24th September 2019

Oh Instagram – you’re my favourite waste of time

Social media is addictive, and can be toxic, but is also an accessible platform for artists to share their work – writer Aisha Al-Janabi shares a few of her favourites
Oh Instagram – you’re my favourite waste of time
Self Deprecation Police photo courtesy of @thumbpaint from Instagram

Facebook was started in 2004, and Instagram in 2010, meaning that social media has been present for the more memorable part of my life.

The way we waste time, or fill time, has changed along with technology. Back in the ‘good old days’ picking up a book or doing embroidery for hours were casual pastimes – now they’re often seen as more beneficial than other hobbies. Then TV and films became more accessible and spending evenings watching TV shows was how many would spend their down-time. These days, social media is many people’s favourite way to whittle away their free hours.

I agree and admit that social media can be toxic, but I don’t mind the time-wasting nature of it. I find current expectations to constantly be busy and productive exhausting and I enjoy a guilt-free scroll through my tailored newsfeed of adorable guinea pigs like @fuzzberta, which makes me effortlessly happier.

Social media platforms are designed to be addictive, with the validation of likes on recent posts and the ability to scroll endlessly ensuring that we keep coming back. I can’t see myself giving it up any time soon, partly because I like seeing what my friends are up to whilst we’re on opposite ends of the country, but also because I am hooked, especially to Instagram.

The visual nature of Instagram means it has become a platform for independent artists to share their work, so it’s accessible for both creators and audiences. My newsfeed has slowly become a personal art gallery that I carry around in my pocket, developing and changing as I do, and is a joyful break from reality when I need it.

Whilst social media can fuel the feeling of inadequacy and our insecurities, I’ve begun to follow accounts with feel-good content of vibrant illustrations and messages.

I follow @littlearthling with illustrations and gentle reminders like “it is okay to be proud of yourself”, that will make you feel less isolated. And @janellesilver, whose art comforts me when I’m feeling insecure or anxious, validating my own feelings and letting me acknowledge them. Or @doot_doodles with humorous and calming illustrations that will put a smile on my face.

Then there is the world of cartoonists, those who create little stories that are a great distraction from this big fast-paced world we live in. One that warms my heart is called @thumbpaint which follows little thumb-painted characters on small and endearing adventures.

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Your third emoji is your reaction 😫

A post shared by wham bam (@thumbpaint) on

Instagram can be used as a little sanctuary full of beautiful images, some of which also act as a gentle reminder for me when things don’t feel quite right. I’m sure we’ve all experienced anxious periods and overthink certain things, so sometimes it is lovely to ‘waste’ time (I’m not suggesting you spend hours on social media) and scroll through your own gallery, with messages you want to hear.

Social media is probably going to stick around, so we may as well support artists instead of accounts that make us feel inadequate and disheartened, and in the process create a place that can temporarily cheer us up with a quick scroll whilst waiting for a bus.



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The first drawing represents how life felt before really committing to healing & starting hypnotherapy. My comfort zone was my controlled zone, where I felt I had the most control & where I felt the most safe. My comfort/controlled zone had been slowly shrinking in size with each passing day & it was becoming harder to function in the ways I needed & wanted. It was also getting more exhausting & taking a big physical toll on my body and I knew if nothing changed it would start breaking down. I still had some joy, peace, freedom, love & fun but it was fleeting, it was occasional & still relied on my controlled zone, I still needed external things to be a certain way to be able to experience them. The fire, the fear, anxiety, trauma, panic, danger, all that had become my normal, my constant, my truth, my life & the other stuff was like the weather, occasionally the right conditions would happen & some joy would float through, some happiness & fun & then it would pass & life would resume as “normal”. All the planning, controlling, coping mechanisms, self medicating etc would also resume so I could get through & manage it as best I could. Since starting hypnotherapy things have flipped, what once was like the weather has become my everyday reality & the anxiety, sadness, fear, depression, panic etc is the weather that comes & goes. Don’t get me wrong, some days the sky is filled with clouds & things start feeling scary & dangerous but there’s always a part of me that remembers I’m in the garden, that the garden is my reality & everything else will pass. Part of me remembers to take deep breaths, to meditate or journal, part of me remembers to self soothe, to move my body, to ask for help, to remind myself I’m safe, to trust & have faith. Part of me remembers I was strong enough to live in & make the best of the fire for 15+ years, so I’m brave enough to deal with any storm that may come through the garden. How is life feeling for you, sweet soul? There’s no right or wrong, there’s value in every experience but it’s your life, so remember you’re allowed to change, edit, renovate, reprogram as you need & want. You’re worthy of the life you’d love! 💖🌿🦕🦄🌈🔮🍄💜

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