I also realized it’s hijacking my emotions
This January I came back from spending time with my family in Spain feeling inspired and energized. Actually, any time I travel it has this restorative, amazing effect on me. Something about being away from my daily life and obligations magnifies my world view and everything feels clear and possible again. Whether related or totally unrelated, at the beginning of the year (and quite surprisingly), I had ZERO desire to look at Instagram. It just felt like a lot of noise, when all I am constantly trying to do in life is cut out the noise. And after having read a couple of articles about the negative impacts of social media and looking at my own iphone stats, I thought, well this is weird, but also kind of great!
That was my first week back. Fast forward to a couple of weeks back in reality and slowly I got back into old habits and started checking it more often. But this time something clicked- I would scroll through about 4-5 posts, be bored because it felt repetitive or wasn’t inspiring (more on that later) and turn it off. And then it hit me- Instagram can be an awesome thing at the right time but not every single second of the day. What I was able to discern for myself, is that if I’m in a clear and calm state of mind, jumping on Instagram is AWESOME. I get inspired and feel connected. However, when I’m in work mode, busy mind, going from meeting to meeting, I was catching myself checking it in a less than calm mind and in that state it was A FUCK NO. And without me realizing it, it was just adding more noise and distraction to my mind and life.
My next thought was, well why the fuck am I checking this if I already have a million and one things going on in my head. And then I realized it had become an unconscious habit. Yup. As in at my desk at the office, waiting for a file to open on my computer and in those 5 seconds of the little Mac ball spinning, reaching over to my phone and checking Instagram. Or, leaving a meeting, waiting for the elevator and reaching for my phone to check Instagram. You get the picture. So those pauses in time when I had 5-10 precious seconds here or there to actually breathe and calm my mind, I was actually adding more fuel to the fire and didn’t even realize it.
Since this big AHA moment, I’ve been deprogramming myself. I now put both my phones far away from me when I’m working at my desk. When I’m online or waiting for an elevator I’m conscious about not reaching for my phone and just staying present (for more on why it’s so important to stay present, *hint because the present is the birthplace of the future*, click here). This de-programming has not been easy. The muscle memory to grab the phone and I guess the mental allure of being distracted or entertained is still there, but it’s slowly getting easier and I’m finding my way.
I think the easiest way to tell if you might be Insta-done is to check it and see how you feel afterwards. I found myself more distracted and with more noise in my head which for me is a hells no. Or I would see photos of animals being mistreated (thank you @therealtarzann for what you do, but shit it’s hard to see) and want to crawl into a ball and cry (and I’d be on line at Chipotle waiting to pay for my lunch). So looking at Instagram was provoking all these kind of emotional responses at the randomest times of the day, when really I was better off just being in my day, undisturbed and focused on the task at hand even if it was just paying for lunch at Chipotle. Shit, Instagram was hijacking my emotions!
To advance in a lot of the ancient Indian spiritual practices I love and respect, I’ve read that a focused and concentrated mind is key and that’s something I aspire to have, but realized was losing, in this world of digital distraction (for more on this check out a Purposeful Digital Wellbeing workshop). I’m really hoping that this effort to stop scrolling and only do so when I’m in a good place, pays off. Would love to hear if Instagram has had a similar effect on you. Comment below!