In June of this year, I deleted my Instagram profile.

I created my account in December 2013 and couldn’t wait to share photos of different moments in my life with family and friends. My very first post was of an excited Gili in Times Square — I had recently moved to New York, please don’t judge me. The thrill of getting likes and comments was real.

But over my ten years or so on the app, I developed a knack for doing deep dives into celebrity lives and crushes that only made me feel unworthy. Where in the world was Andrew Garfield, I’d turn to Instagram to find out. Was “Just for Us” comedian Alex Edelman still dating Hannah Einbinder from “Hacks”? And what cool parties was Zoe Lister Jones attending that I definitely wasn’t invited to?

But after spending a week of my vacation this summer glued to Instagram watching videos of stage door meet-and-greets between “West Side Story” actor Mike Faist and his fans, I reached a breaking point.

I realized that instead of frolicking on the beach, I’d spent much of the time on the app and feeling like crap because I wasn’t somewhere else with people I’d been seeing online.

That’s when I decided to quit Instagram. I went cold turkey and deleted my profile on the spot.

My life has been both slower and richer ever since.

Instagram made me feel empty

I am far from the first user to feel the negative effects of Instagram.

The app has 2 billion monthly users, according to data site DataReportal. It was the fourth most-used social site in July 2023 following Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp.

Wildwoods, New Jersey, with Kiersten.

Courtesy Gili Malinsky

Social media’s addictive nature has long been reported on. A “like” on the apps can prompt release of the feel-good hormone dopamine, according to the Harvard Business Review, which motivates users to keep checking in — to the detriment of their mental health.

A 2019 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that adolescents who spend more than three hours per day on social media are at a heightened risk for anxiety and depression.

When it came to my own mental health, there was a clear distinction between how scrolling versus actually living my life made me feel.

While catching up with friends, going to an Off Broadway show or nailing a new recipe left me overjoyed, scrolling always left me feeling pretty empty. Being immersed in images of people’s seemingly better and more exciting lives can have exactly that effect, according to mental health website Psych Central.

Instagram ate up my time

There was also the time-suck component.

I’m trying to be more intentional about how I fill up any free time. I deleted my (then) Twitter (now X) account about a year ago and stopped using dating apps in April 2022.

Scottish West Highlands were nuts.

Courtesy Gili Malinsky

I aspire to what Harvard professor Ashley Whillans calls time affluence, or “the state of having and using time meaningfully,” according to her book, “Time Smart.” This type of attitude, she writes, improves wellbeing.

Not surprisingly, social media is among the tech she describes as time traps: activities that make you feel time poor instead of affluent. Even if all I did was check Instagram for 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes less that I have to spend on all of the infinitely more important activities on my to-do list.

My evenings move slower now

It’s been about six months since deleting the app and though life still presents its regular ups and downs, I’ve been happier with one less thing to drag down my mood.

I feel time richer now, too. Without the black hole of Instagram, the evening hours do feel like they’re moving slower.

I do miss out on announcements and general life updates — I was probably the last person to know that my friend Laura was pregnant and missed all of my other friend Diana’s drool-worthy reels from her trip in southern France — but all of these are pretty good excuses to meet up in person and create memories in life instead of in tech.

Bowling at Jenn’s wedding.

Courtesy Gili Malinsky

The biggest adjustment I had to make after deleting my profile came with how it feels to take pictures now. I was so used to taking them for everyone else, without an audience it felt like there wasn’t really a point.

Then I remembered that, as a kid, I loved making photo albums. I’d buy a disposable camera and take it to Cabot’s or Johnny’s (or wherever my friends and I were meeting up). I’d relive those captured moments when printing and arranging the photos.

Soon after deleting my Instagram profile, I decided to pick up that habit again. Now when I snap any photos, it’s in anticipation of Jan. 1, 2024.

On that day I plan to print out my many adventures from 2023, arrange them in a goofy album I found in a bookstore, and remember how lucky I am to have had those experiences at all.

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