I love Instagram. I love scrolling, stalking and storying and I love the instant and in-depth insight it gives me into the world of my close circle and otherwise unobtainable celebrities alike. I make mood boards of beauty looks I love and interiors I aspire to, stashing them away in my saved posts. I have countless ongoing DMs with friends, sharing meme after meme after meme as well as messing around with the latest filters. And yet, two weeks ago, without forewarning, I deleted the app off my phone entirely.
A bit of context; two weeks ago, my house was broken into, ransacked and burgled. The feeling of intrusion was almost unbearable; they'd riffled through birthday cards, books, photos, jewellery and clothes as well as walking away with laptops and phones that held thousands of photos and little fragments of my life. They'd smashed through every drawer, every cupboard and every shelf, stealing my possessions, while simultaneously destroying my personal privacy and my sense of sanctuary.
I suddenly felt fiercely protective of my privacy and my life and the idea of sharing even any information, no matter how seemingly superficial, to anyone other than the people I trust unconditionally, was entirely unfathomable. I felt paranoid and untrusting, and consequently went into total lock down mode. I equipped my house with alarm systems and cameras, multiple locks and bolts, and changed every password I could think of. And I deleted Instagram.
While I haven't really used Facebook or Twitter for years, but my Instagram page is a true window into my life with realtime posts and musings posted on a near daily basis. I reveal where I am, who I'm with and what I feel. And to make yourself so exposed at a time when you feel so vulnerable and violated is not appealing.
Of course, I've read all about the negative effect social media has on our mental health as have I experienced the effects first hand - the feelings of inadequacy, FOMO and self-doubt that ensue after scrolling through too many perfectly posed pictures are surely inevitable for any user. But I always felt, subconsciously, that the benefits outweighed the negatives, and that Instagram was a important instrument in modern life and so I would have my phone glued to my hand at all times, on standby for the next Instagrammable moment.
But I didn't delete it for wellness sake, this wasn't a 'digital detox', and I didn't experience pining for my phone or withdrawal pangs from not having it anymore. I didn't actually care what other people were up to or the fact that I hadn't posted in days - I could only just about process what was going on in my own life and the thought of posting anything made me feel uneasy.
After a few days I began to regain something that social media often takes away from you - appreciation for your friends. Not your followers, or your likers, nor the influencers you follow or celebrities you aspire to be like. I'm talking about the people who you can call to on the phone and who you see in real life. The people whose houses you've been to, whose parents you've met and whose birthdays you know. And while I have always known that deep down, my actions were speaking otherwise; I would be on Instagram while in their company; reading and not replying to messages, instead switching apps to scroll through my feed. Deleting my Instagram made me refocus my interest and time on the people who matter, and I've become more curious as to what they're doing, rather than people I, quite frankly, don't really care about.
Another thing I liked about my week without Instagram was being under the radar. No one knew where I was or what I was doing unless I told them directly. My Instagram isn't private and while I can check who likes my photos, I have no clue who is looking at them in general. Being off the grid and not documenting my day eased the paranoia that I was being watched or that my actions were exposed to the wrong people.
As well as a renewed perspective, deleting the app off my phone also broke bad habits. Before, I would pick up my phone and spend shameful amounts of time on Instagram totally mindlessly. After I put it down I wouldn't even be able recall what I had been looking at. There was no conscious connection to my actions, it was just the force of habit. Now, not only do I check my Instagram less often, but I'm more engaged when I do check in - actually appreciating the pictures people have chosen to share with me and the world.
Obviously, I didn't delete my account altogether and I downloaded the app back onto my phone the following week. But ever since, I've been far more savvy and reserved about how I approach posting. Most importantly, I never geotag my location until after I've left the place where I was. This never really occurred to me before but to publish your location in real time is a pretty stupid thing to do. Not only does it provide anyone and everyone with your exact geographical coordinates, but it also let's people know where you're not (i.e. at home). I also take social media for what it is - it's a great way to share pictures with a large amount of people. But that's it.
This article originaly appeared on GLAMOUR UK