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Have you ever missed out on a great experience because you were glued to your phone? Here's how to share your life on Instagram & be present.

How To Share Your Life On Instagram Without Missing It In The Process

Life to the Full

The sun was going down over the Florida coast, our toes were buried in the sand, and I could hear the voices and giggles of my five favorite people around me. They’re people I rarely get to see, people who are usually scattered all over the country if not the world, and being with them felt like home.


And as we sat there, the sun lit up the sky with such brilliance and such color, it was almost like it knew how special that moment was. The sun knew how hard it was to get us all together, how much effort and intentionality had gone into making that trip happen, and how special and sacred time together is.


I’m super embarrassed to tell you what I’m about to say next.

How To Share Your Life On Instagram Without Missing It In The Process - StephanieMayWilson.com


Want to know what my most resounding thought was on that evening — the smell of salt in the air, my husband and best friends splashing in the surf right next to me?


I was thinking, “I need to get a great photo of this to share on Instagram so everyone can see my friends and how much fun we’re having.” 


Yuck.


For the last year, if not much, much longer, Instagram has been at the top of my mind. If I’m in a special moment, my first thought is to capture it, share it, and then look to see who liked it. If I’m not in a special moment, I feel pressure to GET myself into a special moment so I can capture it, share it, and then look to see who liked it.


And I know I’m not the only one.


I love social media just as much as the next person — maybe even more. It is part of my job after all, one of the ways new sweet readers find me, get to know me, a table we gather around to tell our stories and become friends.


But somewhere along the line, the tables turned. I had started focusing more on sharing those most sacred moments, and less on actually experiencing them. And I hadn’t truly noticed until that very moment, until I missed the final moments of the sunset with my best friends because I was too busy writing a caption, and finding the perfect hashtag.

How To Share Your Life On Instagram Without Missing It In The Process - StephanieMayWilson.com


And for the first time I realized I can’t share those moments with both my followers and my loved ones at the same time. Neither can you. And we know this is true.


Have you ever been at lunch with a friend when halfway through you telling a story they picked up their phone to look at it? They might tell you something reassuring like, “I’m still listening!” or “I just need to check one thing, keep talking!” but you don’t want to keep talking. Because with a simple act, they communicated that they’re not truly there anymore, not truly present or paying attention.


Or on the flip side: You’re at dinner with your family, when you pick up your phone and start scrolling. Before you know it, your heart and your mind aren’t at dinner anymore. You can’t hear the sounds of laughter, you aren’t clued into the conversation. You’ve zoomed out of the present and into a world where someone just got engaged, and someone else nailed a Crock Pot recipe for dinner, and someone else is on a trip to the Bahamas, and someone else just got a new shirt from an Etsy shop you’ve been wanting to check out.


I’m not advocating for a total boycott of social media (although that day I was so frustrated, I seriously considered chucking my phone into the Atlantic).


But I am advocating for taking another look at who we’re really sharing our lives with and how.


Because I know that by sharing my most precious moments, I’ve actually stopped fully experiencing them.


So here’s what I’ve been doing lately to get Instagram back in its rightful place in my life: 


1. Capture now, share later 


Honestly, this was something that hadn’t occurred to me. I didn’t realize that I could capture a moment and then share it later once the moment was over. But it’s genius! Right? We can snap a quick photo of a precious, beautiful moment, and set it aside until there’s a good time to plug into our phone for a second to write a caption and post.


Giving that buffer allows us to be fully present in the moment, and as a bonus, it gives us a few more minutes to decide whether we really want to share that photo, or to just keep it for our own memories!


2. Set boundaries 


I don’t know about you, but when my phone isn’t in my hand, it’s like a limb is missing. I reach for it to start scrolling without even thinking about it.


But I want to think about it! So I’ve started setting boundaries for when and how I use my phone.


I’ve turned off all social media notifications. I have to actually open the app to see what’s going on. And when it comes to opening the app, I’ve decided to stop checking my phone after 5pm. It goes in the category of emails — put away outside of work hours.


