Social Media, Jealousy and My Personal Rules for Instagram

Sammi Harvey

I’ve never been one to wrestle with a lot of jealousy. 

I understand that sounds like a pretty naive thing to say, but it’s true.

I never had boyfriends cheat on me. I always prefer staying home than being invited to a big party. There’s not much on earth that I truly need that I can’t provide for myself. I usually feel confident with my appearance. 

This past year that changed for me though.

Or for awhile, at least.

In 2015, I was following over 500 people & brands on Instagram; most being people and brands I didn’t know personally. Whenever I’d pop into Instagram, I would scroll endlessly through a feed of perfectly designed and curated photographs of what seemed like other peoples’ normal day-to-day lives.

Photo Credit: Joe St.Pierre, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Joe St.Pierre, Creative Commons

And subconsciously with every photo, I found myself comparing my life to what was seen in the image. 

  • Is my house that beautiful?
  • Do I have a bag that nice?
  • Will I ever be able to draw like that?
  • Cook like that?
  • Look like that?
  • Live like that?

I made my lifestyle a comparison game with people I had never met and things I didn’t have. What once was a place where I sought inspiration became a soul-sucking hole of discouraging “you’re not enough’s”. 

It took me nearly a year to reach my breaking point and figure out why I was so hard on myself about what my life “looked” like. 

It was then I realized I had to make a change.

I knew I needed more than just a break from Instagram. I had done that before and I found myself, time and time again, in the same spot.

And I didn’t want to delete Instagram, either.

There are so many things I love about the medium. I have used it as a photo journal of sorts for the last few years and have been inspired by so many visual artists I have discovered through it. Not to mention, I now have genuine friends all over the US that I have met through it.

Deleting it entirely just wouldn’t feel right.

My final solution?

To unfollow:

1. Any person I didn’t know

2. Anyone who made me feel worse about myself

3. Any brand who made me want to buy something I didn’t need or made me feel inadequate with what I already have.

It took me hours but I made it through. Following the rules that I made, I had to unfollow a lot of brands that inspired me and a lot of friends whom I love (but whose posts drove me crazy). I even felt guilty about many of the unfollows—like I owed it to some people to stick around.

Like they had “won” me as a follower and now I was obliged to subscribe to their posts for life? What?

There are so many results have positively affected my mental, emotional, and spiritual health after unfollowing those 200+ accounts.

I don’t feel guilty unfollowing people anymore.

I am confident it’s my responsibility to be monitoring what I allow into my mind and to choose to be content.

I’ve suddenly found it unnecessary to have incredibly gorgeous handwriting and a latte every morning. I have discovered I even like those friends who previously drove me crazy online. I’ve found contentment in our tiny apartment and hardly ever feel the need to buy more stuff.

These days, I quickly run out of new content to look at while scrolling through Instagram. Because of this, I’ve ended up spending way less time on my phone—and I am loving it. This change of pace has felt so incredibly refreshing and healthy to this young millennial.

It’s so freeing to have moments when I can remember I’m not missing something when my phone is off or away. It’s so healing to trust that I have the right to love my life right now, right where I’m at. Just the way it looks.

Sammi Harvey

Sammi Harvey

Sammi Harvey is a newly married 23-year-old living in Nashville, TN. An alumna of Team Storyline, she is pursuing the freelance life alongside her husband, a traveling photographer. Sammi writes about the ups and downs of following dreams, being a consumer and creator on the internet, and practicing self-care. You can follow her on both Twitter and Instagram.

  • camorose

    Love this piece! My rule on Facebook is to only stay friends with people who I’d be excited to say hello to if I ran into them on the street, and I think I might have to adopt your rules for Instagram 🙂

  • I love this Sammi! There’s something I like to call the “comparison complex” that (especially women) have in which we think that everyone else really seems to have their lives together. Women have a hard time sharing the struggles we have. We don’t want to come across as a failure. We don’t want to fail others, or ourselves.

    • Melissa Guzman Webster

      I just stumbled on this post and look who I find at the top of the comments list! Hey! 🙂 Great comment. So very true. Hope you are well my friend!

  • Just did the same thing recently.

  • JuniperSky

    This is exactly what I did with Facebook. What a relief not being tied to a newsfeed I can’t even relate to!

  • Julie Saint-Mleux

    (Happiness SavouredHot) Amen to that. I use social media to read the news, share ideas (insipiring articles and such), and communicate with some friends and family. I only follow people and entities that I truly find interesting and inspiring. Good article!

  • +1 for this. I regularly cull my social media feeds to ensure that they adding to my life and not taking out