I joined Instagram two years back. Initially, I was intrigued by the features it offers: It was like peeking into someone’s photo album. We millennials, especially, are inclined towards social media — be it Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. But lately, the popularity of Instagram has increased drastically.
I also used to prefer Insta as it was so vibrant, colourful and insightful — just like a photo book we used to have when we were kids! I posted something every week – be it a place I used to visit or the people I met – to keep my account updated. But without even knowing, my love soon turned into obsession, and my obsession into addiction.
Every week, I had the urge to post something or the other. At times I had this compulsion to post even when nothing special was happening. I would just post a quote or a poem, or a book that I would be reading. I felt a constant need to keep my account updated.
Then the Instagram status feature was introduced, which made the posting game more fun. It has different features that allow you to shoot a video or post anything, which will be visible to your followers only for 24 hours. I started using it way too often. Again, every day I had an urge to update my status. And when I wasn’t doing that, I used to feel like I was missing out on something.
The worst part was that I would keep scrolling and checking other people’s posts. Not only that, I would literally stalk other people’s profile all day — and that actually affected me somehow, as stalking is not a healthy habit. So, every hour, I had the desire to open my account to check notifications or just to scroll down till the end of the page.
Sometimes, I used to find it hard to focus on my work as I would frequently keep checking my Instagram account. Then I realised that I am probably addicted to it and the only way to get rid of it was to uninstall the app or delete my account.
So, I successfully uninstalled my account and for months I did not use Instagram. Initially, it was tough to control the urge, but then I diverted my attention by reading a book or doing something productive. I think addiction to anything is lethal – some harm you physically, others mentally. Unknowingly, the excessive use of such a social media platform actually took up a lot of my time and affected me in more ways than one. But thankfully, I realised it and came out of it.
Ritika Das is a Delhi-based engineer
As told to Shruti Das
The scrolling urge
I joined Facebook in 2011 and soon it became a daily routine. Every evening after school, I used to spend a lot of time on it, even though we did not have easy access to the Internet like we have nowadays.
Eventually, with the advent of smartphones and cheaper Internet plans, Facebook was just one touch away. So, I started spending more time on it, checking my account every few minutes. Sometimes, I would just keep scrolling through the page to see what other people had posted — I would do so for hours at a stretch
Before posting, I would just sit and edit the photo or the post. Then I also spent time in deciding the quote or the caption that will go with it. One post used to take up so much of my time as I would read my status over and over again, before updating it. Sometimes, I would also make people read it too, before I finally posted it.
Facebook is a good way to communicate and connect with friends. But this can also become time consuming and distracting. I used to spend hours chatting with my friends and sometimes, with random strangers as well, which hampered my studies. So, I had to go through a lot of struggle to finally stop myself from spending so much time on it.
I would often deactivate my account, mostly before my exams. This helped me focus as I would not be wasting my time on petty things, like checking other people’s account or reading their posts. The more you get to know what others are doing, the more you tend to think about trivial things, like ‘Wow, she’ on a vacation, and I am here doing nothing,’ or ‘He is partying and having so much fun, whereas I am just getting bored at home.’ I believe these things affect you on a deeper level.
Addiction is often misinterpreted. It is not necessarily something that will make you go crazy, and you need therapy to cure it. It may also happen in a subtle way – without you even realising it. When I look back, I realize that I was addicted to Facebook and somehow with time, it went away. It did harm me, but not that intensely.
However, it did affect my mental peace and took away a lot of my time. Nowadays, almost every millennial goes through something of this sort, so it is not considered serious. Rather, this addiction to social media is seen as regular and is pretty much normalised. Instead, those who do not use Facebook or Instagram actively, are looked upon as creatures from some other planet. It is ironic.
Devlina Bose is a Delhi-based journalist
As told to Shruti Das