When media stops being social. Pt. I

When Instagram stories first popped up on my radar, I thought to myself: I am not getting involved with this. This is just another form of media that will suck away my time and attention span. I am going to resist.
I resisted for about two months before I was right, up in the front, consuming and producing stories for my Instagram followers. Suddenly, everything became important. Making soup became important and worthy of documenting. Going for walks with my husband became important and worthy of documenting. Little things– things that used to be simple and all my own– became packaged and delivered out into the world. My life was ready to be consumed.
We’ve seen the good, the negative, and the somewhat weird effects because of that delivery. We’ve been in public places where people come up to us and classify us as “couple goals.” We get the “I love watching your life” comments.  I don’t fault these people. We put it out there. As much as we think our actions won’t affect people, they do. Somehow, I have thousands of people who watch me cook dinner or go out on a date night. I give them peeks into my life. It’s on me.
But recently, I started to feel tired. I noticed that even though I was creating my own Instagram stories, I went spending just as much time (maybe more) consuming the stories of other people. Rarely, unless it was a food blogger, did I walk away feeling like I retained any of the information. More than that, I was consuming the stories happening in the lives of my friends. I was peeking in throughout the day to see what they were up to, how their work was going, or what funny things they’d discovered about life that hour.
Instagram stories became a regular habit in my life. I watched them in the morning, sleep still stuck in my eyes. Lane and I would sit up in bed and you could hear the voices of friends and family floating over the railings of our lofted bedroom.
I found different feelings starting to sprout up inside of me: exhaustion, sadness, and envy. Never joy though. Envy was a big one for me. There would be nights where Lane and I would both be sitting on the couch, watching stories when we should have just been talking to one another, and our moods would suddenly switch. We’d see our friends on the screen, hanging out and laughing with one another. We’d witness hang-outs we never got invited to. Suddenly our nights became the sagas of Why is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
More feelings came up. Deeper feelings of bitterness or sadness. Insecurities. It’s crazy how social media turn us on or off in this way. One minute we are golden and the next we are in a pit of despair because of something that happened on a screen. You start to ask yourself questions: What is wrong with me? Do they not like us? You question the things you post online: Am I being inclusive? Am I only posting this to let people know I am doing it? Am I purposefully hoping this story will leave someone else feeling left out?
It’s a nasty cycle. More and more, we are beginning to have honest conversations about social media and how it is transforming our lives. We are reciting the statistics back and forth to one another. There has been a rise in anxiety and depression in the last few years, thanks to social media.
My friends and I were talking about this other day while we grabbed a coffee. My friend Liz said something that I believe is crucial: we are in control. No one is forcing us to consume social media. It’s on us if we are allowing the snapshots of other people’s lives to make us insecure, bitter, resentful or jealous. At the end of the day, we are responsible for how much we consume and if we keep consuming it after it makes us feel nasty inside.
So a few months ago, I started taking my life back. Little by little. Piece by piece. It began with Instagram stories.
And let me tell you, something in me shifted. Something changed and it was beautiful.




150 thoughts on “When media stops being social. Pt. I

  1. To be continued?! 🙂 Can’t wait to read the next part! I agree with you. those instagram stories really draw me in..but sometimes feelings surface of not being good enough or not being invited to whichever event is happening. Some of the stories though make me feel less alone! I love glimpses into people’s personal lives that otherwise I wouldn’t know about when we passed each other at church saying “hi, how are you?” and responding with “great! and you?” So it’s an interesting thing – those instagram stories.

  2. Can’t wait to hear more! I have felt such similar feelings. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    On Tue, Aug 1, 2017 at 11:06 AM, HANNAH BRENCHER wrote:

    > hb. posted: ” When Instagram stories first popped up on my radar, I > thought to myself: I am not getting involved with this. This is just > another form of media that will suck away my time and attention span. I am > going to resist. . I resisted for about two months be” >

  3. Hannah, thank you for sharing your insight. I look forward to reading further. I agree with you… when did social media stop being fun for me and become “work”. Too many hours spent staring at a screen when I could be interacting with my husband, family, friends or doing something good for someone else. Praying.

