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On August 22, 2020 I finally did it. I deleted my account. I had only been on Instagram for two or three years, but it was long enough to feel pretty at home there–and long enough to have spent considerable time wondering whether it was worth keeping up.
Here are my reasons for quitting–as well as my reflections after a full two months without the ‘gram.
Why I Quit Instagram
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with social media ever since my then-friend-now-husband convinced me to join Facebook back in 2006.
That love-hate relationship (with Facebook, not my husband) extended to Instagram a few years ago when I decided that it looked like a less-cluttered and possibly more fun platform–and that it might help drive traffic to my blog.
It was fun. And I enjoyed the people I met there. But over time I found the positives didn’t outweigh the negatives. Here’s what finally led me to walk away.
REASON #1: The InstaNature of the Beast (and the Guilt Cycle)
There’s something written into the name “Instagram” (and thus into the platform itself) that creates a sense of urgency where it doesn’t really belong.
Cute moment with the kids during school… Ooo…I should share this!
Hike in the mountains… Ooo…I should snap a photo!
The sense of urgency interrupts real life, but then real life interrupts my attempts to craft a cute caption. When the post is finally made, guilt swoops in, nagging at me for the time spent when I really should have been all-there with my kids or thoroughly enjoying God’s creation or maybe even writing an actual article.
But then the guilt that comes from real life’s call for my attention gets pushed around by the guilt that the platform itself creates. When “instant” is in the name (and the algorithm), it’s hard not to feel like you are somehow failing if you don’t update frequently.
The only way to break this crazy Guilt Cycle is to recognize that I don’t owe Instagram my content, nor do I really owe anyone (and especially not strangers) a near-daily peak into the life of my family. That’s really absurd when you think about it.
REASON #2: The Time-Sink
Even at times when I wasn’t posting very often (which, let’s face it, I was never a super-frequent poster to begin with), there was still the draw of the feed: cute pictures of parenting or homeschool moments, inspirational quotes, updates from some of my favorite people (because I followed real friends on IG, too), and give-aways for things I actually wanted (and which I won on more than one occasion).
These things are lovely, but while they might seem like benign encouragements in my day, they more often than not were the bait to keep me scrolling when I really needed encouragement to get up, do my duty, and love my people.
This past summer I installed the Freedom app, which I have found very helpful.
Putting your social media use on a time budget may just reveal that you don’t have time for it at all.
When I put reasonable restrictions on social media, it became abundantly clear that there simply wasn’t time for creating those cute posts that seemed so necessary. Even when I tried a post-scheduling app, I simply I couldn’t keep up.
All I was left with was that oh-so-addictive scrolling. And it began to feel more and more empty, more and more like stealing time away from what really mattered, even as I had given myself less opportunity for it. My moments of Freedom opened my eyes to the fact that my life off-screen was very, very full. You might say that Instagram wasn’t helping my real-life bottom line, which leads me to the next point…
REASON #3: Low Return on Investment
My real-life bottom line wasn’t the only one that failed to see great returns. While I did manage to stir up a little more interest in my blog, it wasn’t worth the time nor content invested. I enjoyed being able to share things on Instagram, and I’m happy that people could enjoy what I shared there, but it was a drain on my actual writing goals–goals that are more important than traffic, likes, or “social media presence.”
All that said, my initial goal of driving traffic to my blog didn’t actualize in any significant way (it just meant more sharing work surrounding each new blog post). And in the past year, I’ve discovered that a timeless and well-written post that people are searching for is my single best draw for new traffic. I’ve always preferred the “just write and let them come” thing, and now I’m beginning to see how that can work–without Instagram.
REASON #4: A Healthy Dose of Positive Peer Pressure
The three reasons listed above were not the only ones nagging at me. My love-hate relationship with Instagram included a few more considerations and questions that I hadn’t fully enumerated before. Enter Mystie Winckler, whose blog I’ve been following for a number of years and whose voice and thought process I highly respect. I was actually trying to convince myself that I could take this “Instagram thing” up a notch–make it work, post more content–when Mystie announced she would be deleting her account and gave her reasons in this article. Having some of those nagging concerns listed out in front of me helped me see that I really didn’t want to work things out with Instagram!
I posted my “resignation,” if you will, a few days later.
The Results: Goodbye, Instagram; Hello, Freedom
So, how’s life on the other side? Well, it’s life. Real life. And a whole lot of it.
Getting off of Instagram (and making good use of that Freedom app) has made me so much more aware of how buried I am in projects around the house. 😂 And doesn’t that make sense? Don’t we often look to social media as an escape from what we have to do? From the overwhelm that hits when we consider just how much there is to do–and the guilt that has piled up from the last several instances of escapism?
With social media and even email under tight regulations thanks to the Freedom app, I can begin to see the mess much more clearly. And yes, on one level that is frustrating. But it’s also liberating. I’m making huge gains in home and life management: chipping away at goals surrounding our school booklist, finances, painting/remodeling projects, fitness, being “all there” during school time with my kids, more readily reaching for a book, more readily allowing prayer to fill the natural pauses in my day. And doing so without any impulse to capture it for the world to see, which I find allows me to enjoy these things–and not just the images of them–far more.
I’m also free to enjoy our homeschool without images of someone else’s pretty school room making me sigh over the scratched up kitchen table and 34-year-old linoleum floors that greet us every morning.
You think these things–all the perfect images–don’t get to you. But they do… Until you decide to ignore them.
And that is when you begin to really appreciate the beauty of the people God has given you and the places and things–even the worn-out, unphotogenic things–He’s graciously provided.
I’m still planning on replacing that floor, though.
As for the blog, well, while I have never gotten high amounts of traffic, I’m getting better traffic than ever, even when I haven’t posted for a whole month. That increase in traffic is coming from search engines, not social media–even though when I initially publish a post my greatest source of traffic comes from sharing it on Facebook. Turns out my real-life friends are far more likely to read what I write than strangers on Instagram. I think that’s the best I could hope for–knowing that what I write blesses the people I know is way better than increasing numbers among people I don’t know.
I only wish I could say that I’m writing and publishing more frequently, but I think that will come in time. For now I’m taking care of business around the house and for my family (which will continue to be my top priority by a long shot, even as I hope to up my writing output).
While I understand that some people favor Instagram over other platforms and can use it to reach their goals, I have found that I absolutely do not miss or need Instagram in my life.
It’s also true, however, that a distracted mind will find distraction without Instagram’s help. And that’s why I can’t say that all of my results come from simply dropping the ‘gram–deleting my account along with the Freedom app’s ability to schedule blocks on any other online distractions or apps has been a knock-out punch. I highly recommend you look into Freedom or another such tool. I’ve found it an invaluable piece of the puzzle.
Whatever you choose to do to manage the social media and internet beast, let me leave you with this encouragement:
Rightly ordered living is, well, rightly ordered living. And no amount of pretty pictures or affirmation in the form of likes on Instagram can make up for the lack of it.