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Is Instagram Taking a Toll on You

Can’t stop scrolling on social media? Isabel shares how she stopped letting Instagram take control of her!

Instagram has easily become one of the top social media applications in recent years. Whether it’s for sharing photos or messaging friends, it’s somehow made itself relevant in most people’s lives in the 21st century. But, behind the glitz and glamour, using too much Instagram can spiral into an unhealthy habit. 

Here’s a story of how I got lost in the world of Instagram and how I managed to pull myself out before it was too late. 

These days, you could say that having an Instagram account is almost a necessity. I’ve had an account since 2017, but I’ve managed to avoid being reliant on it for the longest time — up until 2020 — the year where everyone was stuck at home. I’ve no idea how the addiction started and only realised I was addicted after a few months. It definitely was a scary experience and affected me in various ways.

For starters, a typical high school student’s biggest worry would be not scoring decent enough grades to graduate. As my Instagram addiction worsened, my grades fell along and my stress level was through the roof.

The fact that lessons were held online didn’t help at all. Instead of paying attention during classes, I’d put the call on mute and scroll on Instagram instead. Definitely started off Year 11 on the wrong foot — thankfully this isn’t happening for A Levels right now.

Another issue that surfaced was my self-esteem which highly affected my mental health. The obsession with stalking Instagram influencers developed into a daily habit.

Any photos posted of themselves would cause a huge shift to my mood instantly. I hated looking into the mirror and I’d very low self-confidence. Besides this, I was also constantly overthinking about how people felt about photos of myself or the things I posted.

But, the thing that I regretted the most would be growing apart from my parents. Whether it was at home, at the mall, or at the restaurant, my eyes were always on my phone.

I shut them out and only talked to them when needed.

Growing up, I never had a bad relationship with them. We rarely fought and always shared everything with each other.

Yet, Instagram had single-handedly tore us apart. 

That’s not all. Though the natural thing to do on Instagram would be sharing moments of your life, wanting to share vs having the urge to share are two different things.

I constantly had to share what I was eating, wearing, or where I was and, as ridiculous as it sounds, I felt uncomfortable if I didn’t.

It was probably my lowest point and I’d had enough, I couldn’t lose myself to Instagram. I was living in misery every day and avoiding all my student responsibilities made me realise it was unhealthy and I needed to change. Hence, I did an Instagram detox for 3 months.

During the 3 months, I focused on my IGCSEs, cramming all the topics I’ve missed out (a huge thanks to Znotes!) and obtained good results. I mended my relationship with my parents and improved my mental health overall. Instagram wasn’t a big part of my life anymore. 

Installing Instagram again after 3 months made me realise that I was foolish to let a social media application control my life. I was happy as the urge to share every moment of my life was gone. I also unfollowed influencers who took a toll on my mental health. 

To be too obsessive as I was certainly brings out the toxicity of Instagram but is it all bad?

For many introverts, I believe that Instagram helps them communicate with people better and their profiles could let people learn more about them too.

Friends could also share funny posts to each other. This strengthened the bond of many of my friendships.

As news travels at lightspeed across social media platforms, reading the news through Instagram is very convenient — but always remember that not everything you read online is necessarily true.

Instagram also provides a platform for people to exhibit their hobbies which allows us to follow various accounts according to our interests such as photography, cooking, baking, art, music, or DIY crafts. So, use it wisely!

 

Currently, I still use the platform to communicate with people but I do set a time limit of Instagram usage — 4 hours per day. Instagram has helped me mature and grow as a person and I’ll forever remember this experience.

Always know when to take a break from social media especially when it gets too much for you and your mental health.

Isabel is currently pursuing Cambridge A Levels at Taylor's College. She’s a 16 year-old who enjoys K-pop and reading during her free time.

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