I did a drastic thing tonight, because that is what I do. I make major sweeping declarations or act on knee-jerk impulses. It's always been my personality. I deactivated my Instagram account. It's gone. To be fair, this decision to take a step back from Instagram isn't really impulsive, or on a whim. I've been struggling with Instagram (really, the internet as a whole) for months, if not the better part of two years. I deleted my Facebook account when I was pregnant with Xavier and had zero interest in ever coming back to it and yet, here I am, friending people from high school and getting caught up in viral posts about whatever the latest thing is.
I've taken days, weeks and once an entire month-long break from Instagram and it hasn't changed my habits. And I'm struggling....a lot. Struggling to stay afloat, above the comparison and judgment and constant scrolling. Struggling to be present in my very own life. Struggling to slow my brain, let alone turn it off sometimes. Struggling to find white space. I've been dealing with some major anxiety and depression again lately and I know - deep in my heart - that my consumption of social media is a lot to blame.
So I deactivated my account tonight. It's gone. When you search for my name, you'll get an error message. It's similar to deactivating Facebook - it's not deleted, so if and when I decide to come back, all my posts will still be there. I'm not sure when or if that's happening yet. I'm not giving myself a timeline. I just know I need a hard break, for awhile.
We are the first generation to be raised alongside the internet. I've had social media since the 7th grade - the majority of my life. There isn't anyone who's been raised on the internet who's gotten to be old and gray to tell us their experience of having it their whole entire lives. We're making it up as we go. And my biggest fear is: what if we're getting it wrong?
What if I'm telling myself my social media consumption is innocent, no big deal, a mindless distraction, when it's really something much bigger? Is this how addiction starts? Will social media addiction someday be recognized as a real affliction, the way addiction to food or gambling or alcohol is? I don't know. I'm not willing to take a chance, not on myself. Not on my life.
Matt and I have been talking a lot about internet boundaries for our kids. Sure, Xavier is only two, but goodness we are realizing how early it starts. We cut out TV completely and he hasn't so much as touched the iPad in months. And yet anytime I pull out my phone, he gravitates to it. After a few minutes of playing with the toys at the library, he wanders over to the computers to press all the buttons. I know this is 2018; technology isn't going anywhere and I have to accept that. But how do I expect to set and enforce social media boundaries for my kids when I don't have any for myself? Talk about a hypocrite.
I want my kids to remember that their mom was present. I don't ever want my kids to wish I hadn't posted a photo of them or shared something about them on the internet. When I really think about it, I'm so grateful that my parents didn't have that option when I was a child. My childhood was mine. Not something to be shared and then dissected by thousands of strangers.
Sure, I'm nervous about the impact taking a break will have on my business. I'm in network marketing...and I just quit my biggest network of 5,600 people. But what is the point of making money or growing my reach or anything really, if I miss my life and lose my soul in the process?
I'm tired of feeling beholden to anything or anyone besides the Lord. I'm tired of feeling trapped in my life and in my habits. We all know what trapped animals do - they react, right? Fight or flight mode. I feel like I've been in such a reactive state these past few weeks and months. I don't want to react to my life. I want to live it, embrace it, be present for it, savor it. I want to capture photos because I want them and not because they fit my aesthetic. I want to leave my phone in a drawer and forget about it entirely for hours, maybe days.
Most of all, I want to live my life for the glory of God alone, and not for likes, comments, followers or "engagement." I'm missing it, I'm missing my life. I'm missing one thousand opportunities to commune with my Creator, to listen to Him and talk to Him. I don't want to miss one more second.