I deleted my Instagram App

I feel like I should clarify that I haven’t deleted my actual account. I didn’t want to take that step in case I decide to return to Instagram, but I have deleted the app and haven’t seen an Instagram feed in about a fortnight.

I should probably explain why I made the decision to do this. I began to find that Instagram was just another stop on the rounds of scrolling through apps for whatever psychological reason it is that we do that (it’s certainly not fulfilling). I probably posted once every 3 months on average, and every time I did I would be glued to my phone waiting for ‘enough’ likes to come in so that I wasn’t as concerned about people judging me anymore. I remember when I was about 12 years old being allowed to create a Bebo account. Firstly I want to point out how much more creative and wacky Bebo was than any of the social media sites we have now, in many ways it allowed for a higher level of individualised self expression, but anyway… I think that was the first time I ever felt the panic of not having enough social media likes. On Bebo they were called hearts/ ‘luvs’ and you saw when you clicked on somebody’s profile how many hearts somebody had. I don’t remember how many I had at any given point but I remember clicking on some of the pages of the popular girls at school and seeing that they had hundreds. Actually, I remember at times this would put me into a panic and I think it was the same for almost everybody. People would practically beg each other for hearts and comment things like ‘luv 4 luv’ etc (late 2000’s text language was an abomination) on each other’s profiles to try and up their count.

Now, Bebo is long gone but it has been replaced with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The reason I decided to delete Instagram and not either of the other two is because, to me, Twitter and Facebook still have some inherent value that overrides the pressure and anxiety that comes with all social media. Facebook allows me to stay connected with the more obscure people in my life, to have a cheeky look at what people I went to school with are up to and Facebook Messenger is the main way I communicate with my friends on a daily basis. With twitter it’s slightly different, I don’t actually feel too much pressure to get a whole load of likes on my tweets. I also tend to find that there’s a genuine correlation between the content of tweets and how many likes they get. If the tweet’s shit it’ll probably get less than 5 likes regardless of how popular you were in school. The value of twitter to me is information. It’s a useful source of world news, pop culture trends and hashtags have become sort of a staple in the development of a lot of ideological movements.

Instagram, however, does not have any of these redeeming features for me. Personally, Instagram epitomises all of my anxieties with social media. One of my absolute least favourite things about it is that people are congratulated on physical attractiveness (whether it be false under a guise of makeup/filters/edits or genuine) as if it’s some kind of achievement. If somebody looks especially nice they “deserve” more likes. This is a mentality that many of us have without even realising, because when you actually think about it it’s completely MENTAL! Nobody EARNED the way they look. Angelina Jolie didn’t excel in some obstacle course before she was born that granted her the gift of good looks just in the same way that a baby with a deformity didn’t do anything bad to deserve it either. I’ve heard some of my friends say things like “if they look especially nice I’ll give it a like” and to be honest I’ve grown tired of the shallowness… I’ve also found Instagram to be a bit of a breeding ground for fakeness. We like other people’s content just to receive likes or portray ourselves in a positive light (kind of like the hearts on Bebo). The chances are people have only liked your picture in the hope that you will in turn like their next one. It’s not genuine and they probably didn’t spend more than three seconds looking at it, and what’s worse? You don’t care. You don’t care that it’s disingenuous as long as the numbers are there for everyone to see when they scroll past you looking for their own posts to fixate on. Really, what’s the point?

Lastly, but DEFINITELY not least, is the body image aspect of Instagram. The majority of pictures people post are edited at least in some way. You’re not looking at the face of your best friend sitting across the sofa from you each day, you’re looking at a construct. It’s easy to spot this with people you spend a lot of time with, but where it gets dangerous is when you begin to compare yourself to celebrities and acquaintances that you don’t see in person. You don’t have the reality to balance out the edited version and that’s when insecurities start to fester. I know girls that spend hours and hours a day just scrolling through images of toned girls in bikinis, this isn’t healthy.

I ended up finding that scrolling on Instagram was causing me more upset than any kind of rewarding sensation it was supposed to give me. I probably only spent about fifteen minutes a day (on average) on Instagram, but in those fifteen minutes I could go from feeling totally fine to feeling worse about myself, even if it was just a tiny amount. I’ve decided that, for now, it’s just not worth it for me. I’ve already had messages from anxious friends asking me to like their latest post and it’s only a reminder that social media can be a truly insidious way to make an enemy out of yourself and to commodify your friendships. Even though I’ve only deleted Instagram, it’s one less thing to worry about. One less thing to squander my time scrolling through.

 

Until next time,

J x

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Life Update: Moving and University

Tomorrow I am moving. A few months ago in a previous life update I mentioned that I had a new flat. So far I’ve lived somewhere different for every year of uni (I’m going into third year now) and I’m hoping that this flat will be the one I stay in from now on!

Key differences between new flat and old flat include:

  • New flat is not infested with mice.
  • New flat has a living room.
  • New flat has a properly fitted kitchen with a window.
  • New flat is just for Ellie and I so we can do whatever we want.

