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My 10-Day Detachment from Instagram

One teen recounts what she learned while staying off Instagram.

Taking a break from Instagram was like stepping into a parallel universe for me. For 10 whole days, I bid farewell to the endless scroll, the dopamine hits from likes, and the instant gratification that had become a part of my daily routine. It was a challenge, akin to kicking a smoking habit or breaking any addiction that lures you back with its quick fixes and fleeting pleasures. My decision to go cold turkey on Instagram stemmed from a growing concern about my screen time. Hours would slip away unnoticed as I mindlessly scrolled through feeds, seeking that temporary high of validation or the thrill of seeing perfectly curated lives. I wanted to see how long I could resist the urge, how I would cope without the constant triggers that kept me hooked.

Initially, my goal was to last over a month, but reality hit sooner than expected. Despite falling short of my target, those 10 days taught me invaluable lessons. One of the most eye-opening realizations was how much teenagers care about their online image. I found myself overthinking about what others might think if I took a break. It’s funny how we all strive to portray perfection, fearing judgment even when taking a step back could be the healthiest choice. Moreover, I had tied my identity too closely to my Instagram profile. It was as if my worth was measured by the number of likes or the glamour of my posts. Yet, life goes on beyond social media, and my value isn’t defined by what I showcase online. Realizing this was actually liberating. I could be a person of worth and substance without the digital facade.

On the flip side, Instagram had taken a toll on my mental health. Constant comparisons with others’ lives left me feeling inadequate. The pressure to attend events just for the sake of posting and the physical strain from excessive screen time became evident during my break. Restoring my sleep schedule and giving my eyes a break from screens felt refreshing, highlighting the importance of digital detoxes for mental well-being. However, my hiatus also underscored Instagram’s positive aspects. Networking and career opportunities are increasingly tied to social media presence. I realized how essential it is for professional connections and staying updated with industry trends. Instagram serves as a platform for learning too; from recipes from Nara Smith (ha ,ha, ha!) to makeup tips and even professional skills like swim teaching, it offers a wealth of educational content that I missed during my break. Furthermore, staying informed about current affairs through Instagram updates became apparent in conversations with peers. The platform isn’t just about leisure; it connects us to the world’s pulse in real-time.

My Instagram sabbatical taught me that balance is key. It’s about using social media consciously, enjoying its benefits without succumbing to its pitfalls. Whether for networking, learning, or staying informed, Instagram can be a useful tool when approached mindfully. So, as I re-engage with the platform, I do so with a renewed perspective on its place in my life, a tool for connection and growth rather than a source of comparison and distraction.

 

By Tafadzwa Ashely Gore

Instagram: ashely_gore_  /  Twitter:  @gore_ashely

 

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Written by Ashely Gore

When she's not writing, Ashely can be found swimming like a mermaid and making waves both in and out of the pool.

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