Almost everyone I knew had Instagram, so when I first got Instagram the summer after sixth grade, I was ecstatic.
It was fun being able to share moments of my life with friends and family at one click. I was able to keep in contact with old friends and even made new ones. I felt more connected with people than I had before.
There was always something to look at on Instagram, whether it was a celebrity’s feed, some funny videos, or photos of acquaintances.
Like, comment, and share; It can seem like an endless cycle when scrolling through your Instagram feed.
With the constant exposure to other people’s lives, it became hard to not compare myself with other people.
Seeing other people live a certain way made me feel as if my life was lacking. Like, I was doing something wrong. It created a pressure on myself to portray myself as someone else. Someone who was constantly having the time of their life.
Instagram became less of a fun photo sharing app and more into a constant game of comparison.
Frequent thoughts of “I wish I was as pretty as her,” or “Why didn’t I get as many likes?” and “Why isn’t my life like that?” flitted around my mind as I fell deeper and deeper into a void of comparison.
Of course I recognized that in the real world, likes and comments held no real value, but when everyone around you uses Instagram, the reality can slip away and you find yourself caring much more about your online presence; especially since some of the people you interact with have never met you in real life, and are only able to go off of what you post.
The joy of being able to interact with friends was marred by the preying feelings of comparison that left me feeling drained.
Those feelings led me to make the decision to disable my Instagram account in the winter of my freshman year after a long time of consideration.
Initially, I had feelings of uncertainty with my decision: “Am I missing out? Was this a mistake?” That, coupled with friends of mine trying to convince me to change my mind, I was in a state of mental purgatory with my decision.
Ultimately, I decided to choose and prioritize my mental health and kept my account disabled.
Having been active on Instagram for three years prior to my decision, it was a strange adjustment.
I couldn’t open the app by reflex and scroll mindlessly anymore. I couldn’t see what other people were up to. I was no longer as connected to this online world.
Over time, I became more and more sure of my decision. I found a relative peace of mind and moved on from the attachment I held.
I still found myself comparing myself, but it was a lot less as I had taken out the main, and seemingly endless, source of comparison.
There are definitely things I miss about having Instagram, and could see myself getting it back again one day, but for now I’ll stay offline.