Scrolling through Instagram sometimes feels like an obstacle course for my self-esteem. Whether I’m confronted with someone’s more lavish lifestyle or flatter stomach or more positive perspective on parenting, I’m often left feeling like...not enough.
It’s hard not to wonder about the effects has on our relationships, career, parenting habits and life in general. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat—the words have become their own verbs, for goodness sake!
Lately, I have become kind of sick of it, to be honest. I’ve always been someone who has enjoyed . I haven’t lived near my family or childhood friends for over a decade, so I have mostly loved this simple, fun way to keep in touch with people. I even liked following certain brands and personalities for the same inspiration I sought out on other online platforms, only now they came right to my social feeds!
But when I became a mom, the self-doubt increased. While I loved seeing my friends’ babies filling up my feed (seriously, I was never one of those people who complained about that!), I suddenly became inundated with different parenting philosophies and pressure to keep up with the milestones of others. Should I be doing that? Should I not be doing that? Should I have lost the baby weight quicker? Should my daughter be taking that class?
I found myself feeling really competitive about really stupid things. I found myself not liking the person I was becoming.
Social media was also doing a number on my self-confidence. I don’t consider myself a terribly insecure person, but it was getting harder and harder to shrug off feelings of being left out or slighted or just somehow lacking.
As a wise friend said, “Ten years ago, when your friends hung out without you, you might hear about it a week later. Now, you get to watch it as it happens.”
So I decided to take a break. I didn’t make a big deal out of it (most of my friends may not have even realized it happened), but for the first two weeks of the year, I deleted Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat from my phone. I let myself check Facebook occasionally, but solely for work-related things. The other two were strictly avoided.
Here’s how it went:
Day 1: Deleting the apps was easier than I thought! Honestly, they had started to become more burdensome than fun (“Must…see…entire…feed…”), and the inevitable drama tired me out. Maybe this would be easy!
Day 4: I finally bring up my social media fast with two of my closest friends, and they both immediately complain that they now “have no idea” what I’m up to anymore. “I used to wonder where you were and check your Instagram story, and then I would know. Now, NOTHING,” one tells me. I’ve spent most of my adolescence trying to cultivate an air of mystery, and now I may have officially found the key.
Day 7: The first week is over. While I miss having something to do on my phone when I get stuck waiting for the baby to wake up in the car or for someone to show up for an appointment (I’ve been checking our office Slack channel A LOT lately), I have to admit I don’t really feel like I’m missing anything. Are people taking vacations I can’t afford? Is someone being a better mom than I am? I have no idea. And…I’m kind of great with that.
Day 10: Apparently people are noticing that I’ve been absent online because a fourth person texts me to see if I’m okay. “I haven’t seen pictures of Vivi in forever!” Which is comforting because I do enjoy putting effort into my posts. And it’s also a confirmation of the excuse I’ve been making for not leaving social media long ago: It’s the easiest way to keep my long-distance friends and family up-to-date on my daughter.
Day 14: I finally add back my apps and log in with mixed feelings about my experiment.
I can’t say removing social media from my life made me feel like a better mom. Sure, I probably spent less time wrapped up in my phone, but as a , it seems like there are always things to distract my attention—even if it’s not a DM.
The biggest difference I felt was a shift in perspective. I often hear from friends or read online that social media makes people feel insecure because everyone else seems like they have it all together. I felt fortunate that, because I have worked in the industry, I’ve always been able to peel back the curtain and see it for what it really is—a lot of branding and marketing.
But despite my cavalier attitude, I had started to drift into that insecure world. I sometimes forgot that social media is a highlight reel—not real, everyday life.
By leaving it all behind for a couple of weeks, I felt like I found my footing again. I realized that what people post is so fleeting—if I don’t read it, it doesn’t have any effect on me. So why should it affect me at all?
The fact is, if we all have time to post and scroll and worry, we’re probably doing a lot better than we think we are. And everyone has those moments of doubt about whether or not they’re keeping up.
I’m now back on social media, albeit more sparingly and with a different mindset. And that’s something I will double-tap any day. ?