I Quit Instagram.

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By Rosie Savelson, Staff Writer

My private Instagram account has 1,135 posts. I created it in eighth grade, and for the last four years I shared on it almost daily. I created series; traditions; I packaged my innermost thoughts into irony and entertainment, everything a huge satire of itself. Then I made a decision I never thought I’d make: I deleted Instagram. My hesitancy to do this in the past mostly came from a crippling fear of missing out. As we’re all aware, a lot goes down on social media. I already didn’t have snapchat; without Instagram, I’d be even further cut off from the collective. 

The other source of my hesitancy was that I was quite passionate about my private account– finsta, if you will, I know all the words, I’m so cool– which I’d been running for many years. I’d put so much effort into curating my presence there that abandoning it felt like leaving a story incomplete. Oftentimes, the account felt like an interesting deconstruction of my evolution as a person (or maybe not as a person; as a user). Taking a break was like depriving this archive an entire chunk of my life. More than anything, I wasn’t sure where I would put all the energy I usually dedicated to merciless documentation. 

My dear mother– the intelligent and ever-inspiring school librarian Ms. Arkans– was often concerned about the effect of social media on our generation. For the sake of being contrarian, I developed a defensive stance on the topic. When my mom told me about the harm Instagram could cause, I was compelled to defend it. I liked Instagram. It was, in fact, good for me!

It scientifically is not. Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, released information to the public surrounding the negative impacts of Facebook and Instagram. This included a study done by the company that confirmed that Instagram worsens body image issues. The company had conducted and concluded this study, and with the knowledge they gained, they did nothing. With the unique setup of social media– the chaos, the illusion of control, the elation of “getting it” when we see a referential meme–we often forget that the priority of all these companies is profit. And what are they profiting off of? Our attention; the natural reactions our brains have when we’re engaged, offended, passionate. They aren’t even selling their products to us– they’re selling our attention to advertising companies. They do not care about our self esteem, our movements, the art we share, the communities we create– they only care about the time we spend with their app open. 

Even without a study to prove it, it’s no secret that Instagram has a negative impact on body image and self esteem. But it can also transform how we perceive ourselves on a deeper level. The way we curate our identities online is incredibly interesting to me; it’s like we’re creating and then appeasing a self-imposed audience. Personally, I spent more time on my own accounts– stalking, editing, trying to place myself in the mind of a stranger being introduced to me for the first time– than anyone else’s. It isn’t self-obsession; it’s like some sort of facade-obsession. I didn’t post things I liked; I posted things I hoped others would like, comment on, interact with. 

During the pandemic, the entirety of my social life moved online. I depended on these apps to keep in contact with friends and family. My time spent on Instagram and discord began to feel a lot more real than the fevered, surreal hours I spent alone in my room. All my friends only existed as accounts; therefore, I was just an account as well. The way I recalled things began to depend on my social media presence. I would check to see the date I’d finished binge-watching She-Ra by looking back through my posts. If I wanted to remember a specific meaningful experience, I’d scroll through my archived stories to see if I’d shared something about it; oftentimes, I had. The apps I used daily started to appear in my dreams. A lot of the time, (sorry teachers) I would go on Instagram and TikTok for hours during online classes. On one fateful check-in Tuesday, I spent nine hours looking at my phone. 

My time spent on Instagram and discord began to feel a lot more real than the fevered, surreal hours I spent alone in my room

All of these instances were signs of the obvious: I was addicted to Instagram, and had been for all of my teenage years. After realizing this, I didn’t even delete the app. I only did that when college applications and homework started piling up and the sacrifice had to be made. The first few days it was gone from my home screen, I would scroll aimlessly through Spotify and my notes app, trying to scratch a phantom itch I never knew could be so strong. One morning, as I went down a rabbit hole of related artists on Spotify, I joked to my mom that I was suffering from Instagram withdrawals. 

The truth is, I probably was. But let me just say, as someone who was very very addicted to Instagram, I don’t really miss it at all. I have more time now to do my work, listen to new music, read, and hang out with friends. It sounds tired, it sounds cliche, but it’s true. Social media changes you. Contrary to what I once believed, algorithms aren’t usually tailored to specific users. Instead, users are fed into already curated paths that match them the best. Over time, we become more streamline-able; we begin to fit more and more snugly into the algorithm selected for us. The algorithm doesn’t adapt to us. We adapt to it.

So delete Instagram, cuz what are you even doing on there anyway? It’s not nearly as hard as it seems. I believe in you. Maybe your future self will thank you. Maybe you’ll sleep better. Maybe you’ll discover something you’re more passionate about to fill the time. My fellow screenagers, the only thing we have to lose is our chains!

How do New Paltz Students Feel About Instagram?

Junior, Noor Eljamal

Do you think social media mainly Instagram is addictive


How much time would you say you spend a day on Instagram?

1-3 hours

When do you check your Instagram?

Sometimes when i wake up, but sometimes i realize i should probably feel healthy and then i refrain myself from going on right when i wake up.

Sophomore, Juneau Beaupre

Do you think social media mainly Instagram is addictive

I do too.

How much time would you say you spend a day on Instagram?

3 hours

When do you check your instagram?

At night, after i eat

Junior, Max Hawkins

Do you think social media mainly Instagram is addictive

Definitely, a lot of people I know use it

How much time would you say you spend a day on Instagram?

10 min maybe

When do you check your Instagram?

At night usually

Senior, Victor Ingram

Do you think social media mainly Instagram is addictive?

Not for me, but I see my classmates using it nonstop 

How much time would you say you spend a day on Instagram?

Less than an hour

When do you check your Instagram?

Throughout the day sporadically.