Why I Left Instagram

A huge thank you to Francesca and Alisa for sending me this post after I managed to corrupt my entire database and the backup didn’t have my latest one saved!

I’m feeling so disillusioned with Instagram and social media in general at the moment. I’ve had an Instagram account since 2014, but I have never really used it a huge amount. I closed it off today for the following reasons:

1. Instagram is now owned by Facebook

Posts don’t appear in chronological order any longer. Facebook uses their “magical algorithm” to sort pictures in order of what you (supposedly) find important/interesting. This is probably the same algorithm they use on Facebook that meant I missed two pregnancy announcements and a mum I know going into hospital for breast surgery. Yeah, nice one, thanks Facebook! I have no control over whether they even show pictures to me from the friends I follow. This seems crazy to me.

2. Instagram is the worst place for comparison

If there is something that you like to do, there is someone out there doing it much better than you on Instagram. Whether it’s drawing, photography or fitness, instagram has hundreds of people creating stunning photos in your subject area that will make you feel like what you are doing is not worth it because it cannot compare. I don’t think this is healthy for creativity. Following experts can definitely be inspirational and motivating, but on instagram there are so many people to follow that it can begin to feel like there’s no point in even starting. Sometimes you need to just create, rather than consume. Sometimes you need to find your place in the world before you start checking out what everyone else is doing.

3. And again, there’s always comparison

Facebook is also guilty of this (and Facebook is something I plan to extricate myself from), but it can be quite demoralising when you’re having a shitty day and all you see from your friends are amazing holiday pictures, wonderful family meet-ups, and perfect family walks. Inevitably you are seeing other people’s highlight reel and comparing that to your ordinary day at home/work. Not fun. I love to see what my friends are up to, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it can seem that everyone is out doing something exciting apart from me, and as a mum of three I have enough guilt in my life without piling more on because I didn’t get my kids out in the rain or do an afternoon of inventive and original art and crafts.

4. You can’t keep Instagram and Facebook separate

This ties in with number one, but it is now impossible to have an Instagram account without all your facebook friends knowing about it. Maybe you want to document your weight loss journey and connect with like-minded people. Maybe you are gay and want to connect with others who haven’t come out yet. Well forget about using Instagram to build a separate virtual support network because Facebook sends everyone you know a notification that you are on Instagram as your-username. Even if you do not link to Facebook, it still knows. The apps seem to share data on your phone, so just having both installed gives you away. It’s creepy, but if you google it you will find the desperate measures people have gone to to have a secret account, to the point of having a separate phone and sim so they are not connected. Instagram and Facebook may as well be the same platform if they are going to operate this way.

5. It wastes time

Recently I have found myself indulging in social media far more often than I should be. I find that I just keep scrolling and scrolling and I’m not even really sure why I’m doing it. How much time, I wonder, does it really consume in our day and in our heads? What else could we be doing with that time and that mental capacity? Paying more attention to our kids, reading a book, or maybe even writing a book!

6. I quite like photography

I have a wonderful camera and I love to take photos. With Instagram it’s easy to snap a photo with an old iPhone, crop it, apply some filters and come up with something lovely. That’s great! But for me, I’d rather be taking photos and learning more about how to make images look pretty with my camera. I think using Instagram to make nice photos is all well and good, but it makes me lazy, when I could be developing my creativity in other ways.

7. Sponsored posts

So. Many. Adverts.

Annoying!

8. Am I providing anything of value?

This is probably my biggest reason at the moment. When I think about why I post pictures to Instagram, what is the answer? By adding my pictures to Instagram am I providing anything of any value to anyone else? My relatives don’t use it, so they can’t keep up with pictures of the kids. And as time goes on I’ve been more concerned about the fact that my children are growing up in a generation where everyone’s lives have been shared online since birth. Do I want that for my kids? But if I don’t post family pictures, why am I posting? To let people know what I’m doing? To showcase my skills? It isn’t really either of these. I suppose if I’m truly honest with myself it’s because I feel I need to join in the noise of sharing things. I’m doing it because everyone else is. That’s not what I want to be doing anything for.

I said goodbye to my Instagram accounts today, permanently deleted them, and deleted the app off my phone. I also deleted snapchat. It’s one less distraction in a life full of distractions that I am working to minimise, and it feels good to have made the decision to stay away. I feel lighter for it, even though there are some people I only keep up with through Instagram. Spreading my attention around so many different platforms doesn’t help me stay focused on my goals.

