Hi my name is Jessica and I’m an Instagram-aholic. I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of hours on my Instagram app, scrolling mindlessly and getting lost in eye-catching feeds that seem to tell the story of a beautiful, exciting life. The first step to overcoming it is to admitting it right?
The truth is, I’m an addict in recovery who relapses often. I’ve recently been using Screen Time on my iPhone to set limits on the number of hours I can spend on social media. The problem is that just like any other bad habit that needs kicked, this requires self-discipline. Self-discipline is an area where I could use a lot of improvement, if I’m being honest. It’s just too easy to hit that button to ignore my screen time limit and get my Instagram fix. But I am getting better, and every week my screen time numbers go down. Eventually I’ll get to a point where I only check the app once or twice a day, or maybe even go a few days without it.
I struggle with feeling like I’m missing out on things when I’m not on it. Stories only last for 24 hours and if I don’t see it in that time period I’ll never get to see it! How will I know what is going on in people’s lives if I don’t watch their stories and keep up with their feed?!
You see, the problem with this is that I don’t really need to know what is going on in the life of people I barely know, or only know through a screen. Why should I spend hours a day of my OWN life, looking at the lives of others? Bye productivity. Bye goals. Bye genuine human interaction. I’m going to spend 3 hours ‘connecting’ with people online over superficial interactions and the tidbits of their life that they choose to share ✌
As I’ve been spending less and less time staring at my phone screen, I’ve noticed a few things that have only further convinced me that my addiction is real and its scary. I want to share them with you.
- By choosing to bury my face in my phone screen watching the lives of other people, I’m missing out on my own life. Often times I’ve had a to-do list, or a plan to be productive, and then I looked up and realized I had wasted an hour on Instagram and now I don’t have time to get stuff done. The hours I spend staring at my phone screen are hours that I could be writing, or reading, or meal prepping, or cleaning my apartment, or completing things on my to-do list that need to get done, or de-stressing. Instagram is an easy distraction from the things that I need to get done that I don’t necessarily want to do, but it also adds way less value to my life than the things that I’m using it to avoid.
- When I have spend less time on my phone, I have more time for genuine human connection. In-person, face-to-face connection. Which feels so much better than superficial online connection. I’m in a fairly new relationship. In the last couple of months that we’ve been spending time together, it has really opened my eyes to my screen addiction. Trying to use my phone less and less around him has shown me that it is important to value the people who are right in front of you more than the people on your phone. Why should I take away from the time that I’m spending with someone who cares about me and is right in front of me to go online and ‘spend time with’ people who I don’t care about nearly as much, who do not matter, and who definitely do not care about me as much. Noticing this with Steve has made me think about it in other areas of my life as well – when I’m at a family dinner, or spending time with my mom or sisters or dad or grandparents or friends, I should be spending time with them and not sitting with them while I stare at my phone screen.
- Spending too much time on social media is a source of anxiety for me. A lot of times if I notice myself feeling anxious, it will happen after I’ve spent an obnoxious amount of time on Instagram. Often, IG leaves me feeling like I’m not enough. I’m not fit enough, I’m not pretty enough, I don’t have an aesthetic enough feed, I don’t workout enough, I don’t have as many followers, people don’t engage with me as much as they engage with other people, I haven’t done enough with my life, I’m not being productive enough. This is all so ridiculous! I know in my heart that comparison is the death of joy and that instagram is a highlight reel of successes and that most of the things like follower count and engagement and aesthetic feeds do not matter. And I also know that I am smart and beautiful and strong and kind and caring and worthy and more than enough. I know this – but it still gets into my brain and whispers “You are not enough.”
- I’m not missing out. My life will go on if I don’t see every funny cat video ever posted. If I miss a sale because I missed watching my favorite fashion bloggers story, I will survive and my bank account will be happier. Sure, maybe I won’t be as up-to-date on the celebrity gossip or on what is going on in the life of that girl I hardly know but we met at a party once and followed each other. But I’m not missing out. You know what I am missing out on by wasting my time staring at my phone screen? Laughing with my boyfriend. Listening to my mom talk about her day. Seeing my baby sister do or say something absolutely adorable. Having a real conversation with my older sisters. Watching TV with my great-grandma and chatting with her. Looking up while I’m walking and taking in the world around me. Spending time with my own thoughts. Engaging with real humans in the world around me. Actually truly living.
Instagram isn’t the devil. Its still fun to post pictures and to share in the joy of other people’s lives. It’s an easy way to connect with people. For instance, if I wasn’t on social media, I don’t know how I would share my blog posts with others. Social media is not inherently bad. The problem that I have is that I struggle with balance. With spending too much time on it. With placing too much importance on it. With not ever moving those on-screen connections to actual real, in-person connections. With disengaging from my real life and from the people who love me because I want to scroll my feed and watch stories.
I probably won’t ever quit instagram completely, but I do plan on cutting back more and more. Stepping back from it has helped me get perspective. As hard as it is to admit, Instagram is most definitely an addiction for me, but its one that I’m working to break. Getting real with yourself and admitting you have a problem doesn’t feel great. But you can’t fix a problem unless you know that you have it. And working to fix it and actually improving yourself? That brings a sense of accomplishment that feels pretty good.
The world today is more connected than ever in terms of how many people are online and how easy it is to reach people across the globe. But in terms of real, human connection – coffee shop conversation, meeting strangers with interesting stories, being vulnerable, engaging with the people around you without turning to your phone screen, connecting with real humans in real life – I think we could all do a little better.
Thanks for reading and sharing with others who may also be suffering from screen addiction. Are you struggling with it as well? Is it a habit you’re looking to break, too? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it in the comments!
Photography by 3 Little Birds Photography