One of the last things I did in 2021 was quitting Instagram. I deleted my account, genage. That username has its place in my heart because obviously, it is my nickname all over the place and securing it on a social media platform is very important. I would not want to take genage35 or genage_95. My decision for deleting my Insta account instead of deactivation was real, this time. Because previously, I used not to have the app installed on my phone for long periods of time or have my account deactivated months before the deletion. I just wanted to get off this mania of a social media thing, Instagram. I did not care if some other dude was going to take the username. Because, honestly, Instagram is toxic, and has become a platform where people vie for exclusivity, the unnecessary attention economy whose currency is making unreal things look like real.
At first, back in 2013 when I signed up for the app, I used to post almost anything regardless of what other people might think or the count of likes I could get. I was a chubby high school senior who just did not know what to do. I honestly was very self-aware of my looks back then as any other high schooler but my cool was going with the vibe, enjoying the moment and being a bit more realistic. That is of course not how I thought things back then. This is only my current description of a past behavior.
And at some point after my Erasmus in 2017, I began to make my feed on Instagram more hip. I posted mostly pictures of me taken by a friend, me looking all cool. Most Instagram accounts are actually influencer-like. Mine was, too. The only thing it lacked was product promotions. Nowadays, whenever you see someone’s Instagram page, you will certainly notice this trend. Even you might be taking part in it. One way or another. It is not that this trend or use of a social platform is bad preeminently stupid, there is simply no need to keep a heavily edited online diary where you post your filtered images. Honestly, it is not even fair to call this a trend because it is a way of using Instagram. A way of expression, some sort of subculture even. I’d just call it a subculture for using Instagram.
Then there is the whole Stories thing on Instagram. Even story-sharing takes a whole amount of time in most people’s daily lives. Everyday people, teen-agers, young adults, and mid-aged moms are all taking part in this subculture. They are actively creating new forms of it and also changing trends within it. It is something that is out there and that you can observe yourself. I used to post random stories.
One thing that bothered me more than the subculture that dominated Instagram was the fact that I was squandering a lot of my free time just going thru posts. Being irritated by everything I stated above, I uninstalled the app on my phone over a year ago before my deletion of the app. I used to only use it on my computer. As a result, I did not see what my friends were up to on a daily basis, and I barely posted on my Feed if any. One thing that stood out was that I was missing out on memes. And also, I was not making contact with some friends. Because when you see someone’s birthday stories, you wish them a happy birthday regardless of how close you are – and that keeps a continuation of friendships, or acquaintanceship, that would otherwise fade away. And this brings us to Instagram’s messaging feature that it gained later in its life. You just have everyone in your life on Instagram, whether it be your mom’s childhood friend who loves you most dearly or a random bud you met when you were drunk somewhere abroad. It outgrew Facebook as the de facto social network in 2010s and its influence in this regard continues. It is literally an address book for our era. I mean, even my grandmother is on Instagram.
All these things aside, as the app was uninstalled on my phone over a year, I also did not use it much for texting friends. I literally had tens of sent messages in group chats to check, mostly memes. And after uninstalling, I also did not follow friends’ stories as before. I mean, daily or hourly. I took a look every now and then on a laptop browser. And then came the moment where I really wanted to get away from everything Meta, a.k.a. Facebook. Using a service for free and that service taking all of my personal information and using it to sell ads just was something that got in my nerves. I did not want to use an ad-driven service all the while as it knew whom I talked to most, with whom I shared posts, what I wrote to them, whom I followed, etc. It literally knew more about me than I might know about myself. Plus, it causes social anxiety, restlessness, stupid trends that make no sense.
Some friends of mine, or a large amount of people out there, just use Instagram as a social drinker drinks booze. But me, a tech nerd, who is addicted to anything technological, be it social media, or tech gadgets, cannot just browse as a social IG user. It took a lot of time and attention that would otherwise be well-spent. I weighed all of my options and after not having the app over year on my phone, I decided deletion of my account was the road I should take. And so did I.
Ever since, for almost four months without Instagram, I’m doing more fine. I have lost contact with a considerable number of people I met over the years. I certainly am not keeping up with the latest memes. I certainly do not know what my friends are up to on a daily basis. And the best part is I am not taking photographs and choosing them just to upload to my Feed. I text friends mostly on WhatsApp, another Meta app. But that I have to do. So if you’d like to quit, I’d say don’t waste a moment, go and do it.