After a little over 6 weeks (Lent), I went without scrolling on my personal Instagram account. The challenge I set for myself was to only check messages occasionally, post if needed and spend some time on the company Instagram account for obvious reasons. Let’s jump right into why the heck I’d do this and what I got out of it.
WHY? I found myself checking my Instagram feed the second I woke up each morning and falling asleep in bed scrolling. I’d pick my phone up for a purpose and immediately forget what I was doing because my thumb was on auto-pilot and always opened the Instagram app. I’d get lost in the rabbit hole, finding out what my best friend’s husband’s friend’s sister-in-law was having for lunch. I noticed certain posts would influence parts of my life like seeing people on a patio having drinks on a nice day, when I had planned to do something productive, all of a sudden I had an urge to get on a patio too (maybe FOMO?). Scroll past a photo of a beautiful green smoothie, and then a donut…now what am I to do!?
Months before I began my Instagram detox, I downloaded the Moment app to track just how much screen time I was spending on that little device I had become a slave to.
Well, the first day I was Instagram-less, my Moment app told me I had spent 2 hours and 45 minutes LESS screen time than the day before. I felt sick to my stomach. You mean to tell me I spent nearly 3 hours of my life mindlessly scrolling on Instagram every day?! The first step is always the hardest: admitting you have a problem. You guys. I’m Natalie Wolfe and I had (past tense) an Instagram problem.
As I went through the 46 days of no scrolling, I took notes on how I was feeling and what differences I noticed. The results were astounding. First off, I’m done with my detox and I don’t feel the need to scroll on Instagram! You can hold the applause…
Gained Quality Time with Husband/Friends/Family/Pup
Less time scrolling meant more quality time with my husband, family and friends. Not only that, it meant time free of distraction…but also hyper-sensitive to others on their phones. How often do you go to a restaurant and see an entire table hunched over staring at their phones? Probably every time you go out. This actually makes me scared for our future, so ditching my phone made me soak in the conversation, actually listen when someone spoke to me and made me much more intentional with my time spent with those who I care about and love. More puppy walks, catch-up time over coffee, calling a long-distance best friend, etc.
Read 3 Books
I had time to read!!! It felt like a vacation. In the past, I’d grab my book/Kindle and plop down on the couch but would need to get just a few minutes of scrolling out of the way…only to have an entire hour pass and lost my window of reading time. Anyone else? This time, my phone was plugged in across the room and I gave myself permission to just relax and read. I blew through 3 books in 6 weeks and felt a LOT more fulfilled than I ever do post-obsessing over the discover tab on Instagram.
Listened to Podcasts
Again, I consumed quality content. I was choosy about how I spent my time, and when I had some time riding in the car during road trips (thanks husband for driving!) if I needed a break from work, I’d listen to either this podcast or this one. I was learning new things, getting inspired and feeling motivated.
Focused on Me
Like I mentioned before, I found that after seeing posts from everyone and anyone, I would be convinced I needed avocado toast for breakfast and that I NEEDED a margarita on the patio that evening. Without the scrolling, I didn’t care what others were doing. Because it does not matter. I shifted my focus to what I needed and what those around me needed and I came out of the whole thing a lot happier. Do you have that person you follow on Instagram and feel annoyed every time they post? Let me ask you this: why are you following them? Do yourself a favor and unfollow those who negatively impact your day and make you feel discouraged, annoyed, upset or triggered. No one needs that. Take it a step further and avoid it altogether for a little detox!
Missed Some Important Announcements
The few times I would log in to check on messages, there were about 4 baby announcements and 5 engagements or weddings that happened. I felt like I was missing on big life announcements, but also knew that if they were close to me, I’d find out in person or over the old school telephone.
Had Legitimate Catch-Up Time
You know when you ask your friend what they did over the weekend but you already know the answer to your own questions because you saw their play-by-play Insta Stories? I didn’t actually know the answer to that question. The answer I generally got was “Oh, you know. It was fun to get away!” To which I replied “No, I really don’t know. Where did you go?” It felt weird and archaic but strangely refreshing that A) people didn’t know my weekend hour-by-hour and B) I got to actually catch up with friends who matter and hear their experienced first hand instead of with a Valencia filter and a polished catchy caption.
Didn’t Feel The Need to Capture Everything & Experienced Things First
THIS IS SO INCREDIBLY FREEING. I was that girl grabbing her phone when her cute cocktail was served to her. Ew. Although, I must admit, if it’s a bougie enough drink, I’ll probably still do that, but I am free from the shackles of oversharing on Insta-Stories. I love that I can experience life through my own eyes and not through the viewfinder on my iPhone, and when I do snap photos, it’s not for my followers and friends. It’s for myself or to show my husband/friends/text to them directly.
Ok, Instagram is not evil. There are some redeeming qualities. I think Instagram, when used sparingly, is great for inspiration (motivation, recipes, new restaurant openings…), is great for big life announcements and staying connected to those who aren’t nearby. I won’t be ditching Instagram scrolling for life, but I would encourage you to take a cold turkey detox from social media (maybe Facebook is your vice?) and see what it does for your life. Even 24 hours social media-free may be just what the doctor ordered. Free yourself, create some space in your day and see what follows.