My Journey to a healthy Relationship with Highly Addictive Social Media

Warning: EXTREME transparency ahead. If honesty makes you uncomfortable, don’t read it. If you think that I’m ‘cool’ and would prefer to live in that world, don’t read this. You’re going to realize really quickly how nerdy I truly am.

I recently did a social media fast for Lent and I wanted to write up a post of some of the conclusions I found while they were still fresh in my mind. I almost kept this to myself, but after a chat with the amazing Morgan Weber, I realized I’m not actually the only person who thinks like this and it might be worth sharing.

Here’s some background information:

I used to work as an art director for an ad agency where i was constantly surrounded by witty, creative people. It was an extremely social environment and as an EXTREMELY social person, I LOVED it. I loved laughing all day and brainstorming and being surrounded by visual stimulation.

Then my side photography business took off and began to earn me enough to be a full-time business. This happened simultaneously with Jared and I decided to start a family. Perfect timing! I quit my day job and began to work from home.



All alone.


All day long.


Enter social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, my blog, Vimeo. I do it all. I love it all. And it almost created the illusion that I was surrounded by people all day. I don’t recall when social media began to take up a large portion of my day, but it had and I started to wonder if I might actually be addicted to it. My thumb navigates to Instagram idly before I even realize what has happened.

I don’t like addictions. I don’t want to be addicted to anything in this world.

So for Lent this year, I decided to give it up. (Also I got called out on it by my friend which isn’t a pleasant feeling but hey! what are you gonna do?)

Now if you’re reading this you may prefer a particular social media, I know for a lot of people it’s Facebook, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to focus on Instagram because it seems to be the media that is most addictive to me.

Let me walk you through my relationship with Instagram.

My photographer friend Janae told me I’d love it. When I first downloaded this app, I 100% thought it was an editing app and I thought “Oh cool. Here’s a way for my crappy cell phone photos to look less crappy on their way to Facebook.” I did not know there was a social component to it at all. (Brandon Goodwin has a funny story about how he would use Instagram to edit goofy-seductive-joke-one-eyebrow-raised-photos and send them to his wife before he realized other people could see them. Whoops. Hilarious.)

Then I started noticing people’s names appearing by my photos. How elderly am I? I really thought “why does it say ‘tshelburn’ next to my photo? Oh. I guess he ‘liked’ it? Wait, people can see these? Oh, you can follow people. I get it.”

Then almost overnight, I understood the wonder and awesomeness that is Instagram. As a visual person, it is the ultimate treat in social media. It’s just bad@ss photos. Coming at you. All day long.

But then things got weird. Part of me wants to blame it on VSCO cam. And also the MASSIVE improvements on the most recent iPhone cameras. But something happened where suddenly every photo on my feed was BEAUTIFUL. “They took these on a CELL PHONE? Seriously?” And it wasn’t just the quality of photo. It was what the photos were of: amazing vintage furniture, delicious artsy food, flea market finds, DIY makeover projects, beautiful children doing awesome craft projects. I follow some SERIOUSLY creative people. This has it’s perks but it also can create some dangerous mental patterns. Here’s what I’ve found:


“Inspired, then Tired”

Some of these crafty people get my visual heart SO PUMPED that for a minute I want to go create something. Anything! I want to go make beautiful art. I want to go flea-marketing. I want to cook a beautiful dinner. But then it’s almost immediately followed by exhaustion. These people ARE SO CREATIVE! I really just want to take a nap. Failure, failure, failure. What happened? How could I go from 0-60 so quickly and back? Social media should not be a source of comparison and self-doubt. That’s crazy!


“Only 12 likes?”

Just as quickly as self-doubt can creep in, validation can also take over. I remember I used to get a kick out of people liking a photo. “Sweet! People like this!” If enough people liked it, their little names would disappear and instead a number would take over. If I got more than 10 likes, then I’d feel pretty legit. But then 10 became 20, 20 became 30. Now if a photo gets a lowly 12 likes, I deem it a failure. THAT IS RIDICULOUS! This is the hilariously bizarre false-world of popularity and validation-from peers. It’s never enough. I follow some seriously popular instagrammers. The ones that post a picture of their shoes and you hit refresh one time and instantly has 156 likes. I guarantee you right now that even they have a moment where they think “oh. that photo only got 2492 likes. Bummer.” Social media can not be a go-to source for validation. That’s crazy.


