social media

(Not) Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Allison here, your local Snapchat user.

I’m hyper vigilant with my time, despite wasting great swaths of it every day. I have perfected being agonizingly anxious about how I spend my time while simultaneously managing to be a terrible procrastinator watching hours of my day pass away wasted. I scroll though useless websites, check Snapchat 47 times more than necessary, and worst of all, I spend endless time on Instagram. I don’t know when I started spending so many hours scrolling through my feed, looking at random celebrities accounts, and stalking people I used to know in 1963 when we fought in ‘Nam together. (Just kidding I only fought in WWI and II).

I’ve wanted to delete Instagram for about six months. When I first had the desire, it was a small notion. It seemed like simple math: I spent hours scrolling through my feed, perfecting my own flow of photos. Without the app, that time could be redirected to more meaningful pursuits. Perhaps I could learn how to code or possibly get around the actually cracking open Les Miserables, which had been sitting on my shelf since seventh grade.

I floated the idea of deleting my account past my brother. He looked shocked; I didn’t know someone could care this much about an app. “But your photos are so good,” he had said. “People even compliment me about how nice your posts are. How could you delete it?”

And so I didn’t.

A few more months passed. With dismay I realized how much time it was consuming in my day. I used it to “rewind” every night, but really I found myself two hours later with achy eyes, wishing I had just gone to sleep when I had first gotten in bed.

Then, a friend of mine deleted her account. Simple as that. Someone posted a photo of her and she wasn’t tagged in it. I thought it was odd so I searched her name. Her account wasn’t there. It seemed so simple. So easy. And so I deleted my app too.

Here is my progression of an Instagramless existence.

Day 1

I check iMessage. I have four unread messages. I answer my friend’s question about calculus homework, trying to show integral notation in a text message. I send a snarky pun to Erica, who responds with her own witty insight. Messages answered, I return to my home screen. I open Neko Atsume, a Japanese app focused on luring cats into your virtual backyard. (A genius creation, if I might interject). There are ten cats in my virtual yard and their food is plentiful. I close the app. I swipe left to my second page of apps. I click on the space Instagram once occupied. Instead, my reminders app lives there now; the program opens, and I realize this may have been the first time I’ve ever used reminders. I realize its at least the second time, as I have a reminder from 2014 telling me to watch Donnie Darko. (I never got around to actually watching the film, which is probably a good thing).

I swipe back to my home screen in confusion. There is nothin to scroll through. No photos to look at, no witty captions to make me laugh. I turn off my phone and put it on my lap. Ten seconds later I turn on my phone again and repeat an eerily similar process. Messages. Neko Atsume. Accidental opening of the Reminder app. Donnie Darko. I put my phone down again, dissatisfied.

Day 2

Every time I turn on my phone I am surprised at how little there is to do without having to check my Instagram feed. I check Snapchat and iMessage, even though I know I have no new notifications. I turn off my phone and reengage with the people I’m standing near.

Day 3

I spend time going on random websites and needlessly checking my email when I’m bored. Even though I knew how much time I was spending on Instagram, I’m surprised how the habit has followed me even without the app. I feel a need to waste time, to zone out every few hours when I get sick of homework. When I’m with people and the conversation lulls, I find myself pulling out my phone and wishing I had never ending content to scroll through.

Day 5

The day passes without event. When I plug my phone in at the end of the night, the battery is on 50%. Usually it has already died.

Day 7

I read a book for the first time in a few months (if any of my Omnibus teachers are reading this, I’m sorry. I’m incredibly behind in my reading assignments. Such is senior year.) and manage to enjoy it. I leave my phone upstairs.

Day 10

Erica asks me if I deleted my Instagram account. I let her know I just took the app off my phone, and if I want to log into my account sometime in the future, it will be there, waiting for me. Instinctively, I check my account online, after she brought it up. My follower count hasn’t changed. I feel surprisingly unattached. I close the webpage and carry on with my day.

I’m perhaps not-so-surprisingly still addicted to my phone. I keep checking my notifications and I open up Snapchat more times than I care to admit. But I haven’t missed Instagram. I don’t miss looking through hundreds of photos every day, trying to keep up with everyone and everything. When Erica brings up my account, I tell her I can start using my account whenever I want. But for the first time since I deleted the app, I don’t actually want it back in my life.