5 Reasons Why I'm Spending Less Time on Instagram This Summer (And Why You Should Too)

Saturday 6 July 2019

It's been a while since I've blogged on here, but now that I'm officially on summer break, I'm excited to get back into it! Honestly, I'm a horrible blogger, maybe posting twice a year. Instagram is where I am most active, and I have been posting regularly on my account @teachinginthetropicsblog since I started it 5 years ago. However, if you follow me on there, you may have noticed that this year I've been posting on Instagram a lot less frequently than I used to. There's a reason for that - five reasons actually - and I'm sharing them today in hopes that someone reading this will dare to spend a little less time on the Gram.

Disclaimer: The intention of this post is not to bash Instagram. It is actually my favorite social media platform and there are so many positive things about it! However, as I've discovered, even a good thing can become harmful in excess. As I share my journey with you, my goal is to show you the JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) that I've discovered in reducing my time on Instagram.

1. Instagram causes comparison, which breeds discontentment.

Instagram has often been referred to as a highlight reel, and even though we are aware of that, we still can't help but compare ourselves to strangers on the internet. Although I consider myself to be secure in my identity as a teacher and as an individual, I have found myself falling into the comparison trap at times and envying the lifestyle, skills, possessions, and achievements of the people I follow. I tend to think, "If I had access to the technology that she has in her classroom, I'd be a better teacher" or "If I had a home office like that, I'd be happier and more productive." Instead of counting my blessings and being content with all that I do have, Instagram causes me to focus on what I don't have, which is definitely a joy-killer. Don't get me wrong - the temptation to compare myself to others is present in real life too, but Instagram brings it to a whole new level.

2. Instagram causes me to buy things I don't need.

This point goes hand in hand with the first one. The hashtag #instagrammademedoit, though funny, has become the sad truth behind a lot of people's purchases over the years, including my own. I can't tell you how many things I have bought for my classroom after seeing others post about them on Instagram. This hasn't always been a bad thing; a few of those purchases have actually been quite useful. But if I'm being honest, most of them were totally unnecessary. Thankfully, I have not been able to purchase everything I have seen on Instagram. I live in the Cayman Islands where there is no Target, Michael's, Dollar Tree, Amazon Prime, etc., which means that I physically can't buy something as soon as I see it in my feed. However, I go on vacation to the US every summer, which happens to be the most tempting time of year on Instagram with all the cute back to school stuff rolling out. I have often found myself going overboard with my shopping on my summer trips and have realized that I probably wouldn't buy all these things if I hadn't seen them on Instagram first. I haven't gone to the US yet this summer, but as the date grows closer, I have been reining myself in and reminding myself that more stuff won't make me a better or happier teacher/person. Something that has been helpful for me is to reread a blog post I wrote on this very topic almost two years ago. Click here to read it!

3. Instagram causes me to become self-focused.

We have never lived in more self-focused culture than the one we live in today and Instagram ultimately encourages that. I've noticed that the more time I spend on Instagram, the more self-obsessed I become. I begin to crave the attention and validation of others, wanting more likes, more followers, more recognition - ultimately putting myself on a pedestal. The time I give to Instagram each day also causes me to focus on myself, and not in a good way. When our heads are down in our phones, we tune out the real world around us and neglect the needs of others. This summer, I want to spend more of my time focusing on serving God and others instead of myself.

4. Instagram takes time away from what truly matters.

This also builds on the last point. I am embarrassed to tell you how much time I was spending on Instagram before I began setting limits for myself. I spent hours on there each day, especially once stories rolled out. (Anyone else find it hard to stop watching instastories once you start?) I also realized that the more I posted, the more time I spent in the app responding to comments and DMs, which is one of the reasons I no longer post on there as frequently as I used to. I have found myself sitting next to my grandparents (who are 85 and 86) and scrolling through Instagram instead of having a conversation with them. Although they are in good health, I do not know how much longer I will have them here with me, and when they are gone, I know I won't think to myself, "Gosh, I wish I had spent more time on Instagram." In fact, I know I won't be saying that when my own life is almost over. With that in mind, I want to be more present this summer, to steward my time well and spend it cultivating relationships with the people around me.

5. Instagram isn't necessary to be a good teacher.

For a long time, I bought into the myth that I needed Instagram to be a good teacher. I believed that Instagram would provide me with all the tips and tricks to become a better teacher for my students. Yes, Instagram certainly provides us with a wealth of information, but all of it can be found through other resources as well. There are times during the school year when I chose to unplug from Instagram and guess what? My students still learned. I was still a good teacher. And so are you. That lesson is still awesome, even if you don't share it on Instagram. You are still a great teacher, even if you don't implement the latest teaching trends or decorate your classroom. You are still a great teacher, even if you have one follower on Instagram. Because the truth is, teaching isn't and never was about Instagram; it's about loving our students well and teaching them with every ounce of passion in our hearts.

Friends, there is so much more to life than Instagram. And that's what I'm keeping in mind this summer. The real FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) isn't when we miss out on all that's happening on Instagram; it's when we miss out on all that's in front of us in the real world. This summer, I'm excited to experience the JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) that comes when I choose to spend less time on Instagram and more time on what matters most. I'm excited to experience the beauty of being present, to open my eyes to everything I didn't see while they were glued to my Instagram feed. Will you join me this summer? Will you dare to be present, scroll a little less, and spend time on what truly matters? If this is a challenge for you like it is for me, I would love to connect with you so we can encourage one another. Feel free to leave a comment on this post or email me at teachinginthetropics@gmail.com!

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