“The Instagram Couple”

1. I am a romantic. A hopeless HOPELESS romantic and I LOVE the ‘Instagram couple’. I think they are adorable. You know the ones? Sometimes they have a matching username even. “iammegwest’, ‘iammattwest’, ‘herwelshness’, ‘hiswelshness’. THAT IS THE CUTEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD. Seriously. Husbands posting photos of their wives with a caption like ‘i’m the luckiest man in the world’. I swoon. Sometimes audibly. Then I silently take it out on Jared for not being on Instagram. This is real love. Instagram love. Jared doesn’t really love me unless he tells Facebook about how much he loves me. Wait. What? My husband does not enjoy social media. He is an extremely private person. (Unlike me who truly desires to be honest and vulnerable with complete strangers. We’re two extremes. I get it.) But guess what? My husband ADORES me. He is always doing the sweetest stuff for me. He is THE BEST dad. He IS a romantic. He DOES validate me. And he does it all in private and that doesn’t make it mean less.

2. The ‘Instagram couple’ does cool things together. They went hiking. And they went and saw that band. And they spent all Saturday gardening. Me and Jared just rented a movie. We aren’t cool. Failure. Failure. Failure. Social media should not be source of comparing my marriage with other people’s marriage. That’s crazy.



“What if I lose followers?”

What if I talk about Jesus too much? What if 6 posts of my kids in one day is too many and becomes obnoxious? This photo isn’t the best light, maybe I shouldn’t post it. After all, people at any moment could realize that I really AM NOT THAT COOL and decide to stop following me. Are you getting by now that i am an OVERANALYZER? Social Media should not be something I think this hard about. That’s CRAAAAAAZYYYY!


By now you should be exhausted by the way my brain works, but here comes the good part:




Logging off for a month was the best thing I could have possibly done because you know what I realized?


Social Media IS NOT A BIG DEAL.

I can live with it or without it. Deciding to log back on was because I decided there were more positive things than negative things. Relieved? Me too. Now let’s talk about those:


“I love my Instagram Friends”

I love seeing what @alicecalvery ate for breakfast when she is in jackson, tn. I love that I actually consider @nathaliebearden a dear friend even though we HAVE NEVER MET. I love staying connected. I care about people. I care about the details of their life. I LOVE their kids. I love that they spray-painted their .99 unicorn they found and now it looks SO COOL. It’s silliness and I love it.


“Art is made to be shared”

I have this crazy urge that as soon as I make art, I’m BUSTING at the seams to share it with someone else. Even if it’s a backlit sunny iPhone photo of my daughter on a swing. It’s still art. And what is the point of art unless you’re going to share it with the world?


“Pause and look at how beautiful your life is”

I love photography because it makes you pause. My life is fast-paced and my kids have needs all day long. But taking a photo makes you pause. And looking at that photo can take me to another dimension. “Look at this photo of Callie. God, she is SO beautiful. When’s the last time I stopped and looked at her eyelashes? Look at how long her hair is getting. She is growing so fast and I am so grateful for this photo where time is frozen and i can just stop at stare.”


“This is how I see the world”

I want to share my perspective with you. I see things differently than you. I want to show you how I experienced that picnic. And I want to see how you experienced that road trip. What a gift photography is! What a cool way to show people how you view things.


Like anything addictive, moderation is key, so here’s my plan for a HEALTHY relationship with social media. when I say “you” I really mean “me”. These are all directed at me, Katie Day. So if I sound bossy, it’s because I need to boss myself around sometimes.



The most addicting part of Instagram is the Insta part. I like instantly making art and instantly getting a response. But the problem is if I’m editing and uploading a photo while I’m at the park with my daughter. I’m NOT really present at the park with my daughter am I? Sometimes I see an Instagram of two pairs of feet propped up on a coffee table with the caption like “snuggled up with my husband watching a movie. perfect evening.” Nope. No, you’re not. You are “on instagram while a movie is playing that I’m only half watching because i waiting to see if this photo gets ‘likes'” And I know you’re still logged in because you just responded to my comment about how much I like your TOMS. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take the photo, Take the photo. I want to see it! I will definitely “like” it…But take it and then put your dang phone away. You can post it later with the perfect amount of vsco ‘fade’.


“Real People > Instapeople”

When you’re in the room with real people. Put your phone away. Again, I’m all for taking a photo of the experience. Take the photo. You can edit it and post it later when you’re alone again. This includes your kids. Your kids are people. Wait til nap time.


