Tuesday, April 7, 2015

{Lifestyle} Disconnecting from Instagram

This year, for the first time in my life, I observed Lent. I'll have to write another post on another day about what I learned by participating, and exactly why I participated since I'm Protestant, but suffice it to say I rather surprised myself with the depth of what I took away from it. Today, however, I'm focusing on what I learned from taking a break, or fasting, from Instagram for 40 days. 

**During Lent, I alllowed myself a few exceptions. For example, I kept up with my #52weeksofhartlie series, and posted a couple of times for memorable occasions, birthdays, etc. It was mainly the looking at my feed, the scrolling, scrolling, scrolling for minutes up on end that I refrained from.**

Lessons Learned while Fasting from Instagram during Lent::

{1} I spent more meaningful time with my daughters. I didn't feel that incessent need to bring a camera phone to every activity of the day. I got to thinking, do my girls get sick of constantly having a camera thrust in their face while their just trying to play? Probably. It's okay to leave the camera alone and simply interact with them.

{2} I was not as attached to my phone. I was able to leave it in one room rather than carrying it with me around the house. I didn't automatically click the home button to check for notifications, or mindlessly scroll during moments of transition or down time. This was a very freeing feeling.

{3} I had more time to read. During the times when I would have been checking Instagram, I read a book instead. I recently discovered my library's ebook database that allows me to download books to my phone/ipad. It is just as easy to touch that icon and read as it is to touch the Instagram icon and scroll. Reading is an activity that I've always enjoyed but haven't had  much time for lately, so it felt good to get back into that habit. I even completed two books! Even now that Lent is over, I still find myself automatically touching the ebook app to read more often than looking at Insta. Yay for making a new, constructive habit!

{4} When I wanted to take a picture, I reached for my "big camera," my Canon, more often than my iphone. This gave me an opportunity to improve my skill using it, which is something I've wanted to do for a while. Again, another constructive habit formed!

{5} Real talk time. Sometimes I get this feeling, I'm sure you know the one, when I look at other people's pictures. Their perfectly coordinated clothes; their modernly decorated and impossibly clean house with white walls and tons of natural light; their kids with the smocked dresses and clean faces; their spontaneous date night with their husband, complete with heels and a glass of expensive wine; their gourmet meals that somehow meet requirements of both Whole 30 and decadence. And I start wanting what they have, feeling discontent with all the good I have, and suddenly I'm in the middle of a pity party that discolors everything around me for the rest of the day. Or the week. And ya'll. I hate that. I hate that feeling. I hate comparing. It's a chronic disease I've struggled with for years. It's one I've battled and beaten with the sword of Scripture and the help of my God, and it's not one I want to be bedridden with again. Ever. So when Instagram, my current favorite hobby, starts looking a lot like comparison and discontentment and less like inspiration and community, that's when I know I need to step back. Funny how the enemy can turn your favorite thing against you, right? But not me, not from now on. A blogger I follow wrote a fantastic post about this exact subject, one that I bookmarked. Go read it if this is also a struggle for you. 

On the flip side...
{6} I didn't document as much. Sometimes an entire week would go by without a single new picture in my camera roll. I like having pictures of my girls at different ages and phases. I like snapping a selfie with Michael while we're on a date. For some reason, little random pictures like that didn't happen during this time period. This was a little disturbing to me and something I don't want to fall into the habit of.

{7} Instagram has become a hobby: photographing, editing, captioning, curating. I missed that creative outlet. In a lot of ways it has replaced my blog. While I still prefer my blog for longer posts about deeper, more detailed thoughts, Instagram is, well, instant. For most every day moments this is my prefered medium. If I had to pick one thing I missed the most, this is it. I missed the creativity.

{8} I missed the community. I missed knowing the snipets of life of family and friends, of the bloggers and fellow moms I follow. I missed being encouraged and inspired. I've spent a long time, months and months, curating the people I follow on my Instagram, making my feed positive, thought-provoking, inspiring, and refreshing. I like scrolling through their pictures and reading their thoughts in the same way I like reading blogs. I missed that during my fast.

So there you have it. The good and the bad of taking an extended Instagram break.
Would I do it again? Yes, when I felt the need. And I did definitely feel the need, as it had become an obsessive habit for me. Next time, I may not take quite as long a break {unless I choose to do it for Lent again}. I do feel it's constructive to periodically step away, if just for a weekend or a week at a time, just to put a little fissure in that obsesive link my mind creates between me and the shiny, colorful world of Insta.

One final note: Sometimes I'm afraid I've been trapped into thinking that unless I take the picture, I won't have the memory. Like, if I don't Instagram it, then it didn't happen. That is a complete lie and totally false. While I don't have many pictures over the last 40 days or so, I do have some memories. I remember dying Easter eggs. I remember wagon walks around the neighborhood. I remember playing at parks. I remember eating lunch al fresco with my husband in New Orleans. I remember watching Maylin put a sticker on the 1000 books chart at the library when she reached 200. The only picture I have of those moments is one in my mind, and that's okay. That being said, however, it is much easier for me to recall a memory when I see a picture that it represents. From now on I want to have a healthy balance of both mental and digital photographs.

Instagram is great when it's with balance and moderation. I'm glad to be back on, and I'm thankful for what I've learned.

1 comment:

  1. "Sometimes I'm afraid I've been trapped into thinking that unless I take the picture, I won't have the memory. Like, if I don't Instagram it, then it didn't happen. That is a complete lie and totally false."

    YES! I'm there, too. I feel you with the "I want to document things" thought, but I want to remember, too, that we can make memories WITHOUT snapping pictures. Because I do that way, WAY too much. =(