I am SO glad that when I get off the train tomorrow and get in a taxi home it won’t be to my old flat. It was a second story tenement that had been lazily looked after and was rented out at a ridiculous price to students who knew no better (me). Living there was a total misery. I woke up in my room, studied in my room, ate my meals in my room and socialised in my room (or Ellie’s). There was no communal area to spend time in. We weren’t even allowed to keep a table in the hallway so our dining room was literally in Ellie’s room which was disgusting.

It’s a miracle that I passed the year and made it into honours to be honest. I didn’t study and I didn’t go to classes. In fact it got so extreme once that I read two novels in a day right before an exam once. Somehow I got my first A at university in my honours subject English Literature, but I also got a G in another subject so you know… that wasn’t so great haha.

Over the summer I’ve had plenty of time to think about how I want to go forward in my third year. I’ve overhauled my diet (which was genuinely shocking last year) and exercise routing and I’ve decided that I want my whole lifestyle to be different. It probably sounds like a cliche, I mean I say “i’m going to work harder this time” at the start of every term but deep down I do always know I don’t mean it. This time, I really do and I’m taking steps towards it already. I’ve got started reading books for my Victorian Literature course and I really believe that living in a new flat that is actually fit for human habitation will allow me to lead a more stable life with a routine.

The days of being so hungover I spend most of the day in front of the toilet at least twice a week and buying a bottle of wine (to sit and drink by myself) on my way home from the one class of the week I actually attended are over. They need to be. Spending like a third of my life hungover is maybe the biggest reason I never got any work done and also it just feels HORRIBLE. Anyone who’s ever been a big drinker will probably have come to a point in their life where they’ve either had some kind of intervention or done it for themselves.

Anyway, enough of that alcohol talk. Tomorrow I am getting on a train, probably not very gracefully because I will be struggling with a lot of luggage, and heading back down to Glasgow for round 3. Also my brother is coming with my to come to an open day, so I won’t be completely by myself when I arrive at the flat. That’ll be nice because coming from a house of 4 people and 2 cats to an empty flat can be daunting! I’m always the first one in the flat.

Well that’s about all I have to update right now. Oh and in a week I’m going to Valencia with a few friends!!!

Until next time,

J x

Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

I’ve wanted to read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath for so many years now. Ever since I studied Plath’s poetry in Advanced Higher English when I was 17 this book has been on my list. I just never got around to it… I think anyone who reads can relate to the feeling of having a pile of books you want to read getting bigger and bigger before you’ve actually managed to read them all.

Anyway, because I’m on summer break from university at the moment I’ve had the opportunity to read books of my own choice for a change. I’ve been reading other people’s blog posts about The Bell Jar and because of some changes I’ve gone/am going through in my own life at the moment I thought now would just be the perfect time to read it.

I won’t lie, I wasn’t initially grabbed by it. It took my a good 70 or so pages before I was truly invested in Esther Greenwood and the story, but when I think about it that goes for most books with me.

One thing I decided almost immediately was that I wasn’t a fan of the character Doreen, she seemed self absorbed, vain and obnoxious and, honestly, whenever her character was involved in the story it irritated me.

The first half of the book was, I suppose, establishing the situation Esther was in and the stage in her life she was at. For reasons that obviously become apparent she seems completely dissatisfied with her life and her relationships. As a reader I found this slightly uncomfortable to read (not in a bad way, it’s good when books evoke a reaction from their readers!) because I have this uncontrollable need to make sure people are having a good time and when I read about Esther being at parties or with friends and clearly having an absolutely shit time I just wanted to pass the girl a drink, put her favourite song on and get her to have a boogie… well, try.

One of my FAVOURITE things about The Bell Jar was Plath’s writing style. Her poetry is, perhaps, what she’s most famous for (unfortunately, other than her infamous personal struggles) and I was curious to see how she dealt with writing in such a different format. To my surprise her style of writing was incredible readable and easy to understand, but you could still tell that it was the same woman who’d written such brilliant poetry who was writing. The descriptions were amazing, at points I just had to pause and think “wow that was so well written”. She conveyed Esther’s experiences perfectly and this extended later into the novel when things became a lot darker.

When “the bell jar descended” upon Esther and her mental health really took a turn for the worse, that’s when I really became fully engaged in the book. Suddenly, we weren’t in this glamorous world of journalism and high society, we were in a mental ward with Esther enduring badly conducted electrotherapy. The visceral descriptions of this treatment were difficult to read but, to me, incredibly interesting as were the parts of the novel that took place inside different hospitals. I really think anybody who’s suffered from mental health problems, particularly depression, would find this an interesting read.

The ending of the story is bitter sweet. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers for those who haven’t read the book, but one of the reasons it’s so famous is because of Plath’s death just one month after it’s publication. So, naturally, this is a very dark read, but one that I think is worthwhile to anybody interested in literature and/or learning about mental health.

Until next time,

J x