How it all began
A few weeks ago I was on a hike near Kufstein. We walked around 4 beautiful, clear mountain lakes. The weather was fantastic and the 10 kilometres we hiked over hill and dale were perfectly fine. You can often think more clearly while you’re moving, or ideas just come to you. It was the same for me. I calmed down and thought a lot. I thought about Instagram, what I enjoyed about it, what it brought me and how it enriched my life.
And can conclude that I can think of very little that makes this platform a place I enjoy spending time on. When I want to switch off, I binge-watch reels without end, save lots of them without ever looking at them again and rarely get to see what my friends are up to.
The path to the Instagram break
I enjoy creating content, I like writing, I like taking photos, I like doing things. But I don’t enjoy doing everything else that goes with Instagram. I liked and commented on things I wasn’t interested in so that people would notice me. I’m self-employed and have to be and remain visible somehow. But how can I expect others to take a real interest in me if I’m not interested in them?
That’s why I decided to take a short Instagram break on this hike, as I always do. I wrote my announcement post in my head and thought about which picture I would upload to go with it. And the longer I thought about it, the nicer I felt about my decision.
The next day, both posts went online in the morning. I created one for fanjatastisch and one for Junghans Mediengestaltung. I then immediately deleted the app from my mobile phone and Ipad. And immediately felt a certain freedom. It was as if a lot of pressure simply fell away from me without further ado.
The first day was like this
On the first day, my hands automatically picked up my mobile phone from time to time, swiped to the left once, opened the 2nd folder in the third row and clicked on the first app. Oops, suddenly Pinterest opened here and I was back to myself and my plan.
There was also a moment or two when I thought “Oh, I wish I had shared this moment.” I felt a certain sadness when such a moment simply passed without me capturing it in a story. That same evening, I started a project where I wrote down these beautiful moments. I wrote down what I would have shared if I still had Instagram on my mobile phone. I also took the picture that I would otherwise have uploaded to my story anyway.
What the first week was like
By the second day, I no longer missed the app at all. I no longer had any pressure, no to-do in my head to film any content. I could even paint without having the camera running at the same time. As much as I enjoy creating and editing content, I still felt free.
There were one or two situations where I still missed Instagram. When you see people again after a long time and are asked about various things you’ve shared on Instagram. Instagram creates topics of conversation because you’ve seen something that you can pick up on. Or it’s the only place where you can connect with different people. People you don’t yet have a mobile phone number or email address for. In these cases, Instagram was the only place to connect.
What the second week was like
By the second week, I was sure that I didn’t want to tackle the Instagram project again until next year at the earliest. I want to give myself enough time to think about how I’m going to get back into this app, what I’m going to post from then on, how I’m going to use the app and how I can have fun with the app again in the long term. I’m not worrying so much about that right now. Right now, I’m just enjoying having a break.
The Instagram break has changed that:
- I’m watching more long-form content I’m mostly on YouTube and have found some great creators over the past few weeks whose videos really inspire me. I enjoy following a topic for longer and not watching the next video after 30 seconds.
- I’m focussing more on long-form content. This also means that I’m currently creating posts for my blog and other long-form content formats. As I said, I love creating content and want to continue focussing on this. But maybe my focus will be on other platforms from now on.
- I’m painting more. I’m not sure whether the break and my creative phase have much to do with each other. But I’ve actually been sitting on the sofa every evening and instead of swiping through reels, I have my iPad in my hand and am illustrating in Procreate.
- I notice more. Instagram has swallowed up a lot of time and in the times when I would otherwise have my mobile phone in my hand, I’m enjoying doing nothing and taking in my surroundings more often. I think I’ve become a bit more mindful on my own.
Conclusion of the Instagram break
You may be wondering whether a small app deserves such prominence in my thoughts. Especially with my comparatively small number of followers. And I can tell you, yes it does. As a self-employed person, I need to be visible. Even though I haven’t read Tijen Onaran’s certainly fantastic book yet, the title keeps coming back to me: Only those who are visible are noticed. I am dependent on people knowing me. Otherwise I can’t share my services and art with them. Instagram offers great opportunities and is one of the most important platforms as a freelancer.
So for me, simply uninstalling the app is a huge thing. There is so much potential behind it that is virtually untapped. But if a refresh is exactly what I need right now, then so be it. There’s probably a bit of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) behind my thoughts. So far, however, I can say that the decision to take an Instagram break was a very good one.