in: Wellness

What I Learned from an (Attempted) Instagram Detox

Social media is good. Sometimes a little too good. Let’s see what happens when the always-sweet Sarah Frost tries to curb her habit with an Instagram detox.


Disclaimer: this is not exactly a story about doing exactly what you set out to do. Mostly because I didn’t; but I learned some fun things along the way. It’s all about the journey, isn’t it?

I like social media—to a degree. I live across the country from many of my friends and all of my family, so I enjoy knowing what they’re up to on Facebook. I like Twitter because I say a good amount of random things—most of which don’t make sense. It’s a nice outlet for the overwhelmingly large random part of my brain. It also saves my friends’ from a ridiculous amount of texts about nothing.

Instagram is appealing because it allows us a way to memorialize our lives. As humans, we want to make an impact, to be remembered. Pictures let us do that in their own way, and Instagram is the modern iteration of that. So, it’s a thing.

Similar to all social media, though… we, as a culture, often get caught up in it. I’ve deleted Facebook profiles three or four times and shut down my Twitter feed probably just as many. I’ve yet to take a real break from Instagram, though.

So, I thought I would try it.

At the beginning of December, I vowed to post one picture on Instagram a week. Truthfully, I’m kind of obsessed with the insta, so this proved overwhelmingly difficult given my usual sometimes-three-or-four daily Instagram posts.

I was successful for (approximately) half a week.

Then, my favorite band played a show supporting a cause very dear to my heart. And the four-day streak was broken. Because it’s a picture of many things that make me happy, and what could that hurt?

Then the sky looked pretty. And I wanted to take a picture of the recipe my mom sent me for some of my holiday favorites. I also started an Advent calendar and wanted to take pictures of some of the fun activities I completed.

Then the Christmas cards! And my dog is adorable. And I just cannot get over how much I love whiskey most days.

And did I mention I kind of love the way the sky looks at sunset?

So, I thought I’d try again when January began. Same song, different verse basically. I failed miserably.

But did I?

I was intentional with the pictures I posted. I made sure every moment I memorialized was something I actually wanted to remember.

I enjoy remembering things. I mean, that’s why we take pictures—to remember moments in time that captured our hearts. To give us something to look at later to remember those moments, perhaps when our hearts need a little reminder why they’re beating. And what’s the harm in that?

Social media becomes dangerous when we let it control what we say and do, or our decision-making skills in general. But it’s not bad at its core—it’s a way to stay connected. Part of the problem is we simply become obsessed with looking the way we think people want us to look.

And it’s not real.

But is that actually true? Is it actually not true, or is it just the best moments of a life?

At the start of this year—about three days in, when I realized I was failing miserably at this Instagram thing—I thought about my motives for posting so many photos.

I’m afraid of losing them—the moments that meant so much to me. In an electronic world, there are many ways to back up files, photos, music… pretty much anything we want. But hard drives crash and memories are lost all the time. And the idea of not having this collection of all these moments that brought me so much joy absolutely terrifies me. Because I am clumsy as hell and I lose things constantly, and—as my mother so eloquently put it for most of my life—[I] would lose [my] head if it wasn’t attached.

So I suppose I figure the more places I put memories, the less chance I have of forgetting them. Life is so short and so full of so many things at the same time. I’m guilty of taking on far too many tasks and getting way too busy. So I forget. I forget about the look in my friends’ eyes when I haven’t seen them in months, or the feeling when I saw that band play that one song that sends chills up my spine. So I take pictures to trigger those memories, those feelings.

And I want something to look at in 50 years. For the exact same purpose.

Even if it’s just a text conversation with my best friend who knows exactly why I’m watching Four Weddings and a Funeral on a Monday morning (Hugh Grant, duh).

Even if it’s just that moment the sky hit the horizon line and made me so aware that I’m not alone here, and made me feel okay for a little while.

Even if it’s just cuddles with my puppy to end a difficult day.

I want to remember it all, because it really is all about the journey. And all of those things make up my journey.

So, yes, to many people the amount of Instagram posts I make each day is borderline ridiculous. Which is okay, I suppose, because it’s not about them. It’s about my life and the things that make me the happiest in the world.

Around the same time I started evaluating my picture posting criteria, I decided to post a picture each day of something that makes me happy. For the entire year. Do I have to post this on Instagram? No. I could just as easily keep them in my phone and to myself. But I don’t want to. Because joy is contagious—as is happiness—and I’d like to share mine.

And did I mention my dog is the cutest? Her face will pretty much make anyone’s day.

About the Author:

Sarah Frost

Sarah Frost thinks life is one big adventure—and should be treated that way. She grew up in Texas and quickly realized humidity is no one's best friend. Somewhere along the way she fell in love with words, and wanted to write as often as she could, so she does that as often as she can. She believes there's good in every day and the world was made for traveling, so she spends her time laughing as loudly as possible and looking for her next adventure.

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