If social media was already a huge part of our lives in normal times, during the coronavirus quarantine, it may have now completely overtaken them.
Instagram has become the preferred means for tackling social distancing with live recordings virtually every hour on the most disparate topics. And don’t forget the memes or the hashtags coined ad hoc for the occasion.
I know it well, because I am—I dare say—an obsessive user of Instagram. Or rather, I was.
That little pink and captivating icon was the magical access button to an alternative world I could enter any time I wanted, specifically when something caused me anxiety and I sought to avoid it, when I was bored, on a break from work, or queued in any public place (goodbye observation of people and situations). Oh! And of course in bed before sleeping or when in the bathroom.
I know someone out there can relate to this.
For several months I had wanted to eliminate Instagram (or rather, the compulsive use of Instagram) from my life. But I work in digital communication, and it had taken me time to create a personal brand. I didn’t want to ruin everything because of my inability to manage a tool in a healthy way.
So I continued to keep the cursed pink icon on my mobile phone screen. I adopted weak strategies like “hiding” it in other folders, or placing it on a screen after the home page. But guys, there is nothing that our brains can do better than adapt, and so my finger became the fastest in the West to find and click on that pink icon.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but I felt trapped.
Trapped to watch the stories as if they were my favorite episode of “Beverly Hills 90210” in the 90s (with the difference that Beverly Hills was once a week, stories are round-the-clock).
Trapped to scroll the feed in search of everything and nothing.
Trapped in looking for people I shouldn’t have been looking for.
Trapped in following people I didn’t want to follow anymore, but who it would be “rude” to unfollow.
When the quarantine began and everyone threw themselves headlong into their social networks to bridge physical distance, I felt even more trapped. So, as I always do when I am in a new context, I first studied the situation in silence.
Every time I opened the app, the notification of a new, live recording on the most varied of topics appeared. Brunches cooked online filled my feed. And memes—an infinity of memes—shared repeatedly. Because something had to be shared.
But above all the worst thing: advice from basically every influencer or brand on what to do at home in quarantine, in a range that went from repainting walls, to massive Marie Kondo cleansing, or even learning Japanese.
And all the online business owners or entrepreneurs who took advantage of the opportunity to give away “free” online courses to “help” people, but who actually did a lead generation activity to expand their user base in view of the future.
In short: here we are. One fine day, I decided to delete the app until the end of the quarantine.
I didn’t need Instagram to connect with the closest people. Perhaps the others will have now wondered what happened to me. I don’t know for sure, because I no longer see direct messages on Instagram.
Has it been difficult? No, because I had reached a point where Instagram had saturated me. Nothing really fresh and new came to me, and so it felt that my voice had also gone silent.
Without Instagram I am more focused on work without the obsession to think, I could share this on stories.
Because the truth, whether you want it or not, is universal: Instagram is taking away from us the possibility of going deep into things.
We find it increasingly difficult to dedicate ourselves to focused and concentrated work, immerse ourselves in a book or a film, dedicate ourselves to writing something introspective that is not in an insta-caption format, or simply enjoy an experience. This is because our mind is increasingly reprogramming to think if and what to share. We are so oriented on finding ideas for sharing and on showing what we do that we lose the depth of our experience, the ability to observe, take on constructive boredom, or indulge in true creativity.
This is why I took a step back.
I am not going to get crushed by this mechanism, this social media addiction, especially in a period such as the current one. This is a golden opportunity, for those who are able to seize it, to reset, and stay inside ourselves instead of inside of someone else’s highlight reel. This is an opportunity to self-analyze and work on ourselves—a time to redesign the future with more authenticity.
And so, for now, I’ll remain away from the ultimate distraction a little longer. I’ll remain in IG detox.
What about you?