Well. That was…fast.
Tomorrow is Holy Thursday, marking the end of my very secular Lenten fast from Instagram. I did not utilize the Sunday cheat day (and realized the Church has a loose interpretation of “40” when Day 40 was not the end of Lent), which has gifted me a wonderful 44 Instagram-free days.
What have I learned?
I don’t need it. Furthermore — and more importantly — I do not like Instagram.
I now understand how I want to use the internet: to engage with creative content. I discovered The Big Picture and The Rewatchables podcasts and — after listening to hours of thoughtful, hilarious conversations about film — recovered my love for the artform, specifically the movies I grew up with. I spent a solid two weeks diving into the Kibbe method and have a clearer picture of my late 30s-early 40s aesthetic. Scrolling VSCO inspires me to find art in everyday life. Diligently crafting my fanfic universe on Tumblr lets my imaginative inner child run rampant.
I like my news in 15 minute bits at the beginning of the day (thank you, NPR Up First). I want my pop culture consumption to begin and end with a quick “Damn, that’s crazy” headline skim on Google News.
My friends? I prefer them in real life.
I had two excellent “let’s catch up” meals with my BFF in charming little restaurants (a family-owned Brazilian spot that — oddly — had a table full of former NBA players the night we visited, and an Italian spot in Little Italy) over red wine and delectable food. I started the habit of texting friends on Friday evenings like “Hey, have time for a chat?” and cackling over the phone while I
gulp sip wine and cook dinner. And I’ve been the happy recipient of “can you explain this astrology thing right quick” and “I saw this and thought of you” text messages.
That’s how I want my friendships. Direct. One-on-one. Not mediated through algorithms and bad memes.
Then, there’s my self-image. I “arrived” on the internet as a skinny, sassy, the world is my oyster 23-year-old. I dated and flirted, believed I could T-shirt and jeans my way through life while eating whatever I wanted and stubbornly refusing to work out. I drank my weight in Jameson. I was loudly feminist and liberal, lived and breathed ESPN, and was an unabashed guys’ girl.
Fifteen years later, I’m lean, but lush with
no little faith in the world. A committed spinster who thinks of clothes in terms of shapes and lines. I work out five times a week and try to have the bulk of my carbs in the middle of the day. I still like my Jameson neat, but reach for red wine first. My feminism is soft at best and while I’m as liberal as I was fifteen years ago, the world is far more radical, placing my political sensibilities closer to center. Instead of 24-hour sports coverage, I binge to 2-3 hour podcasts about 1,000-year old astrological theories and movies that came out 30 years ago. I still hold my own in a group of men while also acknowledging that men…kind of an overrated experience.
I’m chiseling away the vestiges of youth and considering the new hunk of clay that is my 40something self. On WordPress, this feels like a slow, steady revelation. On Instagram, it’s a daily “new me” announcement where I navigate “Harpo, who dis woman?” comments whenever I behave outside of a character I’ve left behind.
With all this in mind, I don’t know what I’ll do with Instagram going forward. Other than use it less. Or try really hard to do so.