I want my focus to be mainly on blogging here, as a way of sharing. It’s always been my favourite way to share online and through blogging I have met some wonderful people. I find it more personal, more genuine, and my blog is totally under my control and doesn’t use some crazy algorithm to only show you the most “relevant” posts. I’ve blogged on and off for years, and I think I’d rather do this than use any other platform, so this is where you’ll find me 🙂

Filing Cabinet Clear Out

A little while back I cleared out the conservatory. I should have taken a before picture, but I didn’t think about it (I just got stuck-in on a whim one afternoon). Here’s some after pics, bearing in mind I have three lovely children, so nothing is ever spotless:

minimalist conservatory

I cleared out loads of boardgames that the children weren’t using and Steve took the bench that ran along one side that held all the games and toys. All the board games we use are now packed in the left hand cupboard of the cabinet and all the little pieces have been rescued from the floor, under the sofa and around the house.

I also convinced Steve to take a floor lamp and the TV that I won rather than buy a new one (we’re now a single TV household again which makes me happier anyway), so that cleared off the cabinet top too. The rest of the stuff just didn’t have an assigned home, so I either got rid of it or found a place for the things I wanted to keep. It looks much better and the children really like playing on the floor space in here.

minimalist conservatory

Just for fun, here’s a couple of pictures of how the conservatory used to look in the earlier days of my minimalist journey. The first one was when I had a 2 year old and baby:

messy house
The horror!

This one was when both boys were toddlers. Oh man:

messy house with kids
More horror!

Filing

Anyway, moving on from my trip down memory lane, and getting to the point of the post:

Behind the French door on the left as you go in is a large, four drawer filing cabinet, known as The Bisley. You can see it through the glass on the second picture down. Everything goes in The Bisley. All household paperwork, kids artwork, research, documentation, manuals, printer paper, envelopes, folders, the lot. I have a plan, at some point in the future to go completely paperless, but that’s still a way off.

However, The Bisley was in need of a clear-out, so this morning I ruthlessly went through my papers. Three of the drawers I had already tackled because they contained stationary-type things and kids artwork that I am in the process of scanning/photographing for our family photo books.

The final drawer is filed in alphabetical order and contains everything about everything about the house, finances, insurance, pensions, medical records, and everything else.

home filing system

I went through every single folder and I think I managed to recycle about 30% of it. I also tied up a couple of loose ends that were knocking around for household bills, banking and pension forms (I’ve been consolidating all my accounts down to one main one – this is a still a work in progress).

I’ve got a couple of outstanding things I’ve added to my master to-do list, but now the conservatory is officially TIDY – Marie Kondo tidy (well, apart from the fact that she throws all paperwork away, but ANYWAY).

recycling paperwork

home filing system

And it feels great!

I absolutely love a neat and tidy space. It makes that area feel so light and airy and pleasant to be in. Not to mention that paperwork is one of my pet hates and to have it all dealt with and filed away makes me almost as happy as inbox zero :-).

5 February 2018

Last night was better. I woke at 00:30 and 01:30, restless, but F slept through aside from some mumbling and yawning at around 05:30.

I cleared out more stuff in the cupboard today. Most of the things I don’t use that I find hard to part with are sentimental. I had this old scrabble set in there. It used to belong to my parents and I’ve carted it around for decades. The box long ago disintegrated so I kept it in another box, along with the original box lid (missing the sides), because that had the official instructions printed on the back. The tiles were all in an ancient co-op plastic bag. There were four wooden tile stands.

We never play scrabble. But I always pass over this boxed up ancient game when I clear things out.

Today I took it down from the shelf and thought to myself,

I’ll put it in the loft.

However, once I was done with the shelves I was sorting out, and I’d cleared all the other things away, I hesitated. Why was I putting it in the loft? Was I ever likely to play it? What was the real reason I was keeping it?

I searched inside myself and looked for the honest answer. I was keeping it because I was sentimentally attached to it.

I opened out the box and knew deep down that there was no reason for me to keep it any longer. I lifted the ancient box lid out, with its coffee-coloured and stained inside that must have once been white, and I held it up to my face. It smelled like home.

That’s why I was keeping it.

The home that fell apart when I was in my early teens. It came from before then. From the days of security and fun and wonder and childhood. The delicate, dusty scent contained fragments from my old bedroom – long forgotten moisturisers and the dry rustle of childhood books. It reminded me of both my Mum and my Dad, and of our house where I grew up, sold when I was 16 as my parents divorced.

I sat there and cried and cried over a fucking 63 year old scrabble set (the date on the inside of the box was 1955). And I knew that what I felt was a longing for that feeling of home, of old things of my Dad’s and the distracted busy-ness of my Mum. And I also felt a great sorrow inside that my parents were not more affectionate towards me when I was a child. I found my comfort in the physical home I lived in, not the flesh of the people that brought me into the world. I knew the walls, the cupboards, every corner, intimately. It was my sanctuary. My parents loved me dearly, I do understand that now. But they were not good at showing it. They were distracted with their own problems, their own difficult lives, difficult upbringings.

As a child, when I was sad, I sobbed on my bed, not in their arms. When I played, I sat alone on the floor, not on their laps. When I was happy I smiled and watched the world outside my window, I didn’t share it with them. I was dismissed, too often. So my love of that scrabble set is a tender affection for the home I grew up in. It was a part of it that I brought with me when I left.

