Life Without Instagram

It’s been almost 10 months since I deactivated Instagram. I stopped mainly because I did not like how much time I spent watching Reels. It was a huge time sink that did not benefit me in any way. I was inspired at the time by a friend who was able to keep an active, social life without Instagram so I decided to give it a try myself. I want to take this time to reflect on my life sans Instagram.

After removing Instagram (and Youtube for the same reason) from my phone, the most notable difference is the amount of time I spend on my phone. I was able to reduce my screen time by more than half, to around 2 hours. That is more than 10% of time I get back every day that could be spent doing other things.

For example, I now have more time to read books. I already finished 3 books this year, including a 600 page book about the Korean war. I also started reading the Bible for the first time. This is not to say that I couldn’t have done it without quitting Instagram, but it definitely helps because I don’t feel like I’m always running out of time as much as I did before. It became something that I can do in my leisure time instead of being a task on my todo list that I need to complete by the end of the day.

Another benefit is that I am able to sleep better. I used to scroll through Instagram or watch Youtube before I fall asleep. Sometimes I purposefully turned on Youtube to put me to bed. This not only made me stay up later but also messed up the quality of my sleep. My mind was troubled when it should have been winding down. Now that there is nothing to scroll through, I am able to sleep better in a more calm and relaxed state.

There are also downsides to not having Instagram. It is especially hard when meeting new friends. Instead of following each other on Instagram, I have to ask for their numbers to keep in touch. I used to feel awkward asking for numbers because who does that nowadays? But that is only the first hurdle. The more difficult task is planning the next hangout. Instagram acts as a great conversation starter through posts and stories. You find out about mutual friends, common interests, their whereabouts that can lead to future hangouts. That is a luxury I do not have anymore. Instead, I have to rely mostly on texts, which I’m terrible at.

Another downside is that I have no idea what my friends are up to and where they are. I find out only months later that someone switched jobs, relocated to a different city, got engaged. In a way, it feels like I suddenly unsubscribed to all of my friends’ newsletters. My inbox, which used to be full, is suddenly empty. I enjoy the quiet and peacefulness, but I do wish I received newsletters once in a while, at least from those I care about.

When I first deactivated Instagram, I wasn’t sure if it would be a temporary experiment or a permanent thing because I couldn’t picture what life would be without it. But now, 10 months in, I am a little more certain that I don’t need it. I still cherish the moments that were recorded on Instagram and want to share them outside of the social media platform. So I exported my data from Instagram and plan to make them available on my blog soon.


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