What I learned about myself when I accidentally deleted my Instagram account…

The other morning, while lazing in bed and bouncing between all my social media apps, I stumbled onto an old and forgotten IG account that I had used to document becoming vegan. There had been no activity on it for years and I guess I just thought it was long since deleted, but there it still was. So I went into the web browser on my phone, logged into the old account {or so I thought}, and clicked on permanently delete my account. I entered my password to confirm the delete and it was done.

It was only when I went back to the IG app and kept being switched to my private family account that it started to sink in: I HAD DELETED MY CURRENT ACCOUNT INSTEAD.

And my feelings in the next couple of hours shocked me.

You know that intense stomach churning panic you sometimes feel when you get a major shock? Like that feeling if you think you’ve just hit send on a bitchy text or email to the wrong person and the bitching is about them and not intended for them, or if you think you’ve entered an extra number on a bank transfer or eftpos payment. That split second heart attack feeling of OMFG what did I just do?????

Amid the disbelief and refusal to accept what my brain was trying to tell me, I felt physically sick. Sick in the stomach with anxiety and stress, I also broke out in a sweat, was panicked and freaking out, and could not wrap my head around what I had just done.

All over an Instagram account.

And what had I actually lost?

As it turned out, not really that much.

All of my posts had automatically saved to my phone as they were shared, and older posts had been exported months ago. So I still had every picture, video, and story, they just no longer existed on the familiar grid I’d been using to share them on since 2015. I even had all of my old-old-account posts from when I first joined Instagram in 2012 saved in the cloud too.

First ever Instagram posts: March 2012.

So why exactly was I freaking out?

It wasn’t the loss of followers, because I knew I could ask the genuine accounts I interact with to follow a new account, it’s never been about how-many-followers for me. I knew I would never be able to remember every single account I followed, but over time I knew I’d end up re-following them all.

It kept coming back to that damned grid.

The loss of travel photos, endless OOTD’s and food shots should not have hurt so much, and yet there I was: horrified.

All backed up…

After setting up a new account and furiously going about re-following all of my friends and family, I was sent a link from a friend with information on contacting Facebook {who own Instagram}, who, with verification of my identity, could possibly attempt to restore my deleted account. I was out when I received her message, and gratefully let her know I’d give it a go. I had been given a lifeline.

But by the time I got home my nerves had calmed and the dust had settled, and I was surprised to discover that the idea of starting fresh with a new account suddenly didn’t feel so awful anymore*.

The way I looked at it was this: all of those old posts had been shared at the time they happened, and had already been seen, liked, and commented on. Why did it matter if they were no longer there? They had served the very purpose IG exists for: to share the moment. There would be new memories, new moments, new thoughts and stories to {over}share. New OOTD’s and new recipes. And maybe by starting fresh I could even try that thing I admired in other IG accounts and have some kind of cohesive feel or theme to my grid. I’d start doing video stories and have cute covers for my highlights!!!

The feelings of panic were slowly replaced by acceptance that the old account was gone, and excitement at starting with a clean slate once again. And tbh I was a bit shocked at how visceral my reaction had been to deleting it in the first place. I knew I loved the IG and wasted too much time on it, but it was startling to realise that I also seemed to need it far more than I should. I decided that I’d give myself a few days to set up the new account, and that after I would definitely enforce some regular IG-free days every week.

And let’s just say that I like that idea a lot better than I liked all the feelings I had when I realised I’d deleted my account.

My tips:

  • DO autosave your uploads to your camera roll as you go, especially if the thought of losing your entire Instagram account makes you break out in a cold sweat. You can do the same for Stories.
  • DO check Google for links and sites to help you export all your Instagram data. It can then be downloaded to your computer and backed up to a cloud.
  • DO contact Facebook/Instagram for help, if you can verify your identity as instructed via email you may be able to reverse the delete. This only applies to permanently deleted accounts, temporarily disabled accounts just need to be reactivated.
  • DON’T use the same password for all your social media accounts, that’s most likely what tripped me up.
  • DON’T freak out if you have to start all over again. If you have a second IG account use that along with your Facebook and Twitter accounts to let people know what’s happened, and where they can find your new account.
  • DON’T create new Instagram accounts for every new thing you try**.

*I didn’t end up following up beyond reading the email Facebook sent me explaining what I needed to do. You’ll be required to send them a photo of yourself holding a piece of paper with a code written on it that they will have sent you, as well as your email and username details. If I had followed up I probably would have tried the “I was hacked” excuse. 😉

**More of a note to self than an actual tip.



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