      1. hb. , thats the truth. The amount of follower you have don’t count. It is not real, because we cannot truly connect with these followers. Social media distract you from the people closest to you and make you focus on people far away from you. That’s where the pressure comes in…how do you focus on people you can’t see? Let’s take back our lives. Love and relate with people who are closest to you more.

  4. Oh my gosh this is my life right now. And I HATE it. I’ve started asking myself, “Is this giving me life right now?” And that is slowly starting to change how I consume social media. Thanks so much for sharing, Hannah. I can’t wait for part 2!

  5. Oh my goodness, I am excited for this series. I have gone through seasons of quitting social media and did actually from mid june- mid july and it was soooo lifegiving. I have thought about quitting completely but I do sometimes enjoy the lovely photos and inspiration but I know when I am watching stories that I am avoiding something in my life. Work, a relationship, or just sitting with the thoughts that come up in the noise free space. AHHH we need to talk about this.

    I have cut down to following about 55 people now instead of like 500. (Isn’t it weird that seeing what is going on in 55 peoples lives is seen as a little?) I have tried to just check it twice a week but have found it sneaking back into my life. And you know what? In that month of no social media I did not miss it one bit and the world didn’t need me to watch it or add more noise….

    Ahh.. I do enjoy some of it but we need boundaries.

    I live by myself and so it often seems harder to stop it because I don’t have people needing my attention.

  6. So true. I don’t use social media very much at all now outside of my work. Life is more fun when I don’t view it in curated snippets.

  7. Wow Hannah! Why is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Hit me like a ton of bricks. You are so right. Then it got me to thinking about when I do hang out. I find that the people who are on Instagram and FB are really not engaged at all. So do I really want to hang out with people who are not engaging socially with me? The answer is no. Frankly I find those types to be superficial and boring and down right rude. I want to say to them “all your friends are here – why are you on your phone, FB, etc.?”

    1. So true. Facebook people come out of hiding for specific reasons like: engagement, new baby, divorce, trouble, death, sickness. However, they lurk, but never engage unless its a specific reason. Good response.

  8. Totally agree with this. Deleted my Facebook account a few years ago because of the whole feeling of missing out; always thought I’d miss it but I never did. In fact one of the worst things about starting a blog up for me is having to engage with social media again to publicise.

  9. I’ve been going around and around as I delete social media then re-download and so on. I wish I could cut it all out of my life… There are many cons to it but there are also positives that are hard to get away from (staying in touch with friends across the world, etc.) Your words are wonderful and I hope we can both work toward that happy balance.

  10. Wow what an incredible post! I too notice myself picking up on these things. I actually choose my blog name based on this?!! I feel social media is definitely more of a hindrance than a help to young people. xx

  11. Thank you so much for writing about this. It’s something I deal with on a regular basis. I love that we are starting to slowly talk about this but so much more needs to be done. We need to keep talking about it. When I stay away from social media for hours on end, there is a definite shift.

  12. I’ve been blogging for a lot of years. I’ve seen friends I’ve made in the blogging world leave social media. I miss them, and sometimes I’ll send them a private message to see how they are. But I get it. Still…I’d miss that side of my life if I gave it totally up.

  13. Too true – reality seldom improves with packaging. It’s like social media over-processes reality until it is something that is like junk food – addictive, intense, an augmented form of something satisfying that ends up taking more away than it gives.

    Nicely said – looking forward to the next!

  14. I generally find I don’t feel that way- but I think it is because of my specific situation. I live very far away from all of my friends who post on social media, so I don’t expect to be invited. For me it’s more exciting, and yes joyful, because I get to see what they’re up to, how their children are growing, even the mundane things like what their homes look like now or where they go to eat. Sometimes they go somewhere I remember, and it also brings me pleasant nostalgia (or the feeling that I am glad I moved away!) Perhaps part of it is being older (39). On Instagram specifically, I don’t really follow friends, I only follow artists and their posts do inspire me. I love seeing how other artists practice their crafts and live their lives. Sometimes it gives me ideas to try myself, other times I just like to see how different we all are.
    YES you are in control. If it isn’t working, turn it off or change how you use it, that’s my advice. And of course the old adage, always correct “comparison is the thief of joy”.

