Why would anyone ever quit social media?
Stepping away from social media has been a long time coming for me. I’ve wrestled with the idea for nearly a year and always felt like I could justify my time spent mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. I would tell myself that I was “finding inspiration, creating a portfolio, participating in activism, and connecting with others”. And all of these justifications were true. I was continually blown away by people in the outdoor industry, climate movement, and other activists. As a freelance writer I was able to acquire new jobs through social media, I helped inspire and educate others to take climate action, and I met some of my best friends through Instagram. So then why would I ever consider quitting?
I’ve come to realize that aspects of our life can be both positive and negative at the same time. All of these amazing experiences could coexist with the fact that social media was damaging my mental health. The more time I spent pouring into social media, the more my anxiety crept into my life. I found myself constantly comparing my “success” or “worth” to other people online, often people I had never even met in real life. These emotions were merely a projection of what I was feeling, rather than what other people were putting online. I was spending more time scrolling and less time actually doing the activities that bring me joy. Not to mention the fact that social media is indeed a highlight reel. Even if we know this fact, it’s easy to fall into the trap believing that someone’s life is absolutely perfect, based on the few photos they post online.
Like many people reading this, I recognized that I should probably spend less time on social media. I stopped going on social media each weekend and noticed how much happier and healthier I felt for those blissful 48 hours.
A few months ago I decided to take an extended break from Instagram, feeling as though all I needed was a few weeks to ground myself before diving back in. Those few months felt like the first time I could breath in a very long time. I was more present with friends and family, I actually completed more work, and I spent my free time running, biking, hiking, reading, cooking, and learning new skills I never thought I had the time to try.
When I came back online I quickly fell into the narrative that I needed to have an Instagram following in order for my adventures, work, and activism to be deemed worthy…even just writing it out makes me realize how toxic of a mindset that is. Yet I know I’m not alone in having these emotions. Within the outdoor industry people are continually expected to showcase every epic adventure they go on, always striving for bigger and better challenges. And while there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this, for me it felt like a never ending rat race that took the fun out of the activities I love the most. The more I asked myself the question “why am I on social media?”, the more I struggled to find a valid answer.
The fear of letting go of social media made me wonder:
What about my work as a freelance writer? I already had a solid website portfolio to showcase my work and a majority of my gigs didn’t come from social media.
What about connecting with others? I am so grateful for the friendships I have made through social media, but I knew I wanted to focus my energy on connecting more with people who live in the wonderful city I get to call home.
What about activism? A majority of my writing focuses on the topics I discuss through social media; climate action, sustainability and ethics in the outdoor industry. Plus, I want to dedicate more time bringing my activism offline and giving back to the community I live in.
With all of these thoughts running through my mind, I realized that when I pictured my future, whether it be five or fifteen years from now, I didn’t want social media to be a part of it. Coming to this realization finalized my decision of stepping away from Instagram.
As excited as I am for this next stage in my life, I’ve realized it is also okay to simultaneously feel some amount of loss. I started my blog and Instagram around four years ago, which ultimately led to creating content centered around sustainability in the outdoor industry and my career as a freelance writer. I’ve accepted that just because something one served you, doesn’t mean it needs to be a part of your life forever.
For any of those curious as to what I’ll be up to, my website will continually be a place where I share my blogs and whatever writing projects I’m working on. I also understand that the choice of whether or not to be on social media is a personal choice, and one I will never look down upon or judge others for. This blog is simply about why I myself have chosen to let go of this part of my life.
A final reminder that you do not need to have a social media following, or even a social media account, in order to live a fulfilling, influential, adventurous, and joyful life. Run happy my friends.