Originally published on Medium
I’ve been bashing Instagram for a long time.
Last week, I decided to finally uninstall the app.
This was not the first time I had thought of doing so. But when you spend years building a following, it’s kinda hard to quit it.
But this time I said “Fuck it let’s do it”.
It was a Saturday. Long press — Drag — Uninstall. Wasn’t that hard.
The next day was a Sunday. As I was accustomed to do it, I was reaching for an app icon that didn’t exist.
The first day was difficult. But I am a busy man, so it wasn’t that I was obsessing over it.
Breezed through the rest of the week. No withdrawal whatsoever.
My brain felt much clearer each day, right from Monday, in-fact. I had headspace to think, which is something I like doing. I was more focused on my work and wasn’t really thinking about Instagram much.
Made me realize that 99% of the things you see on there are so irrelevant that you don’t even feel like you are missing out on something.
I mean think about it, you can’t “miss out” on something that you did not want in the first place. You don’t really ask for the information that Social Media feeds you with. It’s just there for you to consume endlessly.
Would you “miss” food if you were not hungry? Why would you miss the information you did not have the hunger for?
What about the FOMO?
There was no ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ that I had to face.
But you might have to, if you have made Instagram a huge part of your life and aren’t as mentally disciplined as I am.
But, you only grow a muscle by giving it pain. There is no other way. So check your FOMO at the door and get off it. Start with going off for a day, gradually increase from there.
Most of you aren’t even aware of the time you spend on there. Go to Profile>Settings>Your Activity to see the time you are wasting daily.
If this is more than an hour, you should be using that hour somewhere else.
Let’s face it, you use Instagram as an escape tool.
You hop on Instagram as a way to escape the thoughts about your life’s problems. It serves as a good distraction when the midnight thoughts hit you. Keep scrolling until you sleep.
These very thoughts that you are avoiding are meant to be faced, head on. And if they are thoughts that are irrelevant, you need to distract yourself with action, not via passive consumption of memes on Instagram. Try reading a poem.
The general issue with Social Media
Social Media exploits the primal parts of our brain to give us carefully crafted rewards that satisfy the subconscious and leave us craving for more. They literally have teams that work on this. Your attention is their asset, and they do their best to keep you on their platforms longer.
“That thought process was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’ And that means that we need to…give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while [via likes, etc]…and that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you…more likes and comments. It’s a social validation feedback loop.” _Sean Parker (former President at Facebook)
As a modern human, you need to reject this programming you have been force-fed for years. It is not good for you.
Watch this short, funny video of a Monkey scrolling Instagram. The dopamine feedback mechanism is so deep-rooted that even a monkey gets addicted:
You should be bored
The modern social media diet does not leave room for boredom. Even 30 seconds of inactivity makes people grab their phones.
You think when you are bored. And most of you are never bored, because you have this constant source of entertainment in your pocket. This is why most of you never think.
Boredom is probably the most important factor that leads to innovation. The average modern mind is so controlled by impulse that it leaves no room for deliberate action, no room for conscious thought.
"Boredom springs eternal. Its scarcity is an illusion, once you start to look. And when you start to think of boredom as something to embrace, not escape, you start to see potential for it everywhere: Take out your earbuds while you’re jogging, and listen to your breath. Zip your phone up in your backpack on the train, and let your gaze wander over the faces of your fellow riders. The mind requires a certain stillness to rebel against. It can improve you, if you let it." _Joe Fassler
Be bored. Become woke.
What you should do
Uninstall Instagram for a day to begin with. Observe the effects it has on you. You would see yourself thinking, wondering, observing the world. It is pure bliss. No amount of scrolling can beat this feeling of bliss.
If you are so addicted that you cannot uninstall, set a timer: Profile>Settings>Your Activity>Set Daily Reminder. Keep it at 20 minutes. Turn off notifications.
Once you are used to using it lesser, remove it completely. I see no reason to be on Instagram for people who do not have a personal brand or a business page to handle.
It is an act of passive scrolling that produces no short or long term ROI whatsoever. You literally don’t remember what you scrolled past 40 seconds ago.
Long press — Drag — Uninstall.
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” _Blaise Pascal