Instagram is currently the most popular social media app and I have broken up with it twice. It hasn’t been easy leaving, returning and then finally leaving for good earlier this year. But as more time passes without me checking it every day, I have learned so much that is worth sharing.
Some people say they can’t live without Instagram now and that feeling for me was mutual once too. But not anymore. I feel like I am returning to my roots when it comes to my Internet usage back when I still had my Acer laptop which I used until its motherboard fried. So, with that being said, here’s what I’ve learned from leaving the popular social media app that is part of Meta.
Not everything needs to be captured on camera
I cannot stress this enough, it’s like people tell you: pictures or it didn’t happen. We easily succumb to having to capture and post everything on social media from a big event to a tiny ordeal like what we had for breakfast on that particular morning.
I tried to cut back on doing this like taking fewer photos at concerts and other events, but I still struggled to not capture everything like every awesome video game screenshot I saved on Steam, had to go on my Instagram before I continued playing the game. Every shot I took of some flowers, a selfie here and there, it all had to go there because I was living for the likes and I didn’t even know it.
It’s nice to document special moments but not when you do every single second of it or feel the need to capture everything. Sometimes having just a few special photos is better than a hundred right? I don’t think it’s possible to not take pictures of anything at all today, but being without Instagram has made me realize that I don’t need to just add it to a clutter of photos that I may or may not look at every day.
The important thing to remember is that posting photos on Instagram is the same as status updates on Facebook that have little value and we shouldn’t be relying on how many likes we get to feel good about ourselves. Leaving has taught me to strive even more to make memories of my own and interact. If there’s something I encounter that could be photographed worthy then that’s fine, but not everything. The next time I go to a concert I don’t plan on taking any pictures and the event will stay with me forever regardless.
FOMO is a real self-esteem killer
Because we post our best moments on Instagram most of the time, it’s easy to get jealous and insecure. FOMO stands for fear of missing out. Whenever I checked Instagram I would always see people posting all these fun things they were doing: parties, travel, etc. and you begin to wish that your life was like that.
I hated how in the summer I would see all my European friends posting about all the festivals they were going to when there weren’t any near me of my favourite genre. It made me extremely envious. The only way to get over that feeling was to withdraw and pretend none of it was happening.
When I filled my time with more hobbies and other self-care commitments, I found the green-eyed monster was less likely to return. Instagram has this way of making everything look polished so whether it’s a big trip someone’s on, their collection of vinyls, or even their appearance making you wish you were just as beautiful, it can wreck self-esteem.
I don’t have to be up to date with every famous person I love
I followed so many celebrities on Instagram, pop singers, all the members of my favourite bands who had an account, actors, etc. I always looked forward to see mocap videos from Neil Newbon or throwbacks that Rob Zombie would share when he wasn’t putting out something more recent from his latest project. I became addicted to seeing what they were up to and I was lucky if I got some form of acknowledgement from them, especially if they were someone that wasn’t as huge like the members of Orden Ogan for instance.
As time when by, I eventually would get anxious to know whatever they were up to, if I missed out on something important because I was busy or took a break to focus on something else. Even though I didn’t show it, I think inside I was hoping that they would notice me.
Most of time their updates were just simple things like hey here’s another selfie of beautiful me, like Maggie Robertson for instance. When I left Instagram I didn’t see much of those celebrities anymore. I still keep up with them on Facebook and Twitter when I rejoined the latter to promote my blog. Most of them use Instagram more, but I don’t need to know everything, even knowing just the highlights is the most important.
And if I really need to spend some time melting over one of them, then that’s what searching images on Google is for!
Keeping in touch with friends is more important than status updates
This. The aftermath of me leaving Instagram also made me question what was the most important to me. As I mentioned in other articles when I was hacked the first thing I did was inform the friends I had made on the app and asked them if I could add them on Facebook so that we wouldn’t lose touch with each other.
One of them told me she was sad to see me leave Instagram but was happy that we could still talk, respecting that my choice to leave was for the best. Now I’m highly active on Discord now where the whole purpose is communication rather than status updates for likes.
It feels like I’m going back to my roots on the Internet like the time I used to talk to people on MSN or even email them! Today, I would rather catch up with a friend who lives on the other side of town or the Atlantic than post a selfie and see how many people think it’s pretty.
Security should always be a priority
Now we get to the most important matter. Parents will often warn their children that social media apps can take and use your data, but places like Instagram have become a prime target for cybercrimes due to having billions of users. But it’s not just that and the only way one could learn about this is the hard way. If your account is hacked, good luck getting it back because their support system and security is run entirely by bots that spit out automatic replies.
Some people get lucky and restore their accounts but many of us do not so we’re forced to make a new account, it’s apparently the norm on Instagram now to keep making a new account if you get hacked because they don’t do much to help you retrieve your account from hackers. I pushed to have my hacked account deleted because I was afraid that the hacker would do more than just message my followers with cryptocurrency scams as well as post about them. When the account was deleted, it was a massive relief but I was still left with zero desire to return to the app way more than I did after the incident in 2016.
On other social media platforms, many other hacked victims as well as those who had their accounts wrongly disabled were being ignored when they tried reaching out to staff members and even the CEO themselves. Some people have even been leaving negative reviews of the app and creating petitions for Instagram to improve their security system.
Except this doesn’t appear to be on Adam Mosseri’s agenda at all. He would rather just copy TikTok and add more features that the app doesn’t need. You’d think with how loud everyone has been about these issues and it’s been on the news, the people who work for Meta would have said something like hey maybe we should fix Instagram’s security system, and support before we lose too many customers right?
Instead it sounds like they are trying to blame me for the fact that I was hacked like oh you got hacked, sucks to be you, create a stronger password next time and turn on two-factor authentication! That my friends, is victim-blaming and it’s unacceptable. Should we create strong passwords and turn on extra security layers? Yes, absolutely, but the app also has a responsibility to create a trustworthy environment since many people rely on social media to keep in touch with friends or grow their small business.
If Instagram is not going to properly address the hacking problem by walking the talk and not make security a priority then they have lost me permanently as a user. Not having an actual human being to contact when someone loses access to their accounts, is questionable.
There’s always something to be learned from quitting a social media site, and I’ve been doing better without Instagram anyway, I’ve read similar stories from other writers who said leaving was the best thing they did. Sometimes we don’t know we were addicted to something until we stop using it.