What Happened When I Stopped Taking Selfies

March 28, 2016

I calculated my selfies were taking around two to three hours a day.

If I stare at my picture long enough, all of my positive features begin to fade to the background while my imperfections zoom in and laugh at me. I love selfies but they mock me.

If I’m the one taking the photo I have to take between fifteen and twenty before finding a decent one, all while muttering, “No darling, that’s wrong, so wrong. Try a new angle. Don’t smile like that. Don’t grimace. Why is one of your eyes more open than the other? Don’t open your eyes so much, you look like a crazy person.”

I weaned myself off the selfies when I discovered I was spending an hour a day primping so I would look presentable if a selfie opportunity presented itself, even if I didn’t have to go anywhere. I would then spend ten minutes tinkering with filters and constantly check in to see the ‘likes’ rack up and what people online were saying about it.

It was an exhausting time vortex that drained my creativity and productivity. I calculated selfies, including the prep time, were taking around two to three hours a day and if I had spent that time writing, I could have the next great American novel written in less than a year. It was at that I decided to stop taking selfies for a month.


The first day I vowed to divorce myself from the selfie and marry my time to the moment (sans iPhone), I felt like I wasn’t really living. I thought to myself, “If I’m not capturing these average moments that I could make look so epic on camera, do I really exist? Does any of it matter?” I had to force-feed myself the ‘live in the moment’ cliché, because, well, I couldn’t take a picture of the moment.

As I wasn’t going on Instagram to make my contributions it meant I also wasn’t seeing other people’s ‘fabulous’ pseudo-lives. No images of the perfect latte on a rainy day, a child basking in the glow of his mother’s love as he lays in his homemade onesie, a perfect-haired lass leaping in an unknown forest, a green smoothie with a side of ‘I’m healthier than you’ — there was none of that. I was just left with my life.

At first, it was monotonous. I craved the highs and lows I surfed throughout the day as I felt envy over other’s selfies, smugness over another, unwarranted pride over my own and then a touch of confusion over what to do with myself when I put my phone down.

I also found that because I wasn’t seeking out ‘selfie-worthy’ moments, I had to carve out my own beautiful moments that were for my eyes only. I had to learn to live a lovely life for my own sake — and it wasn’t easy.

Because I used selfies as a substitution for journaling, I had to find another outlet to examine my day and, sometimes neurotic, moods. So I started to write a journal instead. I started walking. I started sitting outside without being critical and constantly looking for what would make a good photo. Giving up selfies made me seize my day and get creative in regards to how I would add texture to it when I wasn’t crafting it for Instagram and the examination of others.


My cold turkey month of no selfies rewired my brain to be content with my unfiltered self and left me with troves of fresh writing time. I stopped blow-drying my hair and trying to choose between the Hudson and Juno filters. I started living when I stopped taking selfies. I also stopped looking at other people’s selfies.

Nowadays, I still take the occasional one to document an especially brag-worthy moment but I’ve lobotomized the part of my brain which used to compulsively feel the need to click, crop, filter and post every time I was standing in front of a sunset, looking at interesting piece of tree bark, or drinking latte foam art.

But, if I take a trip to a legendary vacation location — watch out selfie-land, I’m coming for you.

This article has been republished from Your Tango with full permission. You can view the original article here: What Happened When I Stopped Taking Selfies For A Month.

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