Why I quit instagram

A few month ago I seriously had enough. It was this moment of realization that made me deactivate instagram and begin a journey into the unknown.

The 16.3.2019 was exactly this day and has since then brought only positive with it.

We live in a world where we are expected to be constantly online and not miss the latest and most popular post, but what's the point?

Personally, it hit me.

Don't get me wrong, Instagram is a platform that can bring a lot of creativity and contacts and as a developer and strong supporter of the digital I also have a lot to do with the digital world, but for me it was and still is just the incarnation of wasting time and negative feelings on Instagram.

Yes, even my creativity has been worn out after a long time and has turned into envy and miserable self-hatred. I came home, sat down at my desk and mostly disappeared into the depths of the feed and then somewhere with even more frustration noticed how I wasted my entire afternoon watching other people live.

The decision to change something

For several months, I think since December, I had recorded the time on my mobile phone via an app and always tracked how much time I spent on my mobile phone.

On 16.3. I just wanted to reflect how much time I spent in the different apps. Instagram had taken the most time with an incredible 4 hours monthly average in february.

You have to imagine that at first. A day has 24 hours. In the best case we sleep at least 8 hours, then we still have 16 hours to be awake. There are 12 hours left for work/school and the vital ( maintaining the body inside).

So we still have about 4 hours left, or 4 hours left per day. And guess how I used these 4 hours most of the time. Exactly, to scroll senselessly through an endless feed on Instagram, which brought me no positive but rather negative.

An unbelievable time consumption.

That was one of the reasons to stop. But something else made me more tempted, and it was an article about the psychology of the feed. It was about the programmatic side of Instagram and, a few years ago, the developers from Instagram explicitly dedicated themselves to keeping the user, logically somehow, in the app as long as possible.

Dishonesty and how it has developed perfectly

Of course I was aware of this the whole time, especially that I had spent an incredible amount of time in a meaningless activity. Dishonesty came with it, I just didn't want to believe that I developed an addiction to scrolling.

In the background, an almost perfect dishonesty has developed, which also found socially great support, since so many are on Instagram and kill their time together.

Every day it became harder and harder for me to be honest with myself, whether it was my addiction to Instagram or my mobile phone in general.

The Feedpsychology in general - an addiction which isn't noticeable at all

Strangely but also logic-wise, our brain is constructed so that we look for the easiest way to something.

Behind the infinite scrolling are micro-rewards which give you short and not really strong feelings of happiness. So you scroll through a never ending feed for several hours because it is a quick and easy way for your brain to get happiness hormones. You watch other people's lifes all the time and often you look at things that give you a positive kick elsewhere (e.g. memes), whereas this is actually only a pretended real positivity, which usually fades away after a few minutes at the latest.

It's different with a vivid conversation in which you face a person. This can positively influence your life and mood for several days and weeks.

These simple and very short-lived rewards quickly develop into an addiction, which at first you don't really notice and often even less want to admit.

Exactly this system has proven itself for years for the big social networks, because the user is strongly bound and stays in the app for a long time.

What also plays into this system is that the consciousness as soon as it doesn't find a really actionable job is actively looking for something to do. Honestly, when was the last time you were really bored for a long time? Probably the last time you were a kid and didn't take your phone out on every occasion to get some input.

What I noticed, though, is that the more input we have, the less output we have. So my creative thoughts and ideas were mostly suppressed and made too null and void by staring at the feed.

Much the same is true for other social networks

As I have now indicated several times, Instagram is just an example network, which was my personal problem. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and many other networks can also drag you into an eternal cycle of dissatisfaction and add more negativity than you think.


fōmō, noun

a state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out.

It rules us, not only because we as humans are a creature that is mostly social and therefore seeks contact with other people, but also because we don't want to miss the really cool things.

FOMO is sociologically and psychologically in my opinion a very interesting phenomenon, to which I will dedicate another post in the future, but it is too long to make more than just a connection about it now.

It's the feeling to miss a party or a meeting or to miss a conversation or the life of someone else or their pictures applied to social networks.

Separating myself from the addiction

For me it was quite strong willpower and discipline that got me to just press deactivate. However, I sat 15 minutes in front of the settings website and didn't know if it was such a good idea. I was thinking about how almost all my friends are on Instagram and I'm sure I'll miss something, as well as I won't see if there's going to be another event or something like that in the near future.

In my opinion, I set my goal very low at the beginning and didn't intend not to use Instagram at all anymore. My goal was to deactivate my Instagram account for exactly one week. Why deactivate? Simply so that I don't have to scroll through all the news and what else do I know to look through when I get back to my feeds from exactly that week.

It was important for me not to communicate to anyone before that I stop. In the end, it was a very personal addiction that I wanted to break away from. It would have been very counterproductive to write on Instagram before that I am taking a break.

What supported me a lot were the many encouragements I got in the first week from my environment and as I have often been told that they wanted to do this themselves, but somehow couldn't get themselves to do it.

One aspect that is definitely not an excuse, but a problem for many is that they have many friends through Instagram. I've made sure that the people I really have contact with, who are not just followers, aren't just on Instagram, so there was no problem for me if I wanted to reach someone.

So a week had passed since I had disabled Instagram, so I could have enabled Instagram again, but the excitement was far too great to use my time better. I noticed how it dragged me down so much and the week just wasn't that bad gut feeling that I just used to marvel at my time.

Relatively quickly I spent the time I spent on Instagram with activities that were much more qualitative and longer lasting, as well as triggering a lasting sense of well-being.

Call to deactivate instagram as well

So now you've heard my experiences and the scientific aspects of the subject. If you are not registered on Instagram at all, all the better, then you can think about where else in life you might be bound by social networks.

The really difficult thing to stop wasting your time is not, as you might think, pressing this little Instagram disable button (or whatever is wasting your time), but dedicating the time you've gained to something better.

Here are a few examples that will definitely give you more qualitative feelings of happiness:

  • Sport, the all-rounder for feeling better
  • Mental exercise, the brain also releases happiness hormones when you find a solution to a problem
  • Dealing with and meeting other people
  • Reading
  • Walks can also have a very beneficial effect
  • Sleep

Of course, there's a lot of other things you can do. But the most important thing is to just start fighting the addiction once.

That's why I'm now encouraging you to deactivate Instagram (or something like that, such as Facebook) for a week and feel the clear benefits. Or to notice how there's nothing missing in your life.

Here you will find a short description how to deactivate Instagram, after that nothing will be deleted, but you just can't find yourself there.

In any case, it is worth it to take a certain period of time off from the whole lot of stuff.

Conclusion from the last months

I am glad to have taken the step to a less influenced and more personally oriented life, or to get this way of life back. In my opinion, there is no reason to let myself be so psychologically influenced personally and waste so much of my life watching other people live.

I prefer to spend my time with the things that really make me feel positive and not just this short dopamine kick.

In general it is important to be honest and careful with yourself and your time. I didn't mean to say that it can't have anything and that you can't stand for being on Instagram a lot.

But I think that you should live your life - maybe you don't think so - in a way that produces the most qualitative and happiest feelings.

Tell me what you think about the topic and what your experiences are with the whole thing.

Maximilian Jendrall

Maximilian Jendrall

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