Instagram is down (and other things that make me panic)

Almost unconsciously, my fingers gravitate towards the same collection of apps every morning. My alarm has barely finished ringing before I’ve checked both email inboxes, done a quick sweep of my messages and started the social networking treadmill. My head hasn’t even left my pillow yet.

But today was different. Instagram was down.


I started trouble shooting. Switching between WiFi and 4G, turning my phone on and off again. Even reaching for my laptop to try the desktop version. Nothing. Worked.

I rolled over and lurched for my boyfriend’s phone, hoping this was an isolated issue. But still, the dreaded error message appeared.

Defeated, I put the phones down. My chest tight, thoughts racing. I felt like an addict, unable to satisfy a craving I knew I should ignore. It’s just Instagram, I told myself, what are you really missing out on?

For years I’ve read headlines about the damaging effects of social media and mobile tech on our mental health, eroding our attention spans and weaving its way into the fabric of our daily lives. Today was a lightbulb moment as I finally understood what that all amounts to: a bleary eyed panic over the inability to resume my social media scroll.

I could rattle off endless stats on our generation’s usage of Facebook and Instagram, reveal shocking correlations between social media and self esteem and link you to a thousand articles about the implications of it all for society at large. But instead, I thought I’d share some more personal insights.

As my Screen Time app continually reminds me my iPhone has become like a fifth limb, always within arms reach. On buses, in queues, waiting for my coffee, even during bathroom breaks, this trusty device is my constant companion. It’s a love hate relationship, a cycle I’m aware of but stubbornly refuse to break. During outages like this, I become acutely aware of how dependent I’ve become on this small portable computer.

This need for perpetual stimulation and virtual connection is frightening.

Aside from being unable to update my Instagram Story, here are other things that make me hit the panic button:

  • Running for a train and realising my Opal card is out of money

  • Furiously digging through my wallet to find my license while being ID’d at the pub

  • Seeing an email market ‘URGENT’ hit my inbox

  • Discovering our freezer is void of ice cream at 10:30 pm on a Wednesday night

  • Receiving an AfterPay payment reminder the day before rent is due (with only $300 in the bank)

  • Hitting send on a stressful message, seeing moments later that it’s sent to the wrong person

  • Forgetting to put on deodorant only to realise half-way through an important 4 pm meeting

  • Sitting in an Uber on Elizabeth Street at 5:45 pm, considering jumping out the window and walking after moving 100 metres in the past 15 minutes

What gets your pulse racing? Do you have any irrational fears that would make most people laugh? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!