If I were asked to go on an episode of MTV’s long-running series True Life, there’s really only one topic for which I could provide a remotely honest testimony: Instagram addiction. While I like a good mindless Facebook scrawl as much as any other red-blooded American, and now almost exclusively get my news from Twitter, there is no social media platform I enjoy and use as much as I enjoy and use Instagram.
A recent study conducted by social media analytics tracking company Piqora reveals that the average monthly time spent on Instagram by one person is 257 minutes—that’s four hours and 17 minutes for those of you who are mathematically challenged. When I saw that number, I had to laugh—I easily spend four hours on Instagram every week, if not more. This is my story.
Here’s why I’m addicted to Instagram: It’s like a little window to the world that you can hold in the palm of your hand. I find this window relaxing, like the equivalent of sitting by a literal window or on a park bench after a long day of work, watching all the interesting people pass by. One of my favorite things to do is lie in my bed at night before sleeping—scrolling through my feed, liking photos, following new people, exploring hashtags, and generally taking it all in. Is that so bad?
Here’s when I knew my love for Instagram had morphed into an addiction: when, instead of paying attention to my boyfriend at night or in the mornings after waking up, I would immediately reach for my phone and tap my Instagram icon. My boyfriend is a tech lover, too, and I started to notice that we would often end up spending our QT together independently on our phones instead of actually interacting. I found this new reality to be sad, and knew something needed to be done to change it. Here’s how I’m conquering my Instagram addiction.
1. Limiting phone time in my house
As a fashion writer and someone who’s generally obsessed with all things fashion, part of my denial of my addiction was wrapped up in this idea that I simply had to check Instagram, because I need to keep abreast of all the goings-on in the fashion world in real time. Even if this is true on some level, that doesn’t excuse my checking Instagram late at night and even before getting out of bed in the morning—if it really is work, I should do it at work and not at home. While I’m far from totally cutting out Instagram while I’m at home, I’ve tried to limit my time to 20 minutes or less. For me, that’s a pretty significant decrease.
2. Not checking Instagram when I’m with other people
The ideal thing to do when you’re in any social situation is to not be on your phone at all. After all, there are few things more annoying than sitting across the table from a friend at dinner and seeing him interact with his iPhone more than he does with you. Though sometimes it’s unavoidable, the one thing that’s totally avoidable and should generally be cut out is checking social media when you’re with other people. Posting to social media is different, of course. Snapping a group selfie and posting it is fair game—I just try hard not to sit there and scroll through my feed when I’m hanging out with other people.
3. Putting my phone on airplane mode as often as possible
This one’s a toughie: The thought of being without cell service for extended periods of time is enough to give most of modern society a panic attack. I try to use airplane mode when I’m unlikely to need my phone to communicate with others—in the movie theater, while I’m working out, and sometimes even when I’m out to dinner—thereby discouraging me from checking Instagram. Airplane mode is definitely not just for airplanes—it’s a great way to disconnect when I’m running or hiking, because I can still listen to my music.
4. Reading a book
This might come as a shock to many of us, but there are these things called books that also provide a new and different window into the world. They are made of paper and usually bound between two covers, and you can either purchase them to own or get them for free at this institution called the library. I keep a stack of books by my bed, then at night when my urge to reach for my Instagram device (i.e., phone) is strongest, I try very hard to reach for a book instead. Sometimes I fail—but sometimes I succeed. And that’s called progress.
Do you ever think you might be addicted to Instagram? Tell us in the comments below!