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Mike MacKenzie

How To Break Up with Instagram Successfully*

There are many ways to become Insta-famous. This is not that article.

This is about how to be more mindful, more present, and honestly, to stop giving a shit. Most likely, you’ve decided that you have a problem with technology, had a fallout with your Instagram husband, or some combination of the two.

But if admitting the truth is hard, let’s say it’s starting to impact performance at work, unless its actual work, then perhaps consider seeing whether its warped perspective on real life. See Step One.

In fact, we’ve managed to even break it down to a 12-step program.1 Social media addiction is at least quasi-real.

(There’s no real need to Instagram all those travel photos. The only thing that it will do is succeed making everyone who is working a 9-5 hate you all that much more, and depending on the circle of friends you have, might mean losing any social invites you may have, unless you’ve already lost them all.)

The twelve steps

The first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem. 

But, if we’re going to treat it like the real addiction it is, let’s break it down:

  1. Tell yourself whatever lies you need to.
  2. Pick Facebook or Instagram to ditch, not both.
  3. Have one good last Instagram binge.
  4. Tell somebody about the plan.
  5. Turn off notifications.
  6. Stop looking at Instagram a full hour or two before bedtime.
  7. Then avoid posting and going on the app for 48 hours.
  8. Give someone permission to change your password.
  9. Deactivate Instagram.
  10. Uninstall Instagram.
  11. Find a new hobby. Do things.
  12. Permanently delete the Instagram account forever.

Hopefully you can break up with those selfies while you’re at it. (Dalton Forman / Flickr)

Tell yourself whatever lies you need to.

If anything, after quitting Instagram, you can probably turn into that person that IS SO COOL THEY DON’T NEED INSTAGRAM. Tell yourself whatever you need to. If you need your horoscope to guide your life and give you a sense of purpose in life, I’m all for that. ‘

I’m all for coping mechanisms and whatever lies that enable you to function in the world.

Pick Facebook or Instagram to ditch, not both.

There was once a time that if you didn’t exist on Facebook, you probably didn’t exist in real life. But no one cares about Facebook anymore because its full of weddings, photos of trips you’ll never take, and stupid articles about Trump you don’t want to read about. Meaning, everyone of real worth is on Instagram.

So now if you don’t exist on Instagram, you probably don’t exist in real life. But here’s the thing: as long as you have a Facebook account, you still like *kinda* exist. It’s like, wow, I’m not sure if Erica is dead or not, but look, I found her birth certificate!

Besides, it’s hard to remember everyone’s birthdays.

Have one good last Instagram binge.

This honestly serves no real purpose but why not give yourself one last good stalk to see which photos your ex is liking, browse the latest kitty cat videos, and see what else your friends are cooking for dinner. (Bring it.)

Go ahead and like everyone’s photos, to remind them that you, too, were still once alive.

But remember, here is proof that you will never be the Instagram queen that you wish to be, unless your name is Michelle Kwan:

⛸👧🏻👧🏼👩🏻 @oliviaoppegard @sophia.oppegard

A post shared by Michelle Kwan (@michellewkwan) on

Tell somebody about the plan.

Accountability, etc, etc.

Turn off notifications.

This is actually a significant step. It’s really easily to be distracted by that constant notification. Out of sight, out of mind, so the saying goes.

Even if it’s not possible to turn off notifications through the app, its possible to still do this for specific apps via the phone’s settings. For the most part, this involves going into operating settings for the phone, and heading to the notifications section. Here’s instructions for Android and iOS

Stop looking at Instagram a full hour or two before bedtime.

Do this for a solid week before moving onto the next stop.

It’s the most crucial step, because it’s impossible to go cold turkey and survive.

There’s scientific proof that playing around on the phone before bed makes it harder to sleep at night. Is the last thing you want to think right before you go to bed is to think about how great everyone else’s life seems to be? It’s the worst club to join in the world.

Take it one step further and power off the phone before bed. Chances are, your body runs on such clockwork that you won’t even be able to sleep past 7 am.

Then avoid posting and going on the app for 48 hours.

Set a timer if need be. Repeat this step until you are able to successfully complete the 48-hour period.

Give someone permission to change your password.

Remember that buddy? Because the temptation will be real and strong. To be more productive, give this person a timeline, such as, “do not give me my Instagram password under zero circumstances until two weeks/four weeks have passed.” The point is to go cold turkey so hard that the habit finally breaks.

Deactivate Instagram.

This is what deactivating Instagram looks like. Yes, your account is still there. (Placeit)

I can successfully confirm that I have done this and am still alive.

I have been reassured by Instagram that my followers will still exist until my next breakdown. Or my next big trip. Whatever happens next.

In fact, it’s not even possible to abuse and reuse Instagram’s deactivate feature. It’s only possible to use it once a week, so save those deactivates and use them with great care!

Uninstall Instagram.

There. I said it.

I mean, I didn’t even know this was possible to do, until I was super drunk at a wedding and we were daaaaaannncing and one of the bridesmaids leaned in to whisper me her Instagram secret.

Once the act has been done, every time you type in Instagram, the phone will blink back nothing. Nothing. 

It turns out this helps a lot. There will be times you will reinstall Instagram. But you will be better able to resist installing it. Remember to uninstall again.

(Deactivating an Instagram account helps greatly in removing the urge to install it again.)

Find a new hobby. Do things.

There will be lots of newfound time. Find a book to read. Go to the library. Go see a play. Go watch a movie. Build furniture. Go back to therapy!

The point is to fill up all that time on Instagram with the cool things you should have been doing that would have been cool to post on Instagram. Instead of posting things on Instagram (or checking whether to see the ex liked your latest photo and no, he didn’t, so stop crying), it is now possible to regain control of your life, and tell people about these activities in person.

Meaning, go see friends in person! Be the cool conversationalist that I know you could always be! Impress your dates and go get laid! That’s super better than Instagram!

Permanently delete the Instagram account forever.

If you manage to successfully get to this step, call me.

1 footnote

  1. It turns out breaking up with Instagram is hard, and occasionally relapses occurred. Despite that, I can report, overall, that I’m sleeping much better, feel more present, am much more productive at work, and even seem to be exercising more effectively, probably because I’m not checking Instagram like a crack-riddled junkie anymore. Instagram is nothing else but a terrible tool for comparing your life against what you think other people’s lives are like, and it’s wonderful to remember that again.





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