De-Instagram-ing your life: What one student learned after deleting the app

Written by Esther Kao

Two fingers running on a phone that looks like a treadmill
Two fingers running on a phone that looks like a treadmill
Two fingers running on a phone that looks like a treadmill
Two fingers running on a phone that looks like a treadmill

For 20-year-old college student Rose Dippel, the decision to delete Instagram was inspired by a combination of reasons, not least of all because of social media’s addictive nature.

Like many others her age, Rose, a San Jose native who is currently attending college in Santa Barbara, spent most of her teenage years on the app. “I was way too young when I first got on Instagram,” she said. “It was sometime in middle school, maybe like 5th or 6th grade.”

But though Instagram had become fully integrated into her everyday life, she eventually made the decision to cut ties with the app, citing several main reasons:

It was a time-waster.

Rose isn’t alone in thinking this. A study on social media usage states that the average U.S. citizen spends two hours and three minutes on social media daily. Assuming that you get 8 hours of sleep, that’s over 10% of your waking hours spent scrolling aimlessly through your feed.

It didn’t make her happy.

“On Instagram you’re always trying to prove who you are,” Rose said. “It’s this whole competition that people are having with each other, and no one’s saying anything or acknowledging it, but it’s like, ‘Who has the better Instagram profile?’ or ‘Who has the best events?’”

It hindered her ability to remain present in the moment.

“It was a way to tune out everyone else. I would be in cars with people and we would be driving and I’d just be looking down at my phone instead of looking at people or talking to people,” said Rose.

Netflix’s docudrama, The Social Dilemma, was the final straw.

She said, “I was dabbling with the idea of just not having social media (be)cause I thought, ‘This just doesn’t fulfill my life by any means.’ Then [The Social Dilemma] came out and it looked at how companies analyze and sell your data and I was like, ‘Absolutely not.’ I wanted to throw my whole phone away but I was like, ‘Well, I need my phone — I’ll just delete the social media.’”

What happened after deleting Instagram

When she first deleted the app, Rose found that old habits still unconsciously influenced her actions. “My muscle memory would take me to the little slide on my phone, and I would always click on the app that took Instagram’s place. It took me longer than I thought to stop doing that. I would click on it and be like, ‘Damnit! Why did I do that?’”

Ultimately, however, removing social media from her life has helped Rose be more intentional with her time. “Having a lot less screen time means that what I’m doing on my phone isn’t mindless. It’s like cutting out all the bullshit of being on your phone, which feels really good,” she said.

And though she admits to being more out of the loop, she doesn’t actually feel that giving up Instagram has negatively impacted her connection with loved ones. “I’ve realized that I have a couple of really good friends that are good at texting, that will text the important stuff, and that’s the kind of communication I want — when it’s important enough to send a text to me.”

For Rose, the move from Instagram is the main reason for her shift in mentality, especially when it comes to the toxicity of self-comparison.

“Why would I compare myself to others when I can just tell them how awesome they are?” she said. “I can lift people up instead of comparing myself to them.”

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