“I was at that birthday party and It wasn’t that cool.”

Sometimes the right lighting and filter can make a moment look 40million times cooler than it actually was. Believe me. My house isn’t always clean. Every moment with my kids isn’t 100% meaningful. I only post selfies if my face looks skinny. I’m actually okay with this. My friend Alice Calvery reminded me that most humans clean up their living rooms before they invite people over. Most people have a layer of manners and politeness when first meeting someone. I’m a-okay with only posting the best stuff on Instagram. I don’t really want to see your dirty kitchen floor. Just keep in mind that you are seeing a small portion of people’s lives. (But if you do enjoy visual transparency, @brechang started a hashtag project called #myREALreallife and it is hilarious.)


“I do what I want”

When I find myself overanalyzing whether or not a photo is “worthy” of posting, I’m going to try this new tactic called ‘i do what i want’. If i feel inspired to post something about Jesus, I’m just going to do it. My kids are reading books, is that worth posting? YEP! I may lose followers. I WILL care when that happens. I’ll pout and say “I’m sad that person stopped following me.” And then I’m going to get over it, and move on and post a photo of Callie eating cereal.


“Log the Eff Off”

My main takeaway from Lent is that I love social media. I think it’s fantastic, but I need to have times where I’m logged in and the rest of the time I need to log the eff off and be present in the real world.


Guys, I’m passionate about Jesus. My one true dream in life is to change everyone’s mind who has a bad taste in their mouth from some “Christian” who wronged them at some point in life. I want to shine Christ’s light in the world. I want to represent joy and encouragement. I would MUCH rather post something that makes you think about how cool God is rather than make you think about how cool I am. I’m not. I like junk from flea markets, yes. I like spray-painting furniture, true. I’ve got hipster glasses and can take a decent photograph. But I would listen to Oldies music over Bon Iver ANY day of the week. I’m the MOST ridiculous improv comedian and make a complete FOOL of myself on stage. I sometimes get so involved in recreating a scene from Aladdin with my daughter that SHE gets bored before I do. I am truly a RIDICULOUS person. But I also REALLY like myself. I LOVE the way God made me in all of my ridiculousness. And I love you too. Exactly the way you are. VSCO filter or not. And so does God.

In conclusion, Instagram is not a big deal. Jesus is a big deal. And the coolest part is that He thinks I’m a big deal and that’s like getting 3000038282904 likes. My validation comes from Christ. Period.

Now I’m going to go post this to Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram and see if i get any likes.

But then I’m logging off. 🙂



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  • beccaApril 5, 2013 - 11:51 am

    shine on, katie day!

  • KimApril 5, 2013 - 11:56 am

    LOVE EVERY WORD Katie Day!! Wish I could see you more than in cyberspace!! You are awesome! 🙂 Maybe I should give up social media next year for Lent….I AM really Catholic!! lol….

  • sandy diazApril 5, 2013 - 12:02 pm

    I absolutely love this! And I totally agree with every single point. Logging off now…

  • Sam HolderApril 5, 2013 - 12:49 pm

    What a wonderful joy it is to see this post. I am self employed and feel exactly the same way you feel about social media (especially instagram). I feel social media consumes me and occasionally talk to my wife about signing off completely. I appreciate your transparency and hope others get the same thing out of your post that I got. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I will learn from them. Keep up the good work! God Bless!

    -sam holder

  • MegsApril 5, 2013 - 2:06 pm

    “I’ve shot some really crappy weddings where afterward people say “that was the most beautiful wedding.” It wasn’t.”

    I can’t believe you just called out my wedding like that.

  • Heather CherieApril 5, 2013 - 2:08 pm

    Couldn’t have said it better! Thanks for sharing your heart! 🙂

  • AnnaApril 5, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    I needed to be bossed around, so thank you! Why have I never thought of just logging off. What?! Brilliant. Thank you for being an inspiration for all of us. And for speaking TRUTH. But I’m glad you’re back!

