Instagram Was So Anxiety-Inducing That I Had To Delete My Account

Everyone’s on Instagram and if you’re not, you’re considered the odd one out. I used to have an account but had to drop it because I couldn’t handle the anxiety of scrolling through it every day.

It turns me into a zombie. I’m not sure if it’s the ambient glow of the screen or the hypnotizing scrolling motion, but after about five minutes of staring at my Instagram feed, I’m zombified. I feel tired, kinda numb, and slightly confused. I remember seeing a picture on a website of cartoon people walking like zombies with phones in their hands and now I’m convinced that Instagram is killing our brain cells.

I post something and then get anxious about what people will think of it. It’s completely ridiculous, I know. Sharing snippets from my life should be fun but it feels like I’m on stage and everyone’s looking at me. It’s not like I post weird things, I just know that everyone is going to see my post because everyone’s online now. It was different back in 2007 when we wrote on each other’s Facebook walls without even thinking, but now it’s like your selfie has to get at least 50 likes or else what’s the point”.

It makes me feel like a loser at a party. I’ve heard other people describe Instagram in this way and I totally agree. I never really got invited to parties in high school, which sucked, but at least I didn’t have the opportunity to leaf through photos of my classmates having a grand old time without me. Scrolling through Instagram makes me feel like the loser who didn’t get invited to the party or the geek who’s at a party surrounded by cool kids who know exactly how to act and what to say. It felt like I was reliving the trauma from high school and I had enough.

Instagram is bad for people with a history of social anxiety. It’s obvious that Instagram is preying on our need to fit into a group. This is why we check Instagram constantly. We want to feel like we’re “in the know” and “included,” but most of the time if just ends up making us feel like we’re missing out and that’s a crappy feeling.

It’s probably gonna get replaced soon anyway. Facebook has already been more or less phased out and I’m gonna guess that Instagram is next. I’m also finding that there’s a notable subset of teens who are rejecting social media and opting for simpler ways of communicating via text or phone call. Don’t get me wrong, most of us are still using these platforms but maybe once we all get sick of the fake veneer of Instagram and the lack of privacy it gives us, we’ll go back to talking to each other face to face. It’s wishful thinking, I know, but not totally out of the question.

I got addicted to the rush of dopamine that comes with the social validation it brings. After using Instagram for a year or so, I started to notice that I couldn’t go without it and whenever I would think about opening up the app on my phone, I’d get this pang of anxiety like I needed to log on immediately OR ELSE. I’ve read that these social media apps trigger your brain the same way slot machines do, rewarding you with something even better than money: social validation.

Real life is stressful enough—I don’t need to expose myself to the distorted reality of Instagram. I feel like, as a woman, I’m already exposed to enough ridiculous stuff on the daily. I don’t need a personalized feed of advertisements and curated pictures to tell me who I should be and what I should look like. I get bombarded with images of the feminine ideal every day. I don’t need Instagram on my back too.

The fact that the app is constantly updating makes me fidgety. Just knowing that I could get a hefty dose of “new” made me fidgety and less appreciative of the present moment. I got addicted to the never-ending feed, discovering new ideas, “connecting” with people when it’s really more like spying on them. It’s making “connection” too easy and honestly, a little too good to be true.

It feels like a competition and I don’t want to be a part of that. It’s a little funny because before Instagram, Facebook was the hot-spot to post your updates. Anything was fair game, from a fuzzy camera-phone snap of a slushy to the entire contents of your digital camera’s memory card from when you went on a class trip to Italy. It used to be OK to be imperfect, but Instagram has introduced this concept of curated photos. Everyone is making these perfect snaps from their lives that are meant to look candid but really took about 30 minutes to set up. We’re all competing against each other to have the best-looking life and it’s totally inauthentic.

It’s like a nightmare for girls who have body image issues like me. I’ve always thought that I was chubby and would pour over photos of models and magazines and wonder how they get so skinny. Scrolling through Instagram activates that part of me that thinks she’s not pretty enough. I’d really rather not.

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