  15. Well put. Facebook is more like Fakebook. I think it’d be a refreshing change if we couldn’t say anything about ourselves, just our “friends.” Speaking of that, I think I’ll find someone to compliment, … but right now I need to show off this curtain rod I successfully hung.

  16. Social media seems to be more about other peoples lives than your own. Personally, I rarely post on social media. I just don’t feel the need to tell everyone where I am, what I’m eating, why I’m there. I’d much rather spend my time with the people I am with and give them my full attention without having to remember every little detail to post later.
    It’s a shame this social media thing cannot be used for something more constructive than social envy.
    I do post on WordPress occasionally and that content is usually constructed from life experiences. And the occasional rant! 🙂 Good post.

  17. Spot on! I feel seen reading this. I’ve been inching away from social media for a while now and it’s heartening to feel there’s a movement towards living with more presence and less paralyzing envy. Bravo Hannah.

  18. I agree totally, some friends of ours are forever sharing stuff on Facebook which we had no knowledge of. It makes us feel awkward but then I think we are just being paranoid because of it.

  19. Hmm…nicely written. I agree- a lot of people take what they see on the social media, way too seriously. Along the line, some begin to believe the “perfect” image everyone else is trying to project online- which ‘re mostly fake.

  20. So true! I still haven’t had the guts to delete any of the apps from my phone but I moved all of my social media apps into a folder on my phone that I’m allowed to open a few times a day. It’s very difficult and frustrating because like you said, no one is forcing us! Anyways I’m eager to hear more

  21. This is one of the best posts I have read in a long time. I really can relate, social media has affected my life in the same way. I can’t recall a single time when I logged out of Facebook or Instagram without feeling a little bit empty. Recently, I have realized that a private life is a very happy one and so I am trying to give myself space by staying away from those networks.
    You’ve tackled the subject beautifully, and id like to share it.

  22. Undoubtedly social media more than a connection is an addiction n once u dive into it, u don’t have any way out. Control over self becomes beyond ur reach. Unfortunately instead of smiling v tend to be envious of many things. Beware! Beware! Excess of anything brings unhappiness!!

  23. that’s really true. I feel it myself and I just feel like “why everybody have beautiful life?” even though I knew maybe they just posted stories when they have their good days, but still, looking at it in different person’s stories would make us like “why I don’t have that kind of lifestyles everyday?” and feel envious. But in reality if we don’t really pay attention to their stories, maybe our life would be just fine..

  24. Wow 😱😱 your blog is amazing. I loved the way how honestly you describe the way social media is changing us. Even I go through the same feelings of jealousies and envy , when scrolling through media. And I hate that. I can’t wait to read the 2nd part of your story. Please post it ASAP.

  25. I have an Instagram that has a link to my blog. That’s pretty much it. Have no idea how it works, nor do I care. It was a suggestion from my niece because I don’t do Facebook. I’ve better things to do. Great post.

  26. I found this article in order to learn english. But when i read the title, i know that it is interesting and that’s true! Well, i like your article, for real! The writing is easy to understood. I agree that instagram story is sometime wasting time, like, somehow every hour i always refresh instagram just to check if there is a new story or not. Whereas, i did not even see the stories scrupulously. if you dont mind, i want to share this link 🙂 have a great day!

