Jackson: Pressing ‘delete’ on social media isn’t always a loss

Cassidy Jackson, Assistant Opinion Editor

This June, I caved under the weight of my extreme FOMO and downloaded Instagram and essentially… I came, I saw and I left. Just two months after signing up, I pressed the “permanently delete” button.

Before Instagram entered the picture, my social media repertoire was basically zero to say the least. I only used two platforms: Twitter and Facebook. And I surfed them maybe five minutes a day — and that’s being generous.

Facebook entered my life after getting my Northwestern acceptance email. I eagerly signed up solely to post and read posts on the “NU – Class of 2021 Female Roomies” page. But after I decided to wing it and get a random roommate, Facebook became just a site to scroll through events happening in Chicago and Evanston. Twitter, on the other hand, came into the picture against my will. I got it for a journalism class. And after that class ended, I stopped posting on Twitter.

And finally, Instagram came into the picture because of good ol’ FOMO. Every so often, friends would ask for my Instagram handle, or attempt to tag me in a post to no avail, or just ask to send me an Instagram meme. Eventually, I took the plunge and created an account.

I naively assumed it would be another quick sign-up-then-delete ordeal. Instead, it became a dependency ordeal. Instagram quickly became my go-to boredom release and metaphorical pressure tank: feeding me unnecessary pressure to attain “enough” likes and make my life seem as stellar as possible.

So I went from not giving a hoot about social media to being dangerously up-to-date on it. Going into it, I was naive and failed to realize that, for me, Instagram was a pressure cooker for obsession with live videos, stories, posts, explore pages and more. There’s so many different avenues for you to obsess over other people’s lives and for you to attempt to make other people obsess over yours. I avoided watching Insta stories, never watched a live video, but I still fell in the trap of comparing my life adventures to other people’s.

In the end, two things led me to press “delete”: realizing my impact and realizing it all didn’t matter. I’ve felt the negative emotions associated with comparison firsthand, and I came to the conclusion that with each click of “post,” I was simply adding to the comparison phenomenon. I wasn’t posting motivational quotes or inspirational content. Instead, I was posting pictures of myself looking cool and doing cool things with witty captions.

The more I thought about it, the more I had to ask myself, “What effect am I having?” And as everyone always says, Instagram is a highlight reel. A highlight reel where you show yourself on bae-cation, posing with your “besties” and cheesing ear to ear. All the while, behind a cracked iPhone screen, Susan is probably wishing she had a boo like you, and Tracy is wishing she had the funds to go to Lollapalooza.

Whether we admit it or not, our social media posts have impact, and as summer came to a close, I realized I’d rather have zero impact than a potentially negative one. Because let’s be honest, media already offers enough images of perfection, and it doesn’t need me to add to it.

The final straw that pushed me to press “delete” was I had nothing holding me back. Even after my roommate search came to an end, I stayed on Facebook because keeping up with campus and Chicago events is important to me. Even after my journalism class was in the past, I stayed on Twitter, because I live for the political commentary and hilarious memes Twitter has to offer. But when I questioned, “why Instagram?” and “why do I post?” there was no valid reason — just FOMO and likes.

Yet, with Instagram detracting from my happiness, my time and my energy, the excuses of missing out and likes weren’t enough. After realizing that, I had no choice but to delete the app.

So, after searching the intricate maneuvers you have to make just to delete an Instagram account, it was gone. But who knows? Maybe I’ll reopen an account after gaining a healthier mindset with social media. Instagram and social media aren’t the looming devils of the Internet, but the truth is, social media can easily bring out our inner demons. Instagram definitely succeeded at showcasing mine.

Cassidy Jackson is a Medill sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.