Recently on Instagram a rather popular mommy Instagrammer I follow asked this question in her story: Does IG inspire you? Or make you feel bad about your life? I thought the question was so interesting, but even more interesting were the answers. HALF of the people answered that it made them feel bad about their lives, but there they were, on the exact app that, when they’re being honest, breeds negativity.
I understand. Like most, I have a complicated relationship with Instagram. At it’s best, IG connects me friends, introduces me to new places, ideas and people. And yes, it can even inspire me. At it’s worst, it’s an addicting, envy-inducing time waster.
For decades there have been mediums that beg comparison. Billboard advertisements. Television shows. Glossy magazines. But Instagram is different. It’s pervasive–always just an addicting click away, plus IG poses as real life. Even though we all know that IG is fake, it’s difficult to remember when everything feels so real, only better.
This past year it seemed that everyone I knew went on an insta-cleanse. Social media detoxes are not new, but they are becoming more prevalent. By now we all know the determents of social media overload, but the cleanse mentality can often be like a rocky relationship. Break up. Get back together with vengeance. Repeat. I’ve also done this pattern and in the end, IG always ends up back in my life, and like the people above, half of the time I enjoy it and half of the time I hate it.
So this year, instead of a hasty break-up, I decided to set some simple boundaries, a crucial aspect of every healthy relationship.
These really are simple and honestly, rather obvious, but sometimes reminders are good. So here they are.
// TURN NOTIFICATIONS OFF //
First things first, I turn notifications OFF. If I’m notified every time I get a like or comment, I immediately find myself checking the app and then I’m sucked in for minutes. This one easy step has really changed my relationship with IG. Out of sight (more) out of mind.
// TAKE DAILY MINI-BREAKS //
This is hardest boundary. And while it’s difficult, it truly is freeing. Time boundaries will probably be unique to you, but find out what is beneficial for you and stick with it. My strict time boundaries are never checking IG in bed. That means before going to sleep OR when I wake in the morning. I also don’t use IG if I’m out with Lewie and Bryce. I’ll take photos and videos on my phone, but I don’t upload them to IG till later. That exclusive family time is rare and important to me so I don’t want to be distracted by looking at other’s lives instead of living mine.
I also make intentional time every day to be with Lewie sans phone. I put my phone on a shelf somewhere out of reach and then leave it. This one is actually really hard because I often find myself reaching for my phone out of habit. Going outside and leaving my phone inside is one fool proof way to ensure that I spend time with my child without my phone.
// FOLLOW THE POSITIVE //
If you’re scrolling through IG and you start feeling jealous or annoyed or upset, pinpoint what accounts make you feel that way and immediately unfollow. I used to follow all these accounts that didn’t bring me joy, but now I am extremely choosy about who I allow in my daily life. Also, I have friends in real life whose social media accounts I don’t follow. Sometimes you can have a great relationship with someone in person, but their social media persona drives you bonkers. The real life relationship is 1000 times more important anyways. It’s totally ok to unfollow these people- strangers, friends and even family. It’s an obvious boundary and yet it took me way too long to realize the benefits of controlling my IG feed.
That’s it! Those three simple boundaries have really helped me have a healthier relationship with Instagram, a relationship that I actually truly enjoy. How about you? Do you have social media boundaries? Please share!