I love a perfectly placed coffee cup and croissant or burning sunset picture as much as the next girl. In fact, I may like them more than most.
There’s something enchanting about being given an inside look into someone’s life or current viewpoint from anywhere in the world. I lay on my robin’s-egg-blue comforter and thumb through a sea of images. My pupils widen as I take in the filters, the hashtags, and the emotional responses those photos evoke within me.
And all the while I’m lying there, stone still save for my right thumb– the poor guy is feeling pretty overworked at this point. Just one more swipe further down the feed, further down the rabbit hole and maybe I’ll find what it is I’m looking for.
What exactly is it I’m looking for?
Somehow I managed to pick up on having a generally downcast mood upon finally clicking the off button on my phone at night. While visually I had taken a vast journey alongside National Geographic cameramen on ocean floors and trotted after style bloggers in adorable red pumps through winding European streets, I hadn’t actually done a thing.
Was the downcast mood a result of comparing my own quiet evening to that of others’ wild photo-broadcasted adventures? Was it some chemical reaction in my brain to the excessive ambient light and warm rectangle in my hand? Either way, eventually I got fed up. And so I decided that I would give up Instagram after 8PM for one week.
Here are my findings:
Hurry, scroll, scroll! It’s 7:55PM and I’m furiously tearing down my Instagram feed in an effort to catch up on today’s posts.
Would I miss For Love and Lemons’ latest photo? Wait, there it was. OMG that new spring top is amazing. Double tap. OK, keep scrolling. I wonder if Brittney posted anything, I really miss her.
Eventually 5 minutes expire and I reluctantly swipe out of the app.
10 minutes later I re-open and immediately close. Damn it! Have some resolve, woman!
Left with Netflix and a messy room as my only visual stimulation, I turn to tidying up. Tidying up turned to taking a walk down memory lane.
I not only organized all of my important paperwork (hurray adulthood) but I also spent a good half hour pouring over old cards and letters. The walk down memory lane resulted in my writing a witty letter to my little sister who was away at college, complete with a horrific doodle of her on campus.
10:45PM, Lights out.
Hopping in my car after a sweaty beach workout, I check the time. A half hour until 8PM. Naturally, I whip out my phone and catch up on the day’s Instagram feed before putting my aged Toyota in drive and heading home.
Evening festivities include a long awaited phone conversation with my out-of-state mother, washing the dishes from the past err…few days (okay week!), excessive hair brushing, and converting an empty plastic food bin into a panty overflow storage unit. Hey, I have a lot of panties.
Bed Time: 10:00PM
General feelings: Optimistic and accomplished!
This is getting easier. I have an oddly hopeful outlook on my evenings now. Instead of the usual crawl through doorway with all manner of possessions and collapse on to bed for mindless Instagram thumbing routine that usually transpires after my work day, I’ve begun to ponder other outlets for evening recreation.
And with much geekish excitement, I might add.
There’s way less of an incentive to end my workouts early. Knowing I can’t retreat to my illuminated square of flawlessly filtered images, I don’t put quite so much pep in my step as I head back to the car.
And as a result, I catch the sunset. Or the sunset catches me. And I’m having a real life Instagram moment.
Yes, I desperately want to whip out my phone and snap a picture of this oh-so-perfect San Diego sunset, but I muster the strength to let my eyes do the capturing and enjoy the moment. And it feels good and raw and authentic, despite not telling the world through an upload.
A week spent giving up Instagram after 8PM proved to have far more exciting results than I had imagined. As corny as it sounds, I fell in love with my evenings again.
While I wasn’t admiring poised yogis posing in Bali or drooling over pastel macarons held up next to the Eiffel tower, my own world seemed a lot larger.
(Cozy tall socks linked here)
The possibilities for what I could do with my time now stood infinite before me.
I’m not saying the use of Instagram is ever a bad thing. Many times I feel inspired and energized by what I see on my feed. The fact that I can tailor my feed to showcase the exact content I desire is powerful!
But like most things in life, there is room for balance. And while I may not stick to the no Instagram after 8PM rule religiously, I certainly will keep it as a guideline for making the most of my evenings as a twenty-something.
Happy Gramming 🙂
(Similar phone cover here.)
This article was previously published in the June, 2016 issue of Belong Magazine.
Photos by By Amy Lynn Photography.
Hair and Makeup by Fashion Ili.