Sometimes the best way to get perspective is to get distance and disconnect. I think about this often and have written about this idea many times before. This past week being off of all social media (again) has given me the space to reflect on what I miss about the platform and what role it plays in my life.
I’ve come to learn that I often default to all or nothing thinking causing me to miss out on some fantastic middle ground solutions. In the case of social media, I think I’ve found a middle ground path forward that will help me retain the aspects of Instagram that bring me joy and limit the aspects that sap my time.
At most, spend 1 hour per day using Instagram.
I’ll regulate this first and foremost with apple’s time screen controls with a 1 hour limit. I’ll put Instagram’s separate time limiter to use too but have it set to 30 minutes rather than an hour to help encourage me to tapper off before the hour mark. Of note, I’m using Apple’s tool to enforce this because it creates a higher barrier to entry than Instagram’s settings. Apple will “snooze” the app and force you to go through multiple steps to give you access to the app again whereas Instagram’s tool just makes you aware with a simple notice that you’ve reached the time threshold. It doesn’t take any functionality away and I need something that will.
Unfollow anyone who doesn’t inspire you, challenge you, teach you something new, or that you would text/see in person.
I was following close to 800 people when this social media soul searching started. Most of whom I wouldn’t actually talk to in real life and am not invested in what happens to them. It’s simply just a waste of time and creating an endless feed desensitizing me from caring. Going forward, I want to be very selective about who I follow and why. It doesn’t mean I need to know every single person but they need to serve a purpose.
Mute anything you don’t want to see if you aren’t ready to unfollow.
Social media doesn’t offer you many regulation tools but they are starting to and I am determined to use them. To this end, I shall embrace the power of muting and take back control over my attention.
Default to sharing first here rather than on Instagram (particularly any writing).
Instagram serves as a memory bank for me in many ways. What I missed most was the ability to scroll through times of my life that I spent time capturing. Many of those times I forgot about thanks to the limitations of memory and how anxiety/depression can often rob me of the ability to remember wonderful times. Instagram has been a great tool for me in that sense but I don’t want to be tied to it. The core functionality is one of “life documentation” and I’d rather champion an open source platform like WordPress to play that role. Going forward, I imagine this will make it easier for me to later leave if I choose to.
If you see a post from someone and miss them, reach out – don’t just like their post.
I am actually already fairly good at this but I want this to be a codified part of my life going forward. I don’t want to rely on social media to remain connected to someone. I want to create new norms around how I communicate with those I care about.
As I return to the platform, I imagine this above framework will evolve just as I will evolve alongside it. I’ll return to this post and update it as I go.