  27. Liked these lines ..No one is forcing us to consume social media. It’s on us if we are allowing the snapshots of other people’s lives to make us insecure, bitter, resentful or jealous. At the end of the day, we are responsible for how much we consume and if we keep consuming it after it makes us feel nasty inside.
    As you rightly articulated it’s all up to us , what we allow to hit us.. waiting for the next update ..
    Waiting for

  28. Lovely article – people are starting to see sense. I truly believe that social media will eventually implode & we will return to a more civilised & select way of communicating. If people worked out the true amount of time lost spent either looking into what are just highly edited & selected snippets of peoples lives, or posting highly edited & selected snippets of their owns lives in hope of approval & “likes” then converted it into the proportionate level of anxiety, envy & insecurity it created, they might rethink. I’m proud to stand up and say I don’t use Facebook etc – I’m too busy getting on with my life!

  29. I completely agree, Hannah! For me, though, it is FaceBook. And the problem it causes in me is this insistent need to compare myself with everyone around me. “I’m not married. What is wrong with me?!” “You are on kid #2 – great!” “My life achievements are… well…let’s see.” I always hear that everyone marches to the beat of their own drummer. But my normal doesn’t seem to be the same as everyone else’s. Guess I just got to be okay with that.

  30. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I’ve been feeling that way with social media, especially twitter. I was finding people (other authors) who were reaching goals and making progress and I got into the mindset “why not me?” And I started feeling like I wasn’t enough, would never be enough, etc. So last week I went off twitter and instagram. A couple of months ago I went off facebook.

    So far, it’s been good. I started a blog and wrote what I wanted, not what I thought everyone wanted to read. In the past week I’ve been…happier and more energetic.

    I can’t wait to read more of what you think on this subject.

  31. It’s the instinct that fuels us to such a life. Followers, Likes, Comments they just make us feel wanted and great. Let’s not deny it. We are getting the attentions of the unknown when our own circle was failing to notice us. It’s not that they were failing to notice us, it was just that they knew who you were, they don’t need to comment and like to make it known to you that you were appreciated or remembered. While we understood otherwise. I post on Insta during the start of the day only to check it at the end of the day. I post on my wordpress to only check the view, likes, follows occasionally as I post it for myself to express my thoughts and emotions of that moment. I spend about 30 mins to 1 hour on word press searching up blogs to read and comment after which is strictly a no, no. It’s all about us and what we want. A great blog did you post.

  32. I think the whole social media world would agree with you!! I loved this and the way you explained how it seems to start to rule our lives. It reminds me of a Black Mirror episode I watched recently. If you haven’t watched Black Mirror on Netflix, I suggest you watch Season 3 Episode 1 called ‘Nosedive’ it really reflects what we have just read. Each episode is different with different characters – trust me this one has a vicious take on social media!

    Cant wait for Part 2…Thank-you!

  33. I am so eager to read the rest of your story. I don’t have any social media accounts, except for my blogging. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

  34. This is such a true and honest view into social media content creation. And I believe that what we share on social media is nothing more than carefully curated bits and pieces of our lives. Life isn’t as glamorous as Instagram makes it look out to be… So thanks for being honest about it!
    If you’re interested, I am actually writing my master thesis about effects of social media. And as you said for yourself, envy is the biggest reason I found for social media engagement! I have a summary of my study on my blog (like 5-6 posts back). Only if you’re interested of course 🙂

  35. It’s so amazing how much I can relate to your story. I had something of the similar sort, which is surprisingly the opposite but all the same consuming. It just shows how important it is to finally be aware of these things. I can’t wait to read the next part.

  36. Thank you Hannah 🙂
    We are wasting time with something. If we make little difference on social media, something can be better in our lives. I agree you..

  37. You hit it perfectly! Here I am, a 55 year old woman who once thought social media “belonged to the kids,” and I now on it and can completely identify with what you are saying! Bravo. I cannot wait to read more of what you have written.

