I consider myself to be a mindful, conscious and present person so it’s quite embarrassing to admit that I needed to take a break from social media.
In fact, I’m quite humiliated that I had become one of the very people I tried not to be. Nose in my phone, mindnumbingly scrolling through Instagram without a single hint of realization of what was going on around me.
I knew I what I was doing even as I was 15 minutes in and 100’s of images deep but I just didn’t stop.
Not only was I wasting my life away but I started to agonizingly compare myself to the images that ran past my screen. I felt that all of the progress that had been made in regards to my body image was diminishing with every photo.
I was becoming everything that I had trained myself not to become.
Disengaged. Unaware. Vacant. Uncomfortable. Comparing.
Why had I let this other (false) realm take up so much of my time and energy when it gave me next to nothing in return?
I committed to giving up the ‘gram for a week to bring myself back to reality without distraction. The week surpassed and I was enjoying being clocked off that one turned into two.
Social Media is NOT real life (shock horror).
Instagram or social media gave me this false illusion that it was normal to drive around in Bentleys and Range Rovers, look like you have just walked out of a Vogue or Fitness Magazine, have the perfect, loving, fairy-tale relationship, work wherever you want (if you even have to work) cue; travel your life away, always be tanned, with long luscious hair, makeup done, perfect body, an amazing, to-die-for closet and be down-right rich as f*ck with complete freedom.
What I have realized since stepping back into reality is this; if you observe the people around you, in REAL life, a small minority of people actually look like those you see in your feed. And I mean, in two weeks I saw ONE person. Instead of being bombarded with a constant stream of images of how life ‘should’ be or how I thought most people lived & looked, I brought myself back down to reality and realized that real life was right in front of me. In real life the majority of people, do NOT have these extravagant lifestyles or perfect lives. They are ordinary people who might have one, maybe two, of the alluring factors you think are the norm, but not everyone in real life is a model with millions of dollars in the bank. Instagram augments reality & can quite easily create a disillusion of what ‘reality’ actually is.
The fact of the matter is, most of these people that I was looking up to don’t even have these things either. Their banks do. The car is on finance. Daddy pays for the rent because they still live at home. The clothes are on credit and they work a mundane job in a mass-commercialized retail store with no real goals or aspirations except for becoming ‘insta-famous’, so they spend all of their paychecks on Givenchy handbags to convince everyone that their lives are everything they are not. Because that is the beauty of social media – you can pretend to be something you aren’t. You can choose what to show the world and just as easily hide away things you don’t want people to see, to portray your life in a way that you want it to be.
Time, Time and more Time.
I started to consciously realize how habitual clicking onto Instagram and scrolling had become because when I couldn’t do it anymore, I became a little uncomfortable. It had become a time-filler. Even the flicking motion on my screen had become compulsive.
Sitting on the tram on the way to work, waiting for someone to pick up the phone at work, waiting at traffic lights, waiting for a friend, after dinner, any time I was alone.
It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to see what other people were up to. I was merely doing it to fill in time or because I was uncomfortable to just be with myself without a stimulus for distraction.
It was an unhealthy distraction that really made me disconnect with myself and the world around me. Which is kind of ironic considering that Instagram is used for a means of connection with people from all over the world. And don’t get me wrong, I think it has some amazing qualities but when used in excess as a means to disengage with your life and what is really going on, it has similar to an addiction.
I’ve replaced scrolling on the tram to listening to podcasts (Melissa Ambrosini and Dirty John are highly recommended) or reading more books, or just sitting and looking out the window.
I have more time to spend with friends, writing, I have started to meditate again and read articles that I used to be ‘too busy’ to pick up.
I am comfortable being by myself again.
This leads on to my next point. Social media became a means for me to distract myself from the world around me and to be occupied all-of-the-time.
I was so uncomfortable to just sit with my mind and my emotions without having something to do or look at. And I think this is why so many people are addicted to social media, because we are so disengaged as a society it just augments it and allows us to disconnect and hide away from what is really going on.
Our minds need a break from constant information otherwise they become tired and unfocused which I began to notice in myself.
Life goes on, even if you don’t document it.
I would go for walks to clear my mind but feel the need to take a photo to let everyone know what I was doing.
If I started a new book I would show the world what I was reading.
If I experienced a new smashed avo, it didn’t count unless there was a perfectly angled photo proving I was there.
I realized that I am still me, life is still the same, the world still spins & everything still happens as it does, even if people don’t know what I’m up to.
In fact, it’s kind of more exciting and libersing that I have fallen off the side of the social-media earth without a blip on the radar. But you know what? I bet no one even noticed.
And that is one of the sad truths about it.
For a lot of people social media is a BIG part of their lives and they might feel lost without it but the majority of people on social media wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t there. Why make something such a defining aspect of your life if it literally gives you very little in return.
When something goes wrong or you need help, your Instagram followers aren’t going to drop everything and be at your aide. The real people, in your real life are.
So from here on out, I am focusing on being connected and tuned in, but not hooked. Because I think that is the best way to be.