“To post or not to post? That is the question.” As wonderful of a tool as Instagram is for marketing and networking, at times the flip side of the coin overshadows, where we live and breathe a display society in which we purely share one highlight after another. A society, in which we prioritise the good over the bad, the pretty over the authentic, the looks over the feels. It’s endlessly intriguing how differently people deal with it. Some are fully thriving on it, hardly feeling any of the negative influence. Others are easily overwhelmed and affected by constant noise. I’m eternally grateful for the existence of Instagram, especially as I make part of living off the platform. But in some instances, you just need to pull the plug and hit the reset button. And by pushing that reset button and taking an Instagram break, I finally got to kickstart my creative journey again.
If you’ve read one of my previous blog posts (A Creative at Heart), you will know that I struggle with keeping up a creative practice. Which is quite a paradox, considering how much better it makes me feel and how much joy it can bring me. Nonetheless, I find it extremely challenging to sit down, be selfish and allow myself that time to create. But it’s even more devastating when you are constantly bombarded with images and videos of other people living their most creative life. Something that you aspire to do but are clearly failing at. While it can be very inspiring, it can simultaneously stir up quite some feelings of guilt. And so the idea of taking an Instagram break didn’t leave my mind. I had two weeks off planned, but prolonged it to a good two months which was definitely the right decision to take.
How did it go?
First and foremost, taking a break from Instagram made me feel like I was taking back control of my time. Being on Instagram, or any social media platform for that matter, can be extremely time-consuming in the sneakiest way imaginable. You don’t even notice how much time you are wasting. I’m not just talking about the times you are mindlessly scrolling through your feed. I’m also talking about the time spent pulling out your phone to capture something to share in your stories. Also, the time spent thinking about which photo you should post, if you should edit it, what caption you should write and when you should post it. Not to forget the time your mind is actively working in the background, processing everything you’ve been seeing and reading. And lastly, the time you are feeling bad about yourself for not being on your A-Game and not having anything interesting to share with other people. Just not having that need to worry about those things made an incredibly huge difference for me in being more open towards other things, such as creativity.
Secondly, not being on a social media platform helped me to learn how to create again. Creating just for myself without the need to share or prove my work to anyone else. This might not apply to you, but stepping away from Instagram made me realise how much it influences the creative decisions I make. As much as I love to write, I found that a part of me shied away from it as the visual aspect is more simply dominant. I’d also like to point out that, unsurprisingly, photos of my face just give me more likes and comments than any beautiful graphic with written words. Although I personally don’t care about it, I find it hard to disregard purely because my professional self is trained to achieve the best results.
Besides, that Instagram break took enough pressure off me to just go with the flow and relearn to enjoy the creative process. Too often, I find myself forgetting that ‘failing’ and experimenting is just part of true creativity. Oftentimes, I feel like a ‘bad creative’ for not having anything to showcase. But at the end of the day, creativity is more about enjoying the process itself than about the end result that you can share with others. Because a pretty picture or a well-written song is nothing but a by-product of your actions.
Being disconnected also made me feel like I was working ‘undercover’ on a ‘secret project’. My secret project, in this case, is what you are reading at this very moment. The idea of restarting my blog and giving my website a little makeover had been on my mind for quite a while. What I love about having a website and blog opposed to a third-party platform, such as Instagram, is the fact that it’s my very own platform. My cosy creative corner on the Internet. I like the idea of being able to simply put things out there and trust that the right people will stumble across my words and experiences and feel compelled to create something themselves. I’m not trying to start a conversation or increase engagement, but instead, I’m purely sharing some food for thought. Only telling a handful of people and being determined to have all the foundations of my little secret project set in place before going back online was doubtlessly playing out in my favour.
To recap, taking a break from Instagram kickstarted my creative journey again because I consciously chose to do so from the beginning. Not being on Instagram helped me ease back into the creative process because I had more time on my hand, more space in my mind and less pressure and weight on my shoulders. It helped me to learn how to create again just as much as the meaning of sharing your work. The nature of liking and commenting and good performance on Instagram is not a supportive environment for my creativity and my creative confidence. Having my own platform that isn’t focused on these parameters, on the other hand, is more encouraging to me to share my work as well as more suitable considering the written nature of it. So, should you be taking an Instagram break? If you find it in any way overwhelming and time-consuming and feel like you need a head start on any kind of personal project – for sure! In all other cases, you might be able to find a good balance and enjoy being on such a wonderful platform.