Buddha says that attachment will only bring dukkha (suffering), and suffering was exactly what I felt every time I looked at that old game. Emotional suffering.

I did the quirky Marie Kondo thing of thanking it for being a part of my life, and then I let it go.

And I knew I had done the right thing, because as long as we hang onto the past, we can never be fully present in the gift of life that we have today.

4 February 2018

Just when you think things are looking up, last night F woke at:

22:30
00:30
03:30
05:30

Crying rather than the howling screaming she usually does, but still horribly disruptive.

She was up for the day at 6:30am and both of us felt rotten. She was grisly and miserable. I was tired and depressed. She has a cold and last night it was a blocked-up nose that was stopping her sleeping well. I felt so down this morning, wondering when this cycle of illness and bad sleep is ever going to end. However, the husband took the kids out to see some planes at a war museum and I did a week’s worth of meal planning and an online shop order. Then I did two loads of washing and cleaned out the linen cupboard, setting aside a big bag of stuff to put in textile recycling.

There is nothing like a good sort out to lift my spirits. The more functional and essential my possessions, the happier I am. My love of minimalism is still strong and it’s something I’ve really neglected since F was born. I find modern life and all its trappings and choices so overwhelming. I crave simplicity and order, and it’s a hard thing to balance in today’s world, especially with young children.

Is it odd that paring down the bed linen to 2 or 3 matching sets per bed and folding all the towels in neat piles by size makes me so happy? I keep looking in the cupboard, just because it looks so lovely.

Tonight I’m in bed before 9pm and all the children are asleep (even L, which is unusual). Here’s hoping for a decent night.

Cupboard Sort Out – Before and After

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done a decent job in sorting, decluttering and tidying. The whole house is starting to feel a bit neglected, and messy.

This Sunday afternoon, with the school holidays just two weeks away (and more mess and chaos imminent), I decided to do a quick clear out of the left side of the upstairs cupboard. I realise that to some my cupboard will already look pretty tidy. It has been a long journey to get here and we are still downsizing and learning to live without so much excess. However, we have already let go of so much (and feel so much lighter for it), that it may look as though we have no need to sort through again.

What I will say though is:

a) things have a habit of accumulating when you are looking the other way,
b) it is good to regularly question the value of things you don’t touch from year to year, and
c) there is never really an ‘end’ to living a more minimalist lifestyle.

Needs and wants change with the seasons and years, and the ebb and flow of our possessions reflects this. But if it is all arrival and never departure then gradually your life becomes fossilised as layers and layers of stuff that (let’s be honest), are going to be someone else’s job to sort through when you die.

So, out of the cupboard today came:

  • Sony laptop box – to sell with the laptop as I have a desktop and really don’t need both.
  • Large baby floor blanket – donate
  • Spare cushion – replaced the old one downstairs
  • Picture that C painted when he was 4 that I love. I put it in the frame properly, not perfect (perfectionism is something I’m trying to overcome), but just got it done, then hung it on the wall. C loved having his picture put on display (and it was a 2 year-old job off the list).
C’s picture, kept in a frame to protect it for two years but never finished off. Until now!
  • Portraits of my mum, and several old relatives from my Dad’s side. Put up the ones of my mum, Emanuel (my great great grandfather), and Amelia (my great grandmother). Stored two others behind these in the frame.
Portraits in the cupboard. It’s unfinished projects like this that create mental clutter.
  • Baby carrier – to sell
  • 4 moses basket sheets – donate (Now,  some things are harder to say goodbye to than others. They brought back such memories… but, I’d rather they were used for a lovely new baby than being left in a cupboard gathering dust, so off they went after some sentimental brushing against my cheek).
  • Baby blanket, bought for us when I had my first son and used for all three but still in very good condition – donate
  • Two horrible, old, spare, white pillowcases – recycle
  • 4 out of 6 plastic-backed cot sheets. They are spares on top of the four normal ones in the event of serious vomiting episodes. Decided I only needed 2 – donate 4
  • 2 out of 4 spare cot sheets. Decided 2 was fine (I have four others I use regularly) – donate 2
  • 2 out of 4 moses basket blankets. Useful for cool nights and car trips – donate 2
  • 4 out of 10 muslin cloths. I donated around 40 of these last year, but have used only a couple on a couple of occasions since – donate 5, recycle 1 stained.
The pictures were framed and went up, with some slightly dodgy ladder-on-the-stairs DIY. The photo wall is coming along nicely. I’ve got some smaller frames to go in the central vertical gap, but that’s for another day.

Into the cupboard went:

  • The storage box for a fan we are currently using (crazy hot weather). Most of the year the fan goes in the box and the box goes in the loft.

And there we have it. Probably a couple of hours work in between doing everything with the children at home, but SO nice when finished. I then refolded the remaining linen, just because it looks nice ?

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