Not only that, but I’m learning to protect my weekends. For hours at a time, I’ll put my phone on silent and stash it somewhere far away from me.


Life is so endlessly beautiful, and I want to be present for it, notice it, savor it. And I’ve noticed that I simply can’t do this and scroll through my phone at the same time. So I’m setting aside more and more time without my phone, so I can be more and more present in my beautiful real life.


3. Be more selfish with your moments 


This is my favorite thing I’ve done lately. A few weeks after we returned from Florida our family went to the Dominican Republic for a week. If you follow me on Instagram though, you’d never know that, because I didn’t share a single photo from the trip. I took photos, absolutely. But I didn’t post a single one. It was glorious!


It felt like having a really great secret. I was experiencing something that was all my own, reserved for me and my husband and his sweet family. I didn’t have to worry about how my hair looked in photos, or about capturing the moments just right, or about who was seeing or liking my posts.


I just got to be there. I got to be selfish with those precious moments, and it was incredible.


Our lives are made up of these moments — of birthday parties, and date nights, and dinners made, and dinners botched. These are the moments that make up our story, that make up our lives!


Social media can be a great tool to capture these moments, to help us remember them, and to invite people we love into them.


But the problem comes when we feel the need to share them, when the sharing takes us out of the moment, and when we forget that we don’t actually have to share every moment of our lives.


And when we don’t share every moment of our lives, we get to more fully share them with the people who matter most.


Have you ever felt yourself being taken out of the moment by sharing on Social Media? How do you keep it in check? I’d love to hear! Pop your thoughts in the comments below!


P.S. If you want to hear more of my heart on this topic and social media, check out these podcast episodes:


Girls Night #24: How to Protect Your Heart From Social Media Comparison


Girls Night #77: How to Make Your Life More Meaningful and Less Stressful


Girls Night #71: How to Overcome Insecurity and Embrace Your Identity in Christ


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Have you ever missed out on a great experience because you were glued to your phone? Here's how to share your life on Instagram & be present.

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Add a Comment
  1. Rachelle Rea says:

    This is so very good, Stephanie. Thank you for sharing <– and for not sharing.

    I, too, have ticked no notifications for my social media apps. So freeing. I like the 5pm rule, though! My days sorta run the opposite. I'm rarely on social media at work except on breaks, so my social media-ing kinda begins after 5pm LOL. However, I like the idea of having a hard-and-fast no-more rule. I'll find a day or time that works for me.

    Appreciate the encouragement!

  2. Anna says:

    Four years ago I went through that same realization with FB. But for me, I couldn’t cut back… I had to quit cold turkey! It was months before my brain stopped thinking in FB posting patterns. But I have no regrets! I get to live in my moments now!

  3. Alexis says:

    This was so good and so true! I am the exact same way with my Instagram account. I even allow it to rule my life so much, that it starts making me have the lowest self-esteem. I decided to give it up for Lent. Shocking! I was so scared to do it, but the idea of me being scared to give up Instagram for a few weeks was reason enough to do it. I realized that I had been sacrificing so many things for something that never sacrificed anything for me. I’m a week in, and I feel so renewed and better already. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll be back on once Lent is over, but I feel like I’ll be so much better at how often I’m on it and how much I share. Your tips are so great and I’ll definitely be using them! Xo

  4. Such good advice Stephanie! I’ve become a big fan of sharing photos later as well, so I don’t miss a moment with the people or place I’m in…I need to be more intentional about putting my phone on silent though, thank you for the suggestion!

  5. Leighann says:

    Love this post. I’ve experienced this with blogging too. Great reminder to “be”.

  6. Allison says:

    I love this!! I have a love/hate relationship with technology. It has the potential to brings us together when we’re miles and countries apart but also, it is capable of creating walls and distancing friends in the same room so easily. Thank you for those boundary suggestions, definitely implementing today!

