Small Differences I Notice When I'm on Instagram Vs. When I Delete It

I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram.

Most days, I genuinely enjoy the app. But during certain times in my life—namely when I'm stressed out or sad—the app only serves to make me feel worse.

Unsplash: Woman lounging next to pool on her phone

(via Unsplash)

I'm not exactly sure what it is. I don't follow any Instagram influencers or models. Heck, I don't even really follow celebrities. To my conscious knowledge, I don't spend my time on the app comparing my life to anyone else's. In my mind, Instagram is a nice time-waster—a place to find memes and keep up with friends, family, and acquaintances.

However, lately I've been trying to separate myself from the app on a more regular basis. Every couple weeks or so, I'll delete Instagram for a few days, allowing myself to take a short digital detox. As much as I can't put my finger on exactly what it is about Instagram that makes me feel bad, I notice a definite difference when I'm on the app vs. when I delete.

When I'm On: I Waste Time

If I have Instagram installed on my phone, I waste so much time scrolling through the app. The second I get bored or even remotely uncomfortable, I whip out my trusty Instagram and spend the next 10 minutes mindlessly scrolling through content and clicking on stories. The problem is, a short break turns into a long one really fast. I'll open the app with the intention of taking a short rest from my work—a minute at most. Before I even realize, I've wasted away 10 valuable minutes on nothing. 


And When I Delete: I Work Faster

When I delete Instagram, I absolutely work faster. If I need to take a quick break or rest my mind for a few minutes, I don't really have anything to occupy my time. I'll take a step away, but without Instagram to distract me I usually get back into my work pretty quickly. When I don't have the annoying distraction of Instagram, I also interrupt my work less. I'm able to stay focused longer because I know there's nothing else I could be doing. I can't scroll through Instagram, so I may as well keep trucking along.

Blair and Serena looking at Serena's phone on Gossip Girl

(Gossip Girl via The CW)


When I'm On: I Occupy Myself With Stupid Things

As I've said, I try to limit my Instagram to friends and family. Not only do I like keeping my Instagram pretty personal, I also hope to lessen my distractions my keeping my account limited in scope. Of course, that doesn't stop me from looking up outside accounts and engaging in plenty of Instagram stalking. When I'm on  the app, I occupy myself with so many stupid questions. I don't even know where they come from, but one minute I'll be looking at my sister's story and suddenly I'll find myself four weeks deep in a rabbit hole of MTV reality stars.

I think it's because all the information is right there. If I have a sudden random question, all I have to do is go to their account and find the answer. And if Instagram is on my phone, I can't resist the urge to click right then and get to my digital stalking.


And When I Delete: I Can Shove Those Questions Aside

I'm a procrastinator at heart, a truth I've worked my entire life to change. When I'm on Instagram, my stupid questions don't just disappear. I'm fully convinced they're a mutiny on the part of my brain—an attempt to keep me distracted from important things I need to get done. However, if I don't have the app on my phone, I don't have the ability to give in to them. Without Instagram, I can successfully talk myself out of wondering about that Bachelor couple I'm obsessed with or whether my boyfriend tagged me in any funny memes. When I'm off Instagram, those superficial questions don't take as much space in my brain. I don't know what positive effect that has, but I certainly enjoy the feeling.

Unsplash: Girl with painted nails looking at cell phone and texting

(via Unsplash)


When I'm On: I'm More Irritable

An irritating fact about myself and Instagram: When I'm on the app, that's the only thing I'm doing. I don't like to be distracted and I tend to get pretty attached to whatever black hole of content I've found myself sucked into. Because of that, I tend to be pretty darn irritable when I'm on the app. If someone interrupts what I'm doing or tries to talk to me while I'm scrolling Instagram, I feel pretty annoyed. It's so dumb—it's just an app, after all—but it's also something I struggle to fight.


And When I Delete: I'm Happier

When I'm off Instagram, I don't have that content devil sitting on my shoulder tempting me to dive in. I'm not distracted by looking at my phone, which means I'm much happier and significantly more focused in my interactions with other people. I don't snap at people for interrupting my Instagram time or wish a subpar conversation could end so I could see what my pals are up to online. I'm exaggerating the general feeling, but you get the point. Off Instagram, I'm focused on what's happening in the real world, with much more patience and joy to give to the people I interact with on a daily basis.

Easy A: Emma Stone on phone doing thumbs up

(Easy A via Screen Gems)


When I'm On: I Feel Anxious

I'm an anxious person in general—I'm the first to admit it. I'll happily describe myself as a chronic over-thinker. But I absolutely notice a difference in my anxiety when I'm on Instagram and when I'm off. When I have the app downloaded, my anxiety seems to get out of hand much more quickly. My mind isn't only bogged down by my own worries, it's also filled with thoughts about the many accounts and content I've been viewing all day long. Being on Instagram doesn't give my mind a minute to rest. Instead, it just adds to my list of things to over-think about, which leads to anxiety-filled days.


And When I Delete: I Feel Calm(er)

As I said, I'm anxious in general, so I don't ever expect my anxiety to fully disappear. However, when I delete Instagram, I find that I'm much more equipped to deal with negative feelings. I owe that to two things. One, I'm not subconsciously soaking in the successes and failures of other people and the larger world. On Instagram, I have instant access to everyone who's doing better and worse than me, as well as certain content about the sad state of the world at large. Even if I don't think it has an effect on me, I know that it does—my lessened anxiety when I delete the app proves it.

Two, my mind actually has space to be quiet. If I'm taking a break or just sitting somewhere, my mind actually gets to rest instead of experiencing constant stimulation by the content on social media. I truly believe those little brain breaks help to ease the worries in my head, lessening my anxious thoughts overall.


Don't struggle with Instagram like I do? Great! In that case, click HERE for five ways to create a unique Instagram aesthetic.