  38. I agree with this on so many levels! As someone who sees the negative side of social media myself, in what can sometimes feel like it’s just me in a world of constant consumers, knowing that there are other people who feel the same way as I means a lot. Such a brilliantly written post, I look forward to hear more from you.
    Best Wishes

  39. Well, you spoke to detail about one plague eating up the masses in this generation of ours; which we don’t even know about. Thanks to sharing. I hope people will gain wisdom from your expirence. 👍

  40. I am really looking forward to your next installment of this topic. I am following social media and it’s impact on our lives – anxiety, depression, and as you said,,,,envy. That has been me lately – I’ve been sucked in by IG and being very jealous of the lives that some people are living while I sit in my fluorescent lit cubicle dreaming of being on a beach or hiking through the Rockies. It really is craziness. Looking forward to following along.

  41. This is the primary reason I quit Facebook and Instagram. It’s cool to see I’m not the only one who gets jealous over an Internet world that isn’t necessarily real.

  42. This is so true,I have been married for over 3yrs now and my husband and I are trying to have a baby, I feel so bad when I see my friends on Facebook posting pictures of their little ones. I am happy for them but feel sad for myself.It just hurts.I think social media highlights your fears and insecurities. It makes you forget to be grateful for the blessings in your life and the things that really count.Let’s make time for the things that really count.

  43. I love this. I love your honesty and found myself feeling exactly the same about 2 months ago. So I cut back. I resisted and I decided to try to keep my insta purely business. It doesn’t always work…but I’m trying

  44. Loved this post. I spend so much of my day looking through the ‘perfect lives’ of other people and it can be exciting and soul destroying all on one. Great thought provoking read. Can’t wait to read more

  45. Yeah totally..you brought it on paper so well. After joining these blogs for the first time there were so many times I just felt down..I couldn’t pin down the cause of it at that point of time but something was wrong… those feeling of envy I felt towards friends… friends of friends and sometimes just random strangers..thank you so much for this post. That line about people hanging without us.. god!! So true. Brilliantly written.

  46. It’s a really interesting post. We get so caught up in social media, not really questioning it, it just kind of becomes this habit, this post makes us stop and think, good job!

  47. Great story, as with everyone, this is very relatable. I stopped using all social media about 3 years ago, it was very liberating. These days I feel like it caused an addiction due to the fact that I now spend my time reading the comments on most of these stories. Good read, thanks for sharing.

  48. Amazing post! This really resonated with me and made me realise that I behave in the same way that you’ve described; allowing myself to be consumed with the lives of others and comparing their lives with my own. Thanks for making me stop and reflect on WHY I almost obsessively record my daily activities, and consume those of others, and inspiring me to work towards being more conscious of my social media usage 🙂

  49. Social media seems like this grand idea until we realize it’s draining us and taking us away from actually enjoying our lives. We focus so much on looking like we’re doing something, less on actually doing it. And so much time seeing what everyone else is up to. I spend so much time just watching Snapchat stories and looking through Facebook and Instagram feeds. And you’re right, it doesn’t make you feel happy. Mostly it makes you feel alone.

    And there are many times I’ll be out with friends and we’re all glued to our screens. I kind of hate it. But you’re right, we’re the ones in control of how much we view, so maybe it’s time to focus less on what everyone else is doing, and focus more on what’s in front of you. Off screen

  50. It is very liberating. And I have always felt that if you are not a pornstar I do not need to see your snap stories and even if you are a porn star there is nothing on insta story that is gonna enlighten me. Glad I am glad I am not sucked in that blackhole yet. I wish you and your husband all the luck!

  51. I spend a lot of time on social media. Probably too much. I try not to let other people’s posts make me jealous, bitter, etc. I do a pretty good job of it most of the time, but I could probably improve my life by staying away from it more.

  52. It seems like we’ve reached a crossroads with social media. I mean, like a really big crossroads. I’ve noticed more and more people starting to feel this way towards Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media accounts. It seems we as human beings have begun to recognize how little time we actually put into our lives and into the lives of our loved ones. I am incredibly thankful to you for posting this up, because it means that more people will begin to understand how much of our precious time we could save for more important matters. I completely understand both sides, but I do agree more with the side of having a bit more personal freedom when it comes to having a presence on any social media platform. Definitely will be looking forward to your “Part 2” for this article! Great work Hannah 🙂

  53. I actually never really got into Instagram stories that much. (I’ve also never had a snapchat). I do post stories occasionally, but it’s only every once in a while.

