Yes you heard right. I mute my friends on Instagram. And not because I secretly dislike them. Nope, deffo not the real reason here.
Have you ever had the impression that Instagram is leaving you feeling lonely and your life is quite boring compared to others? Well my friend, this post is the one for you.
I like to think Instagram is a place to get inspired, have fun and enjoy other people’s content. Especially discovering new content creators, seeing what fellow bloggers are up to during the day (in a non creepy way, I promise) or meeting people through the platform are just three out of many reasons why I love Instagram. (except for the algorithm. We deffo don’t love the algorithm)
I won’t say that I’ve never compared myself to people I follow on Instagram, since this would be a straight up lie. The constant fear of being “too boring“, of “not looking like xyz“, of “why isn’t my life as exciting as theirs” and of course, the big one, the constant fear of “not being good enough“. It gets to your head eventually, pulls on your emotions and pushes down on your sternum until you struggle to breath. Why am I not like them?
At the beginning of 2019 I knew I had to change something about my habit of self doubt. I was aware I had to stop tearing myself down because my life seemed “boring” online, or at least that was what I thought it seemed like. Eventually this initiated a reckless unfollow spree. Only a few days after my feed “clearout” I realised what a positive impact “hitting unfollow” had on my well being.
I noticed a huge rock of self doubt dropping off my heart and instantly felt a wave of ease coming my way. As if I was “finally free”. Which, I agree, does sound quite dramatic since we’re talking about an app you can download for free from the App Store. But if you’ve ever unfollowed toxic accounts on Instagram you’ll probably understand the relief.
… only a few days after I came back home from my gap year in France, I felt a wave of self doubt coming my way, again. Only this time, it felt 6x more intense, accompanied by a big portion of loneliness. Back then, I was so confused and absolutely had no idea what was happening (I even published a post about it: “Have you ever felt lonely?“). I couldn’t grasp what was going on in my brain. I had (and still do!) incredibly loving and caring friends and a family that would always be there for me. So why was I feeling so lonely and out of touch with myself?
There was just something about seeing people online having the time of their lives, while I was sat at home feeling like time was slipping out of my hands. I was convinced even sitting at home for a single day was a waste of time. “People on Instagram aren’t sitting at home either“. I had this strong urge to force fun, to go on new adventures every single day and live my 20s in the boldest way possible. Even after previously spending nearly two years in two different countries on my own, I felt like my life was boring. I felt like I was boring. All because of Instagram.
I’d noticed that with every day of using Instagram, it got scarier for me to even open the app. So I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t for nearly 2 weeks. I simply wasn’t in the mental state to face yet another snippet of someone else’s perfect Instagram life. I knew that whenever I’d be brave enough to dust off my account again, I’d be hit by a huge wave of guilt for staying at home for two weeks. Two full weeks.
I couldn’t. Not because “I needed validation from others” or because I was “addicted“. The reason I didn’t delete my Instagram account back then was because I loved the platform too much. Which, I know, does sound rather contradictory and ridiculous after ranting for an eternity how lonely this app made me feel. But no, I loved engaging with other bloggers, content creators or literally any other random person I’d ever “met” on there. There was absolutely no way I’d get rid of that by deleting my account and disappear.
So what I did was analyse my behavior. Literally. Why was I suddenly feeling the way I did towards my Instagram presence? What would make me love the platform again? How could I use the app as an inspiring and exciting outlet?
… it was people I knew in real life, interact with on a day to day basis and face to face that made me feel this way.
It was people that I personally knew and was following who gave me the biggest FOMO issues I’d ever experienced to date. Especially people, that portray their online personas as someone they’re not. Now, I’m not trying to shift the blame of my issues on other people since, after all, it’s still my choice who to follow online. Wouldn’t it be a bit ridiculous of me to say that I’ve never portrayed my life better online than it actually is? We all probably do, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I would never post a picture of myself lying in bed, crying from period pains or after an exhausting day at uni and contemplating my whole life choices. I’d never do that, just like you probably wouldn’t either.
So I decided to mute everyone on Instagram that made me feel like I was missing out, feel like I was wasting time, feel like I wasn’t good enough. And all of them are people I know in real life. By no means was it their fault that I felt that way. I feel so much love and appreciation for most of these people that I knew, in order to keep the relationship the way it was, I needed to draw a line between “real life” and social media. Just like most people draw a line between their work and private life.
If I did (and I don’t – FYI) I would simply unfollow and not even bother about muting.
The real reason is, because I was craving to have conversations and hear stories I didn’t already know because I saw their stories on Instagram. I wanted to set boundaries and regain control over my own feed without feeling overwhelmed. And finally, I wanted to keep my own sanity, engage with bloggers and my long distance friends, create a positive outlet full of people who inspire me.
To be fair, you might won’t be able to relate and that’s ok. However, I wanted you guys to think about how you felt the last time you opened Instagram. Is there any room for improvement? Would you mute your friends on Instagram too?
Oh and speaking of Instagram, are we already friends over there?