Turning Instagram into a treat

Written about
1st February 2019


You track your screen time. You know which apps are your time-suckers. And then what?

I did the 2019 resolution thing. Less time on my phone, less time mindlessly scrolling. I tracked my screen time and got it down to a respectable two hours or less per day (Real Housewives watching not included). I had a couple of weeks where I felt high and mighty, I had more time to read, I didn't seem to miss anything and it meant I got a concentrated hit of quality posts when I did finally get on and scroll.

But then I slipped back. I figured since I wasn't seeing any life-changing differences from the new-none-scrolling me, what's the point in quitting, yknow? Probably the crux of the issue, but we move on.

I then stumbled across an article on The Man Repeller which encompassed my entire thought process - does knowing your screen time actually change your behaviour on your phone? Or has it become yet another area of life where we can compete with each other? Either in the struggle to get it lower than your friends and escape any judgement from spending too much time on your phone. Or, escape from the ironic trackers, the ones who are on their phones way too much, but don't see an issue with it, following my slip-back mindset above.

I can easily spend hours on my phone everyday when I'm not working and I'll be quite content in my scroll. But as the hours pass, I'm rarely getting much enjoyment out of it. Or at least nothing that can't wait until later - a funny meme to share with my boyfriend, or a fashion blogger in some dreamy set-up, they'll still be there hours later and they'll be there in a higher volume.

 


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Phone time is addicting because it's habit and because it's accessible. Just like watching the next episode because of auto-play, it's practically a given you'll look at your phone if you have downtime. I pick up my phone to check ingredients for a recipe, I inevitably 'just have a quick scroll' through social  media. I finish watching TV for the night or finish the chapter I'm reading, I'll pick up my phone because it's right next to me.

While I may not always replace Instagram with something productive, the lack of enjoyment and lack of purpose it gives is what does need to be wound down.

So, in a bid to get my overall screen time down, I've honed in on Instagram in particular. While it may seem odd to see it as a reward, that's what I've made it. It's no longer a habit to fill down time in my day, instead, it's a limited time activity to partner with my morning coffee or pre-wind down at night. I've made Instagram a treat and it's put it in a completely different light.

I've also taken time to go through who I'm following and cull any that served the same purpose as mindless-scrolling. Those that have beautiful photography and take great trips, but that don't actually bring anything to my phone time. It means that when I do get to click into Instagram, I really love every single picture I see on there. It's added a little more value to a very throwaway activity. Likewise, I've taken any previous theme away from my own feed, there's now no structure to the images or the edits, just my life which I love looking back on.

 


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This is of course me at my high and mighty status - questioning why I or anyone else could spend hours constantly refreshing their feed or immediately filling empty time by picking up a phone for entertainment. It's not going to last forever, but until I get that joy from Instagram that I once did, I'm treating it as an addiction I need to cut it out. Because let's be real, that is what it is.

We're in a culture where Instagram has become stressful for a ton of users and it's a need for some, not a could-look-at or could-post. Once I realised that, it all became a bit silly... So I'm making it sensible again. Here's to much fewer evenings spent in the infinite scroll.