The Year Without An Instagram

(Note: This week I am sharing a few things that have been brewing in my heart about social media this week.  This is the latest installment.)

As so many people did, about a week ago I deleted the Instagram app from my phone.  

In case you missed it, there was a lot of buzz about the new privacy policy, which basically allows Facebook and Instagram to be more blatant in their efforts to spy on you and interfere in your life (I'm exaggerating, but not that much).  From my perspective, the reactions seem to be frantic "get-this-thing-off-my-phone-now" mixed with a side of "but-what-will-I-do-without-Instagram?"  Either that or people just shrugged their shoulders over the Big Brother vibe with an "eh-what-can-you-do?" and went about their merry over-sharing way.

For me, I don't know what category I exactly fall into.  What I can say is that I wasn't panicked.  As I have been sharing my hoarded drafts of posts on this topic, you can probably tell that this move has been brewing for a long time for me.

For the last couple years I took a break from social media over the month of December.  Both times I came back with a fresh perspective on what I was actually doing on social media, and how that habit of checking my phone was affecting my life. Especially after last year's break I realized how addictive Instagram had become for me, that this was a problem.  Still, I didn't feel ready to give it up, and the chaos of 2020 made it difficult to envision cutting ties.  But my unease remained.  

I first started paying attention to Instagram in 2013, when I was pregnant with Clyde.  Back then, it was a fun adjunct to blogging, a way to keep up with people, blog friends and in-person friends, who I really liked and cared about.  Somewhere along the way, it morphed and changed though into something else.  

Instead of enhancing real life relationships, it started to take away from them.  Instead of being an occasional check-in, it started to become a habit.  Instead of sharing, it became curating.  Instead of being a fun way to connect with blog friends, it (almost) killed blogging.

Until, here we are, in 2020, and I find I haven't really enjoyed Instagram in a while.  I have stayed on.  I have escaped into the app in moments of boredom.  I have felt the emotional boost of likes and comments.    I appreciate the artistry of a well-curated feed, and I like seeing my pictures in a little grid.  But I don't enjoy it anymore.

I don't feel good about the way I reach for my phone too often through the day.

I resent the time it takes away from other hobbies, like reading and blogging.

I feel guilt (conviction?) over the attention it steals from my family.

I struggle with the constant opportunity for comparison, only a flick of a finger away.

I hate the yucky feeling I have when I wake up from scrolling and realize I just wasted 20 minutes of my life that I'll never get back.

So no, when Instagram announced it's new invasive policies, I wasn't panicked.  It was the final straw, but I was already sliding that pack off the camel's back before.  

Maybe it's time we rethink some of these platforms.  Maybe it's time we adjust the way we use them.  Maybe we should spend more time thinking about the way social media has impacted us as a society, the way we interact with each other, in negative ways.  Maybe it's time we demand a righting of some of the wrongs.  I'm glad the conversation is starting, because I think even a social media enthusiast may have that sneaking feeling, deep down, that something isn't right here.  Social media isn't going away, but maybe it should change.  We need to figure this out.

For me though, I'm looking ahead to 2021 as the year without the 'gram.  My first in seven years.

A couple months ago, as I was brainstorming post topic ideas, I wrote this down:

"Title: Finding The Balance: Setting A Different Kind Of Social Media Goal 

- my goal is to figure out a way to get instagram off my phone for good."

This has been on my heart a while.  I have known something needed to change, I felt that conviction in my heart.  This is the time.

And I have to tell you something.  I didn't realize how much of a burden Instagram had become for me until the last couple weeks - these fresh and bright weeks when I haven't been on it at all, and don't intend on going back, and realize I don't even miss it all that much.

I feel lighter.

I feel free.

(I broke out my fuzziest sweater and most Christmas-y cup this morning, before we take down the tree this weekend.)

But what can we do instead of Instagram?

I write this little add-on to my post fully knowing that there are some of you who can't give up Instagram. Some of you run businesses that would suffer greatly if you deleted Instagram, and if you have reservations regarding the app and are simultaneously earning an income with it, I can't imagine your struggle.  I hope you find work-arounds for some of the privacy violations, and I hope you can find ways to diversify! It is difficult to be locked into a platform for financial reasons.

But for those of you who are like me, just average users with a small following - there are other ways to connect with people online.  

Parler - I've been on both Parler and MeWe for a couple months, and my experience with these new (and growing) platforms has been good thus far.  They don't use the addicting tricks that apps like Instagram and Facebook use, so in that sense they feel a lot healthier (think old school Facebook and Instagram before the algorithms ruined them).  They have much better privacy policies (especially MeWe), and on Parler specifically there is a small but busy homeschool community popping up.  If you aren't quite ready to give up social media all together (I'm not either), check them out.

Blogging - Good old-fashioned blogging is still a thing - despite my lamenting Instagram's killing of blogging, it's not truly dead.  I've been trying to keep it alive here for years, along with many other people (a few of them in my sidebar).  Back before social media took off so intensely, people took time to write out their thoughts long-form on a blog, and there are a lot of benefits to communicating this way.  Anyone can do it (really).  You don't have to write anything important or profound.  You can treat it just like Instagram if you want to.  It's your blog!  I hope we see a little resurgence of the classic casual blog in the wake of this social media disillusionment.  (I also wrote a post about how to start a casual blog, if you're interested.)

Newsletters - There are some great email newsletters out there, and it's a fun way to keep up with your favorite blogs and businesses right in your inbox!  I'm planning on reviving my newsletter in the new year (with maybe even some freebies for email subscribers - I'm thinking it over).  If you are interested, you can sign up here, or in the box at the bottom of this post!

I may turn this section into a longer post if more ideas present themselves, but I just wanted to tack this on to point out that Instagram is not the end-all, not if we don't want it to be.  We have options. 

This is nearly 2021, after all.


Thanks for letting me get all these social media thoughts off my chest, friends.  I needed to clear the air as I look ahead to a brand new year.  Social media has played too big of a role in my life for too long, and I've been praying for a while for the Lord to show me a way to find a balance or get out of it.  I'm excited to see what the future looks like for my little family, and this blog, unburdened by the social media giants.  

I think it's going to be good.

Happy New Year's Eve to you!

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