Other users subconciously interpret these posts as telling the whole story. Then, human nature takes over and we end up comparing our own lives to the fantasy lives shown in other Instagram users’ posts.

Omitted are pictures of people doing what they have to do (get a colonoscopy, visit dying relatives, interviewing for jobs we don’t really want, and on and on). Included are angled and filtered shots of pristine beaches, mountains and nature trails, and early-in-the-night pictures with friends. Sometimes people even post pictures of past vacations on #tbt (throwback Thursday) while working through a Tediously Boring Tuesday. Perhaps the latter should be a popularized hashtag. It could make some of us feel less alone and would be funny.

To sum up, I am largely in favor of celebrating and preserving the wonderful moments in life. We should, however, observe these moments with an understanding that these only tell part of anyone’s story and should be viewed without comparison. The latter is in our nature, but consciously remembering to do this will benefit our emotional health.

It is the end of March and I have confirmed that temporarily breaking from Instagram can do a body and soul good.

Next month, dating apps are coming off of my phone. We will see how I feel at the end of April. I will be lowering the percentage of finding Mrs. Right for 30 days, but, perhaps, I will feel better about my chances of finding her starting in May.

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