I recently took a break from social media. Well, really Instagram because that is really the only platform I use anymore. I decided in December of 2017 to delete my Facebook permanently, which was honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made. But I still kept Instagram because I love seeing the life of others through photos. It’s how I view life, always with an image in my mind and so I connect with the little squares better than just a bunch of random words being posted with a stream of other nonsense. At least that is how I view Facebook.
Well, this past December I decided it was time to take a break from Instagram too. I wasn’t ready to call it complete quits, but I needed a reality check. You see, when life gets tougher than the typical every day things that are hard, I shut down. I choose to escape reality. I typically do this by either watching waaaay too much TV, getting lost in books or in this instance getting sucked into the realities of others on Instagram.
When my mom got diagnosed with cancer, again, this past November it was hard to face reality. I knew if I thought about it too much I would go on crazy tangents of the “what if’s”. So, I escaped to Instagram. Watching videos of animals doing cute things, or people creating incredible cakes, or just watching the many Instastories of all the influencers and friends I follow. Everyone else’s life, at least in those curated squares, seemed much more fun to be sucked into than the reality outside of my tiny phone screen.
December came and the day of my moms surgery was upon us. There were six of us there, waiting ever so anxiously during her surgery. But, we were only allowed four of us in the waiting room, no exceptions. So, I volunteered to stay behind in case a doctor or nurse came in to update us, while the rest of my family went to the cafe area to wait out the 10 hour day. It was one of the longest days of my life and I had plenty of time to think.
During that time I spent my day watching peoples lives on Instagram, but it all suddenly became so meaningless. It was a distraction from the day, but it didn’t change the reality of what was going on around me. And I decided that I was going to take a break from social media. It was time for me to connect to the reality around me and not the reality of others through my screen. There is so much more to life than what my tiny hand-held computer can provide me.
Today was the first day that I logged back on to Instagram. Two and a half months being social media free. Which in our day and age, I think, is a feat. I honestly have been hesitating for weeks on if I wanted to re-download that little app. I have even been contemplating re-deleting it multiple times since I downloaded it this morning. I realized that I have enjoyed not having that little button on my phone. It has been more of a freeing experience than I thought it would be.
I feel like I have created more time for myself to think, to breath, to not feel like I had to connect with my phone instead of the life that is being lived in front of me. I love taking pictures but during this time I only took pictures because of the beauty of something (or my cats) not because I had to post it to social media. Also, the comparison that I was beginning to let myself get wrapped up in went away. I wasn’t constantly thinking about how to make my little page be more interesting and more likable but I no longer had the pressure of trying to impress this world of people that had no real connection with me.
How did our world suddenly get so invested in trying to impress and connect with the people that we only meet through our phones? What happened to wanting to do that with the people that are around us? I am grateful for technology, don’t get me wrong. One of my best friends lives in another state and without technology we would not have the relationship we have today. And Instagram has it’s perks too, I have bought a lot of different products I love because of the recommendation from an influencer I follow. or even come up with fun design ideas that I want to try one day.
But, like everything in life there has to be a balance. I want to find that. I love photos. I love taking them. I love seeing other peoples perspective through a camera. I love ideas and inspiration. I loved Instagram because it was the one platform that I felt most connected to. But it also became this thing that I couldn’t live without. I had to constantly check to see what was being posted. I had to watch all of my Instastories to see what fascinating things people were sharing. I had to post to see if I could get a bunch of likes to see if people liked what I posted just as much or more than someone else.
I want to keep being inspired by others. I want to enjoy looking at other photographers work. I want to keep up with friends from my past to see what’s going on in their lives. But I also want to connect on a deeper level. I don’t want social media to be the only way I connect to people and the life I am living. I want to spend more time calling people or going out to coffee. To enjoy the moment I am in with the person I am with rather than trying to figure out how we can get the best photo op to remember our time together. Because am I really experiencing the person I am with if I am constantly trying to think up the best way to get a photo?
I want to be more present in my life. I want to be more present in the life of those around me. I don’t have it all figure out yet. I still had other things, during those two and a half months, that pulled me away from reality now and again. But overall I feel like I connected with people more and was more pro-active about making time for things that need to be more important in my life.
Connecting with the world around me in a world that is able to connect with the entire world with a click of a button will always be a challenge, but it’s a challenge I am willing to accept. Because the people close to me and the things around me deserve more than just a passing glance and the thought of how I can make this into a great Instagram post. The deserve my full attention. They deserve the fullness of my presence just as much as I desire theirs.
So, moving forward you will notice my phone being put aside more and more, and my face less and less in front of it. Instead you will get to see my face more and my hand reaching out for more connection with the ones I love.
Photo By Three Feathers Photography