Why are you posting?
That is the question I started to ask myself before I chose to take an Instagram Hiatus.
Before I begin, I will note that I realize this is quite a sensitive topic and I do not want to inflict negative emotions upon anyone reading this. This is merely my observations from emotions I’ve experienced and it’s something I feel compelled to share…
About a month and a half ago things felt really stale for me. And because this is my blog and I’m going to be fully transparent… honestly, I felt really fucking depressed. I struggled to get out of bed. There was no spring in my step. I drudged around, day to day, feeling like I had no real purpose. If you’ve personally experienced depression, you’ll know it comes and goes. Depression is like a demon, he hangs around in the background and at random, he chooses when he rears his ugly head again.
For me personally, in this instance, I felt it was a build up of some emotional healing and the cold weather we had in Sydney for two long weeks certainly did not improve my mood. It's in those darker times, that we are often consumed be emotions and it makes it hard for us to rationally pin point where they are stemming from. But in this case, I felt particularly strong emotions towards Instagram.
Depression has a habit of dragging along his best mate anger wherever he goes. And anger wasn’t being much of mate at all, he was domineering and overpowering. Safe to say, I’d much prefer the company of depression on his own.
Anger isn’t an emotion we often like to talk and I think that’s because because anger usually accompanies feelings of guilt. And of course, guilt is one of the most negative emotions of all. Fortunately, I was able to work through these emotion in the past month and hence, I now feel comfortable sharing my learnings.
So I started to question why I felt such negativity towards Instagram. First and foremost, I knew what action I had to take. I knew I had to stop posting and stay off the app until this emotion had passed. Without a word or insty update, I deleted the app.
And like any addiction, I got withdrawals and I found myself re downloading the app the next day. I made an agreement with myself that I wasn’t in a healthy mindset to post but I allowed myself to scroll the gram and with that I also allowed a wave of emotions to flood in.
Usually I would take what inspiration I needed from a person’s post but this time I started to question it. I questioned every single persons motives. I questioned whether their words were coming from a genuine heart felt place. I questioned their perceptions and then I questioned my own.
Now I bet you’re already thinking “Why are you judging and questioning others?!”. Judgment is human. We all have judgmental thoughts from time to time, we either choose to ignore them or observe them. Once you start observing your judgment you can to react, behave or think otherwise. So I decided to question my thoughts and judgments and delve into my emotion towards our online world and why the heck we were posting in the first place.
It took me a few days to really go inward and feel through it. At first I felt so angry that I couldn’t make sense of it or begin to express these emotions to anyone, to which ironically physically manifested in my body as laryngitis. Yup - I was so mad that I couldn’t speak! So there I was bed ridden, voiceless and angry as a bull. In hindsight, I think this was a (slightly more aggressive) reminder from the universe to say “don’t speak, just listen!” and so I did as I was commanded. I mean, I didn’t really have any choice so I sat with the uncomfortable emotions and I listened to what it was trying to teach me.
Two things I need to identify before getting into my learnings…
Firstly, Instagram is an amazing portal that enables us to connect with each generation, educate and entertain, share our lives, communicate our thoughts, earn a living and grow a business. It is undeniably the best social platform yet.
And secondly, take it how you will but in my opinion Instagram can impact our mental health. I AM NOT SAYING Instagram is bad for your mental health. It is totally dependent on the mental state of each individual and how they are using the app. And in this particular case, my state of depression was not caused by Instagram. Instagram was simply a triggering factor contributing to my depression.
The feelings we have towards others or situations in our life are often a reflection of a neglected or suppressed emotion within ourselves. I have been on my own self-development and emotional healing journey for some years now and I feel i'm able to take ownership of my emotions. And for me this means I take full responsibility for how I feel. I always look inward and self-reflect to understand my emotions towards situations and others.
And upon reflecting, the following observations I have made about instagram are just as much an observation about myself.
After questioning and over analyzing, I realised that there were mainly 4 reasons why we post to Instagram. Keeping in mind that everyone has their account for different purposes (business, personal, hobbies etc)
We have every right to share what we love. The same way we share what we love and enjoy with our friends, we do the same online by posting things that demonstrate our interests and our personality.
To inspire & connect
Whether it’s inspiring people to workout, grow their business or travel, Instagram is commonly used to inspire others by simply sharing what inspires them. I’ve also noticed that the awareness of mental-health and spirituality is becoming more and more accepted and it’s online community is expanding. People are being more vulnerable and sharing what they’re really thinking and it’s really refreshing to see others let down their façade and be honest about their lives rather than glamourising a photo with a single worded caption or an emoji.
To seek validation
A few weeks back I posted my art work on instagram. I had almost completed my artwork and was really happy with how it looked, so I took a little video and posted it on my story. Not long after, I hadn't received much feedback about it and I began to feel really down on myself and I began to doubt my work. In that moment I had realised that I was looking outwardly for validation about my art-work and inturn my own worth as a creative. Instead of patting myself on the back and feeling a sense of accomplishment, I was upset my work hadn’t been acknowledged by someone else. Similar to the way a boss acknowledges what a good job you've done – that’s how instagram engagement on our posts (or the lack of) can make us feel about our work.
But it’s not right to let a number determine how we feel, especially towards our hard work! And this is often the case when it comes to likes on a photo. More engagement = more self worth. WRONG! But can you honestly try and tell me that society feels otherwise?
And lastly and the reason I feel most uncomfortable writing about is...
Now personally, I don’t think I’ve ever posted to gloat about an achievement or anything for that matter. Atleast I hope it’s never come across that way. And I think there is a fine line between sharing accomplishments and gloating. Everyone wants to share when something great happens in our life though right!? And there is nothing wrong with that. For instance, imagine buying the car of your dreams or landing the job of a lifetime and wanting to scream it out at the top of your lungs (or more accurately on your instagram story).
Some of you may even go straight to insta to make a post before telling your mum or your bestie. And that’s cool. But why do you feel its necessary? I mean, it may also comes back to validation too. There is nothing wrong with sharing your achievements. Something I saw on Instagram recently really stuck with me... A girl I follow posed next to her hot new Mercedes and in her caption she explained that she held off from posting the photo because she didn’t want to show off. After reading that I felt it was a genuine reflection that you can share your achievements and be humble in doing so. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask yourself before posting, why are you sharing your achievement. Is it relevant to your business? Is it going to serve your audience? Or is this to impress and if you’re trying to impress will you feel okay if it isn’t received well?
These feelings I had towards Instagram fleeted when my mood improved so perhaps my observations might seem a little skewed or pessimistic but it's often our darkest times that can teach us the wisest things. I was able to see things in a different light that's for sure. And hopefully this will change your perspective the next time you're scrolling through or about to post.
It's okay to ask yourself why you are posting. It's integral for us to know what is really important in our lives VS what is important to share on the gram.