About a month ago, I broke up with Instagram. And let me tell you, it hasn’t been as easy nor simple as I thought it would be. Going this long without Instagram is really, really, really hard.
One of my friends deleted Instagram the same day I did. I admitted to her a few times that it’s been really hard staying off of Instagram, and I asked her if she had been having the same struggle. She said she hadn’t been, and that it had been pretty easy for her to stay off of the app.
I’m a total weirdo.
I knew my reasons for getting rid of Instagram were valid, so I stayed strong in my resolve to keep it out of my life. But it still hasn’t been easy for me.
A few weeks ago, another one of my friends deleted her social media accounts after reading my blog post and chatting with me about it. I think it’s been pretty hard on her too, which brings me some comfort. It’s been nice being able to talk about the struggles of staying off Instagram with her.
I think I’m still addicted to Instagram, even though I haven’t really been on it for a month. It’s still been weird not having it as a way to fill my spare five minutes. It’s been weird not scrolling through all the pretty pictures of my friends. I didn’t expect it to be this hard, especially since I still have Facebook.
You see, every time I take a meaningful picture or go to a cool event, I want to post about it on Instagram.
The pageant at my university a month ago…
…Seeing one of my out-of-town friends over Thanksgiving break…
…My family’s group-picture after Thanksgiving dinner…
…Going to a football game with my family…
…A pic of my brother and I after his play…
…A picture I took with my mentor teacher on my last day of student teaching…
The list goes on. But you get the point.
Each one of these times, I’ve really wanted to post the pictures on Instagram. Each time, I have argued with myself. And each time I’ve come to the same conclusion: Don’t post the picture.
As I’ve wrestled through asking myself “to post or not to post?” I’ve come up with a few questions that I ask myself each time.
Four Questions to Ask Before Posting On Social Media:
1. Why am I posting this picture?
The deep, essential question that all of the other questions stem from.
Why? Why post it?
For example, when I was debating about posting the picture of my mentor teacher and I when I finished student teaching, my answer to this question was: “I want to tell everyone how amazing it has been to work with her, and I want to announce the fact that I finished student teaching!”
My response to myself was: “Why would posting that she is amazing be better than just texting her or telling her in person? Why do you want to brag about finishing student teaching? Wouldn’t it be better to just tell your friends in person that you are done instead of them knowing without it coming directly from you?”
Ug. I knew I had a point.
(Please tell me I’m not the only one who had full conversations with themselves…)
I could still achieve my goal of telling people my mentor teacher was awesome and that I finished student teaching without posting about it on Instagram.
One of my reasons for deleting Instagram in the first place was that it detracts from my acquaintances, because we don’t have anything to talk about because we see everything about each other on Social Media.
The night after I debated about posting the picture of my mentor teacher and I, I saw the mother of the girls I nanny for in the summers. I hadn’t seen her in a while, and so she was asking me what was going on with me.
And I was able to say, “Today was my last day of student teaching, and I graduate next Friday!”
“WHAT??? Oh my goodness! I had no idea! That’s so exciting!” She gushed.
Had I posted the picture on Instagram, odds are she would have already known I finished student teaching and am about to graduate. This moment made me so happy about the fact that I DID’T post the picture.
2. Is this picture/the caption encouraging others towards God?
Some Instagramers and bloggers are great about this. Every post they share points people towards God. They share something that they’ve learned about Him recently, or share a Bible verse and their thoughts about it. These Instagram posts are great, and I think it’s amazing that these people are using Social Media to point others to God.
Most times, however, when I answer this question the answer is no.
“No, posting this picture would not encourage others towards God. Posting this picture would not magnify God. It would magnify me and my accomplishments, not Him and His.”
I love what Bethany Baird of Girl Defined Ministries said in her post, 5 Questions Girls Should Ask Before Posting a Selfie:
Awhile back I came across a selfie of a Christian teen girl. The selfie was focused on the girl’s body and her face was mostly cropped out. She was wearing a tight/revealing outfit and the selfie seemed to focus on her curves.
I wouldn’t have thought much about the selfie, considering these sorts of pictures are totally the norm these days, but her description left me puzzled. Underneath her selfie, she had several quotes sand verses talking about the Lord and rejoicing in His goodness.
This Left Me Totally Confused.
I wondered, “How in the world does a selfie like that help me (or anyone else seeing the picture) focus on the Lord? Is this girl totally clueless, or, is she using the verse to try and somehow justify her picture?”
I wish this picture were an isolated case, but it’s not.
So take a moment to really evaluate yourself before you post that picture. Is it really encouraging people towards God? Or is it a seductive selfie with a Bible verse underneath?
3. Who will benefit by me posting this picture?
Will my followers benefit by me posting a picture of my family and I at a football game?
Will I benefit by posting the picture of my family and I at the football game?
Most likely it will make me self-conscious of the likes I am or am not receiving.
Will it benefit my family by posting the picture of us at the game?
No. They don’t ever really check Instagram. They probably don’t care if I post there or not.
Will it benefit myself?
Well, I tend to measure my worth based upon the number of “likes” I get, so probably not.
(Related: You Are Not Your Instagram by Kristen Shane)
4. Will posting this picture devalue my friendships/the moment pictured in the photograph?
This is a big one for me. This is a huge reason why I broke up with Instagram in the first place.
I believe that posting about what my friends/family are doing all the time devalues my relationships with them. It makes it less special, because now everyone knows about it. It’s no longer a memory shared just between us, but now a memory shared with all of my followers too.
I want the times shared with my friends, family, boyfriend, classmates, etc. to be special. I want to treasure the memories by NOT posting about them on Instagram… which is the complete opposite of what I used to believe.
In the past, I thought posting pictures to Instagram was a way to treasure the memory of the event pictured. I thought it was a way to later remember what had happened.
And yes, I do think Social Media is great about giving us an outlet to record memories. Instagram though, in my opinion, is not the best way to go about this.
With Instagram, if I wanted to find a particular picture from three years ago, I would have to spend ten minutes scrolling down my profile’s feed. However, Facebook uses albums to group pictures, so I can find the memory much faster that way.
Thus far, asking myself these four questions has convinced me each time not to post the picture.
Someday, maybe, my answers will change and my motives for posting a picture will be pure. But until then, the photograph will go into Chatbooks and/or I’ll post it to Facebook with the privacy settings set to where only I can see it.
I still don’t know how long I’ll stay off of Instagram. This differs from the social media fast that I took last year in that regard (read about it here). All I know is despite it being really hard, my life has changed for the better without Instagram being in it.
Do you have any guidelines you think through before you post on Social Media? Let me know below! :)