  54. I feel like you have read everyone’s mind Hannah, in questioning the affects that social media has on our lives now. If you were to look at social media in the context to the human race timeline, then we are very much so in the trial/guinea pig stage. I’m interested to see what happens in 10 or 20 years time. Will people have a more work, life and cyber life balance? Or will we all just become more obsessed? You asked a great question at the end about whether we are in control. I want to say yes, of course we are; but I feel like the need to share on social media is becoming an addictive pandemic for my generation. I see some of it’s effects in my friends quite a bit, as well as in myself sometimes.

  55. You’re so right! Social media is so addictive, it ironically makes you ‘unsocial’! I need to cut down on the time I spend watching insta stories too.. Thanks for this eye-opening post. Looking forward to your next! ☺️
    Also, I’d love if you check my blog: rituailani.wordpress.com

  56. Now that was a good post! Can’t wait to read the next one. Nowadays everyobes life has come to revolving around their instagram and whatsapp stories. It has come to an extent that people do things , just to post as a story on instagram or some other similiar social platform

  57. I made a rule in our house – all devices can ONLY be used in the home office. If I want to look up a word- I use the dictionary like we used to. If I want a recipe- go to my cook book, if I am wanting to remember something- as my subconscious to dig it up for me- not google. My imagination has returned, my social skills have returned and my memories are better than ever. It’s helped me. Congrats on your brace step. It will reopen your world.

  58. Brilliantly observed. Instagram et al are so gorgeous to look at and provide a drip-feed of dopamine to our brains as people notice us, but I have a theory that they make mindfulness nearly impossible and mindfulness is so good for anxiety and depression, restlessness and dissatisfaction which so many of us suffer from. My recipe for social media? Little and not often, rather like Coca Cola or cream cakes, Martinis or Nutella. Be kind to yourself as if you were your own wise parent …

  59. Yeah, like all other things in this world it has both good and bad sides. It depends on us what we wanna take in. Need to put a filter. Liked the truthfulness of Ur writing. Nice one.

  60. I could not agree more. Thank you so much for writing about this because I think some people are ashamed to admit that social really ends up draining them rather than bringing joy. Thanks for being real!

  61. Can’t wait to read PT.2 this is so good Hannah. Instagram stories has my heart 🙈 I def was one of those that said I wasn’t going to do it….hélas, here I am!

  62. Yes, we all have the power to choose what we do with the time we have. We need to take a moment and think about our priorities and then spend time according to them. Planning our priorities should be the first thing we do in the morning. Before opening the computer, the tv or the radio. Have a great day!

  63. I feel the same way. Everyone shares the best versions of themselves on social media. It can lead one to feel a lack of fulfillment if they aren’t living up to the same arbitrary standards. I’m taking a break from most social media as well. I hope I have the same freeing experience you had. Because being jealous of my friends makes me feel petty. Great post.

  64. Oh my goodness, I feel the same way!! Almost every time I look on social media, it almost always makes me feel crappy about my life. I always wonder why I can’t be that happy or why I can’t be doing cool things like this person or have their life etc. I try to separate myself from social media because I feel like it makes life happier and I can’t stand that everyone is always looking down and not appreciating their surroundings or when you’re excited to see a friend and they are always on their phone. Anyway yes great blog, I look forward to reading more of your stuff!!

  65. I couldn’t agree more… Social media involvement usually starts with really genuine intentions meaning getting closer to people who care but when we least expect it we’re trapped in the time – consuming habit where it all takes a painful toll in our deer ones…

  66. I LOVE this so much, so true!! Quite often I find myself putting up snapchat stories just to show that I’m out doing things and then getting upset when I see my friends are out without me…but at the same time we’re in such a social media driven society that it’s incredibly difficult to walk away from it all and delete everything

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