  7. BEkka says:

    I’m totally a capture now and share later person. I’ve had to silence the voice in me that says there will be less impact if it’s not in real time. Just the other day my fiance and I were having dinner and I realized mid-meal neither of us had taken a picture of check out phones, it was refreshing. Not every date will be like that, but I think we’ll have to set boundaries for “unplugged dates”. Wonderful post!! <3 Bekka
    http://www.blanketfortadventures.com

  8. Lianna maRie says:

    I absolutely love this! Definitely going to be following this advice.

  9. kourt says:

    great points. I love the idea of ‘capture now, share later’

  10. McKenzie says:

    I love this post. So important to remember to put the phone down & treasure moments when you’re in them!! Especially since we live in a world when missing a phone does feel like you’re missing a limb– we have to set boundaries! Thanks for this. ❤️

  11. Morgan says:

    I’ve been having so many of these same thoughts lately! I committed to a social media free weekend a few weeks ago, and it was SO nice and refreshing. It really brought to light how much I pick my phone up and scroll for literally NO good reason. I love the idea of posting later too. Too often we get so caught up in making sure all of our followers know exactly what we’re doing and how much fun we’re having immediately. And really, it’s just no necessary. Being present and enjoying the moment is a much better and fulfilling use of our time! Great post!

  12. Jasmine says:

    Well said! I try to capture now, share later…I’m tried of telling my husband to ‘hold on’ while hashtaging. lol

  13. Jenni says:

    So much *YES* for this whole blog!!!
    This really stuck out to me…. “But somewhere along the line, the tables turned. I had started focusing more on sharing those most sacred moments, and less on actually experiencing them. And I hadn’t truly noticed until that very moment, until I missed the final moments of the sunset with my best friends because I was too busy writing a caption, and finding the perfect hashtag.”

  14. Nakia Jones says:

    Recently I’ve started to get obsessed with Instagram. I went months without posting a picture and barely checking the app. I felt so mysterious, like only close friends who I speak to regularly know what I’m up too. But know I’m back and It’s like if I didn’t post a picture, did it even happen lol. Then once its posted my eyes are glued to the phone waiting to see who liked. Its a bad habit and can really takeaway from experiences when your focused on the phone. I’ve made a conscious effort to post it and forget it. After I post a picture, I turn my phone over or put it away.

  15. Alicia says:

    This is such a GOOD word, Stephanie. I recently came across your blog and am seriously so blessed + inspired by your honesty, transparency, and candidness. LOVE IT SO MUCH.

    I’ve found myself wrestling with alot of the same thoughts about social media and how it can both take away from those special moments OR make you feel obligated to somehow create something special just so you have something to share. There are obviously two ditches to fall into with social media, and I’m trying hard to find that nice middle road! I find IG a fun way to connect with people I both know IRL and those I’ve met from online platforms, and it is a FUN and GOOD way to stay connected. But never at the expense of the moments that are actually right in front of you. Anyway, I’m babbling now…but all that to say, this is so good and I’m right there with ya!

  16. Stephanie, I am so glad that you recognize the current epidemic that our society has with our phones and social media. I have found it to be hard to truly engage in the moment, even if I’m taking a picture now to post later. However, I have found that I am most engaged in the moments surrounding me when I least care about what people will think of it. I desire to keep the moment to myself, and take pictures as a special token of the moment. Then, I go back and share it if I desire to. Whenever I am getting caught up on thinking too much about social media, I take a break from it for a week to make sure that I am still happy without it!

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    https://justalittlefaithblog.wordpress.com

  17. Marisa Bergman says:

    This is such a touching post!! I have been off of all social media for a month (#LENT) and feel so refreshed. As I read the words here I felt content about the decision I made because I knew I was starting to find my identity in Instagram, Snapchat, even Pinterest! So hearing how I can maintain the amount of time I spend on social media after Easter is encouraging and motivating!! Just makes me feel better to hear that I’m not the only one obsessed with snapping a picture and immediately sharing it! ???? Such a powerful message!! Thank you Stephanie!!

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