"Comparison is the thief of joy."
Instagram is a social media platform where you can get a peek into the life of anyone and everyone - from the most famous to the absolutely infamous and everything in between. Want to know what Lindsay Lohan had for breakfast? Just check Instagram. What Donald Trump Junior did over the weekend? It will be there, in all its spray-painted-gold glory. Want to watch your creepy neighbor working out in a too-small bathing suit? Strangers watching clothes dry on a dusty clothes line in China? A large hotdog exploding? Hedgehogs having an orgy? Sculptures made from Nutella? Art made from feces? Hedgehogs having an orgy in Nutella and feces? IT'S ALL THERE! Just waiting for you. And for me it's as addictive as crack. I don't spend much time on Instagram looking at famous people. I spend more time on animal rescue sites like the @thedodo and comedians like the really weird (in the best way) Theo Von @theovon who is an addict and is oddly hilarious (to me at least). There are also some amazing swing dancers like Tadas Vasilauskas from Lithuania @vasiliauskastadas. You can see anything and everything on Instagram and in that way it can be incredible.
What do these dancers and animal rescues and random comedians have to do with me? I'll tell you. I find that I'll start off innocently enough...say bored on a Thursday afternoon, that 4 p.m. lull in activity, energy and creativity that I assume exists in work places everywhere. That seems like a perfect time to just see what my friends on Instagram are up to. Anyone rescue a baby elephant from a well in Jakarta today? Has "Tad" learned any new steps? Has Theo been to a Walmart sale in a swamp in Louisiana and shared his experience with us? That is how I start. But it never ends well. Because although I love seeing the dances and the puppies and hilarity, I find myself more often that not searching up people that I despise. People that make me mad. People that I absolutely and unapologetically love to hate.
Who do I love to hate? Men and women in my town that make me sick with their ostentatious show of wealth and their freakily large and too white teeth. A random acquaintance who ignored me years ago at a cocktail party. Clients that only hired me once. People who are not raising their children in a way I deem suitable. An evil model I once worked with who has aged terribly, pumping so much filler into her face that she looks like she swallowed an industrial grade air hose. I can stalk them all on Instagram and then get some sort of sick, angry, speedy, superior rush. The rush of spying on people that I love to hate. I become inflamed with schadenfreude, willing misery and failure upon them all. I stew, wallowing in a pit of self-righteous anger and judgement. Of "what a monster" and "how could they!" It's sort of delicious (as are most of my character defects) at the beginning. I can lie in bed at night and ponder "what's that bitch up to today?" and before I know it I'm down a wormhole watching "Nancy" work out with her trainer, and then pick up the kids, and then unpack her new Dior handbag that was just delivered to her doorstep from the Neiman Marcus in Dallas. P.S: She got "the last bag of its kind...in the country!!!!" Grrrrrr. I'm getting mad. What is it with this self righteous anger? I just lap it up. I seek it out. I'm addicted to it.
And so, Instagram may have to go the way my other addictions have gone. Into the trash. Unless I am able to only look at things that feed me, that are good for me. One of my gurus Mooji asks his students "What kind of food are you feeding your mind?" And I have to answer “Junk! Pure junk." Instagram feeds my mind the nutritional equivalent of a bag of flaming hot nacho Doritos and a large MeatZZa Feast pizza from Dominos. All washed down with an extra large Oreo McFlurry milkshake with added M&Ms from McDonalds. That’s what I feed my mind and then I ask it to thrive. I demand that it be clear and creative. How is that going to happen with all that junk oozing around in there? It's not.
So I’ve de-activated all but my Blenderhead account and I allow myself 45 minutes a week to maintain it. A big change from the former hour…or more I would spend there…every single day. Yet in writing this piece I had to look up the Instagram addresses for my "friends" Theo and Tadas there. And I was thrilled. "This isn't a slip" I reason with myself. I'm doing "research". This is "important". I looked up Theo and The Dodo and Tadeus to make sure I had the correct Instagram "handles" for them and then quick as lightning I was looking at someone I love to hate. This was not a conscious decision. It just happened. And guess what? That psychopath was breastfeeding 2 babies at once in a bikini while seductively putting on lipgloss. Of course she was. I would expect nothing less.
So I deleted the app from my phone. And you won't believe who reached out a mere 24 hours later. Instagram’s owner Mark Zuckerberg…or at least someone from the Instagram mothership. "We want you back." "We miss you." "Look what you're missing." "Do you know what you missed?" "You don't want to miss more." "If you miss much more of this you might die." And so on. I know the demands to have my attention back will continue, most likely getting increasingly aggressive as I refuse to rejoin my Instagram "family" that misses me "SO MUCH!"
I'm flattered that Mark Zuckerberg misses me. Or at least I'm flattered that the bots that run Instagram do. But I'm also mad. I'm trying to quit an addiction here, Mark...please, leave me alone, you weird-as-fuck freaky-ass drug-pushing punk.
I’m mad but I'm also laughing, amused by my bad habits and inclinations. I wonder what else I can feed my mind other than all that junk. Lately that has been time spent without my phone. And if I'm with my phone I listen to music, books on tape and lectures of my gurus du jour. By doing this I find I am less agitated, less stressed, less anxious. Without indulging in the constant comparison to others that Instagram promotes I just feel better.
As an added bonus to all this I am discovering space in my mind. By putting my phone down, quitting almost all social media and meditating, I'm finding a spacious silence. Pure silence - and that, to me, is the most surprisingly beautiful sound I have ever heard.