I Left Instagram and This is What I Found Out

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 - 11:47:55 WIB
By : Arumdriya Murwani | Category: Social Issues - 4124 hits
Magdalene Short
I have been taking myself off of social media, especially Instagram and Twitter, for almost two weeks now. The decision came abruptly, after a realization that I have been gluing my thumb to the screen practically 24/7, and that led me to the abyss of comparison and self-depreciation. One of my closest friends suggested that I took a break from Instagram and Twitter, and so I did.

My absence from Instagram and Twitter had  made me think and reflect on my usage of the social media platforms and the impact they had had on my personal life and happiness in general. Being a nerd, I could not help but connect my experience with the concepts I had learned in class. Many scholars had conducted researches on how gender is constructed, rather than biologically given.

I want to take this assumption further and say that there is a constant process of construction and deconstruction on our view of what it means to be a certain gender (in this case, a woman) that is currently happening in the social media fora. This process of interaction is manifested in the form of perpetual bragging endorsed by social media platforms, such as Instagram.

The visual nature of Instagram, too, had helped specify the previously “abstract” nature of mere language. Before Instagram, the word “success” and “happiness” entailed many things: having a good grade is successful, a great hair day can make you happy, being surrounded by kittens while snuggling with a cardboard cutout of Tom Hiddleston on a Sunday morning while binge-watching House of Cards? You are winning in life.

With Instagram and the omnipresent #blessed hashtags, though, that cardboard cutout Hiddleston could pose a pathetic rather than self-fulfilling tone. On breaks after Kevin Spacey killing Zoe on the subway (oops, spoiler), you open Instagram and you see that Jessica from Math Class is having the time of her life with his boyfriend, Bob, in Bali. Kate is posting a picture of her smiling widely with animals she rescued, and Alice is posting her latest modeling gig.

 All this parade of façade had left me questioning myself with all the “whys”. Why am I here, binge-watching House of Cards with a cardboard cutout while Jessica and Bob are vacationing in Bali? Why doesn’t my boyfriend take me vacationing in Bali, or post a picture of me with a heartfelt and cute quotes with it? I look at the pool of snacks I had accumulated under my skin and think: “Oh I would never be as skinny as Alice! Why bother trying?” or “I don’t have time to be as altruistic as Kate. Besides, I hate puppies. Oh, my, I am a horrible person.”

These narratives eventually help the process of constructing and deconstructing what it means to be a successful, fulfilled, and happy woman. In my case, though, it affects the way I see myself: I didn’t get to experience a life as rich as Jessica’s, Kate’s, and Alice’s because I less deserved it. And that led me to think that I am less of a woman for having experienced so.

Feeling less of a woman, feeling less than others has made me lead a very unhappy and unfulfilling life, and yet, somehow, I am addicted to it. The constant tendencies of comparing ourselves to the existing narratives that we know, in order to feel like we belong to a certain category, is exactly the reason I left the platform for good… at least for the time being.

Arumdriya Murwani is a student of International Relations in Universitas Gadjah Mada. She enjoys reading, lounging, and (over)analyzing things that are going on around her. Extremely small in size, she believes she can die happy if Tom Hiddleston notices her. Loves drama only if it does not revolve around her. Her writings and pictures can be found in tenterem.wordpress.com.

Got an opinion on this issue? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below.

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Rasti | 07 November 2017 | 16:21:26 WIB
It's similar to what I felt. I ever deactivated my instagram account several times because I feel like it's been too addictive. After that several attempts, I start to notice one thing that I feel much better when i'm living without instagram because I stop comparing my life and myself to others'. I no longer feel 'defeated' and sad, I can live happily haha. Although I get back to that platform, I think I can manage my feeling better now based on that experience, so I don't easily feel bad about myself :D
Ruby - Astari | 08 November 2017 | 06:21:11 WIB
I don't know why, but I only use my social media platform to promote my writing and the writing pieces of others. That's it. (The Old Nerd)
Bima P. | 08 November 2017 | 06:21:28 WIB
Ah, so this is why :) It's saddenning to see social media impacting a friend so much, but thank you for sharing. I have to agree with your points there. Using Instagram, there's an incredibly huge tendency for it to lead us to unnecessary self-comparison and whatnot. As compensation for this we the try to emulate what we see; we establish a social media 'persona' that is sometimes untrue to who we actually are. We post certain photos and show off brief, specific moments as if they represent our daily lives, while in reality they're nothing more than mere snippets of the real lives we actually live. It can be burdening to some individuals, so I understand your decision to (temporarily???) leave. Anyhow, I do wish that you soon regain the ability to define happiness and self-worth all on your own. You're an incredible and inspiring young woman, Arum, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing you being happy again (preferably in real life, not socmed)!
Mega | 08 November 2017 | 11:58:49 WIB
I left instagram about three months ago for the same reasons as Arum here. First month, still trying to accept that I already uninstall the app. 2nd month, kinda miss the daily scrolling. Third month, don't really care. Just wanna share my experience.
Deuishinki | 08 November 2017 | 14:07:20 WIB
As another fellow who quit social media (means uninstalling the app in my case) I constructed this is why instagram is not good for me (at least).

4 steps of Instagram
1. scroll... scroll...
2. scroll... love...
3. scroll... love... judge...
4. scroll... judge... judge...

then leads to below 5 steps
1. uninstalling the app
2. reinstall the app with better mindset
3. casual visit but never really care about it
4. getting notification because you rarely open it
5. turn off the notification that disturbs you like first post, first story of people
Rasta | 08 November 2017 | 16:56:29 WIB
I never install Instagram and my Facebook post mostly shared by my close circle of friends. I am happy and I do not compare my life with others.
Lara | 09 November 2017 | 03:29:31 WIB
I supposed any media could impact you deeply unless you controll your self on how much would you consume them or how much you cling on it. Any social evolution shouldn not seperate people, the aim is to connecting us but is always good to have our privacy seal before they are too loose only because we supply ourself with a hashtag addiction, thumb junkie, or you name..

Wish you all the great experience at life. Celebrate it.
Mumtaza | 09 November 2017 | 11:38:46 WIB
Moreover, we could turn ourselves to have that pseudo happiness to be shown to our circles
That self-comparison could lead to the infinity of negativity it possesses
And yes indeed, social media is not something to dwell into
Wulan R.H | 15 November 2017 | 18:42:40 WIB
I used to uninstall Instagram when I came to the realization that the app did nothing to me except making me continuously judging my self with others and I thought that seeing people's story is just a huge waste of time. It feels good living life without having the need to show other people what I am doing, where I am, and who I am with. It allows me to enjoy moments deeply.
Ziee | 24 November 2017 | 13:46:34 WIB
Lazying around with Tom Hiddleston cutout screams heaven enough to me though *wink*
Jokes aside, I think the tendency of judging people, comparing ourselves with others, or the need of approval from others exist waaay before social media becomes a thing. Now soc-med highlights it, which makes it seem bigger than it actually is.

The platform is as useful as what we make it to be. So I applaud you for using social media (or in this case, not using it) to know yourself more and learn not to be bothered by it. I hope the journey will be fruitful, and whatever it leads (back to instagram or not), may you feel content with it!

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