Wednesday, October 27, 2021

How I became obsessed with Instagram – and then quit

This piece comes to us from Waverly Deutsch, editorial director at Flavorwire and the author of the upcoming book, “Young. Burned. Rebellious.”

My morning alarm goes off at 5:45 and I’m already thinking about which product I will be wearing this morning. Another workout. A sample run on the drone-laced streets of an ambitious Manhattan studio. And, of course, this new, mysteriously awesome new handbag I’ve tried on and almost been hoisted over my head in hopes of getting that perfect selfie. In such a world, how will you survive?

Instagram is the ultimate “lifestyle algorithm” – setting the tone for who you are, where you’re going, how you think. And it is not okay.

As a new mother, when I look back at the days leading up to my daughter’s birth, I stare at my phone waiting for to-do lists to be completed, pictures to upload, inspirational quotes to analyze. Over and over again, my mind reels at the unrealized dreams, the tired schedule. As her mother, I am meant to have little patience for this. As a creative person, I’m often up past my bedtime. The only respite is when I roll over and throw down with my baby girl to cuddle and hear her laughing.

But then, just when I think I might write off this myself, Instagram takes over my phone, reminding me of the days when I was much younger and much less responsible – the “before”s, not the “afters” of my present self.

It reminds me that when I was a teenager, this picture wasn’t of my middle-aged wife. And it reminds me that my best friend is still alive.

I looked at her “before” picture (from two years ago) and wondered if it was an age I no longer belonged in. I looked at hers (from today) and thought, “Oh God, I am never getting to see her again.”

The person I became on Instagram is someone else’s reality, the opposite of my present self. They’re doing something today – smiling in a selfie, relaxing by the pool, striking a pose in a colorful ensemble or gushing over a new update on a smartphone. I’m nowhere in sight. And so I’m left with a foggy, self-deprecating depression.

Instagram only exacerbates my complex. For those who don’t believe me, take this hashtag:

“No one has anything to worry about. Instagram is my life, though”: #Whatever

A photo posted by Chloe Ephron (@chloeephron) on Apr 30, 2015 at 11:19am PDT

What on earth was I thinking? The disconnect I feel from my own “face” made me want to feel worse about myself. It’s exactly the sort of comment I don’t want to hear about myself, my work, or anyone else who happens to be young and focused. Because when you’re younger, you truly don’t understand what it’s like to struggle with difficult mental health conditions or to be seriously ill. It’s easy to feel depression, fear, jealousy and angst; it’s hard to understand what it takes to overcome the fatigue of a life filled with pressing demands and chaotic schedules.

Indeed, for those who are newer to Instagram and have a new baby on their hands, the time it takes to upload those many images of baby, play date and Kabbalah lessons is endless. Your time is in deficit. And no one will ever tell you – no one but you – why that is. And no one can help you to make any sense of why you feel this way.

But they can support you. Help you to get the help you so desperately need.

Help you to seek it out. Help you to go back on Instagram, switch up the filters on your phone and get back to the real things you love and need to take care of – and help you to find your way out of the haze of adolescence and adulthood.

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