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Recently, I deactivated my Instagram account—for about three weeks.
I’d been feeling overwhelmed with it for awhile, but like any toxic relationship, I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until I was away from it.
The “wake up” moment for me was during the big Toronto storm of 2019. We went from the usual, grey, dry cold of January, to heaps and heaps of white snow piled up outside overnight and -40 Celsius (also -40 Fahrenheit) temperatures.
And we all captured it.
There were countless Instagram stories about “all the snow!” “Snow storm!” “Result of the storm!” “Look what’s happening in Toronto right now!”
And I was part of it. As I flipped through each story, one made me stop and laugh. This guy had posted a voting question that said, “Did a storm really happen in Toronto if no one posted about it?” I laughed. Then I laughed again, but this time because what he said was all too real.
I realized then how sucked into the social media trap I’d become, and how posting about my life really was taking away from my joy of living it.
This is not, however, another article about all the things I got back to without social media—like being more present, comparing less, finding more time to do things, realizing how fake and time-consuming it is—and while all of that is well and true, there was something else I’d thought about when I came back to the social media world.
When I reactivated my account after this albeit brief detox, I found myself just not really wanting to go back to it the same way.
We’d lost that spark—or maybe I had just moved on to bigger and better things.
At the same time, I admit that I was already thinking about what my first post back would be—an announcement that I’d returned? A poem about finding my joy for life again? Or a sweet photo of myself with a vaguely obscure caption?
Already, I was thinking about when I would post said post. And I thought back to all the research I’d done about best times and days to post. You know what the best times to post are? Between 8-9 a.m. when everyone is on their commute to work. Or at noon when everyone is taking lunch. Or late at night when people are scrolling through their phones in bed.
It was during everyone’s “in-between time.” Those few moments we have to breathe during our busy days.
And I thought for a moment: Why would I want to contribute to this society fueled by distraction and mindlessness while I’m here preaching and writing about mindfulness?
I didn’t want to be part of it anymore.
Yes—I’ll probably still keep my account and I’ll probably still post from time to time, but only when it feels right or when I just damn want to. I’m not trying to start a business—my livelihood doesn’t depend on it—but even if so, if we all changed these habits collectively, then wouldn’t the methods for success change too?
So, here are 10 things to do with your “in-between time” instead of scrolling on social media:
- Read the news.
- Write an article.
- Listen to a podcast.
- Call a friend.
- Read a damn book.
- Sit in silence (or meditate).
- Research something you’ve been thinking about.
- Make a to-do list.
- Make a gratitude list.
Instagram and I always will have a love-hate relationship. I am a firm believer in supporting other artists, and part of why I struggle with social media is because it really is a great place for artists to make a name for themselves.
I know that “liking” someone’s photo is a way of showing that support, and I will continue to do my best to do so. But I will not compromise my own mental health and well-being for something that society has made us feel is important (or rather, for anything).
What I will do is always come to your show if you have one. I will buy your book. I will read the articles you publish. I will share your work with my friends and family if I believe in it.
These are the other ways we can support one another that, I think, are much more meaningful than a double-tap on a tiny screen.