  • lauren cookApril 5, 2013 - 2:34 pm

    I love love love this post! This has been a huge addiction for me to get under control… I think it’s healthy to limit your social media and focus on the “here and now”. When I see mom’s at the park on their phone I just want to scream, PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KID! They will grow up before you know it. I love pictures, but I’m always worried carson will see the camera lens and think “is that my mom?” Or think my iphone is life support itself. Pinterest got really bad for me, I felt like in order to be a successful artist I had to take pictures that were just as good as the ones I saw on there, and I had to make all these crafts and make my house so adorable. It’s not bad to take pictures, or craft… but I shouldn’t sacrifice time with my family or God to obsess about it.
    Great post! I have always looked up to you as a woman and artist. You are honest and that’s the best kind of person! You can confront yourself, learn from it and teach others. AH-mazing :]

  • Audrey DeFordApril 5, 2013 - 5:18 pm

    One of my friends sent me the link to this post after she read it. She and I have had this exact conversation quite often over the past few months! We are both self-employed artists and extroverts and spend significant amounts of time at home alone. We’ve seen how truly addicting (and devastating) social media can be to our hearts–especially the visual eye candy of Instagram! It can spiral out of control…and quick! Thank you for your transparency in this post. I think it would do us all good to enter into an ongoing “checks and balances” dialogue surrounding this topic. I love the idea of Latergramming everything and plan on implementing that pronto. So thanks!! I also just wrote a little post on this very topic last month. I’ll link it in case you are interested in giving it a read. Christ is our validation, and he is truly enough. 🙂
    Thanks again! Wishing you all the best.
    -Audrey DeFord

  • SarahApril 5, 2013 - 5:18 pm

    Katie–I love this post. I so agree with it. I’ve seen social media literally take over people’s experiences. And let’s be honest, when I’m having the time of my life, I DON’T stop and take a picture. I don’t want anything to destract me from my enjoyment. So, all that to say, I love what you wrote and thanks for sharing 🙂

  • kdpApril 5, 2013 - 5:58 pm

    HAHAHAHA MEGAN!!!!! Never!!!

  • amanda juneApril 5, 2013 - 8:28 pm

    hey — you don’t know me (you did a couple of my friends’ weddings way back when and then i got obsessed with your photography:) but i love this. thanks for being so real and also for the validation that, yes, it IS weird and rude (crazy, you might even say) when i’m instagramming my awesome dinner with my fiance while i’m…having dinner with my awesome fiance. latergram it is.

    also! i love that you share what’s going on with you in different areas — not just the thrift store hipster glasses furniture remodels but also not just the book excerpts spiritual experiences but also not just the supercute kids family sweetness…know what i mean? i dig that it’s all there and you’re not only sharing what seems coolest. (or…maybe you are, but it seems like authentic stuff still makes its way out anyhow.) 🙂 rock on katie day.

  • AshleyApril 5, 2013 - 10:33 pm

    Katie, I literally only know you because you did the photography for my sister’s wedding, but I look forward to your posts and photos more than most of the people I’ve known forever! I don’t know what that says about me, or the people I’m friends with, or about you. It is all too easy to get wrapped up in social media and it can either suppress you or set you free! I feel like I should recommend this topic to some people I know for their review, a polite reminder of what’s important. =)

  • Jennie FrakeApril 5, 2013 - 10:36 pm

    Thanks for such an honest post! I’ve been folllowing your blog & instagram for a little while now and can’t get enough of your pretty photos and witty comments. 🙂 I have no idea how I found you but I’m glad I did. I can totally relate to everything you said. I used work at an ad agency and LOVED everything you mentioned above. Now I’m a wife, mommy and photographer and can’t get enough social media. Its nuts! I have to say, you are one of the most inspiring and talented “grammers” I follow. And it has nothing to with your like counts. Its your realness. I freakin love it! Thought you should also know that one of your IG posts had a HUGE impact on my life just by posting a photo of your bible and mentioning quiet times. I’m not exaggerating. Somewhere along the way, I guess I thought I just didn’t need any more of that. I was so wrong. Thank you! <3


  • Bethany MichaelaApril 8, 2013 - 9:17 am

    I know I already said this on Instagram, but thank you for this post. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot these past three months.

  • Erin WardApril 14, 2013 - 9:03 pm

    Oh girl, I totally hear you! Balancing social media is HARD. Thanks for sharing!

  • Holly Hammar LearApril 22, 2013 - 5:05 am

    Loved reading this, Katie! Thanks for sharing. I too get super excited then exhausted while perusing through Instagram and Pinterest. You said it so well!

  • AngieApril 22, 2013 - 8:08 pm

    This came at the perfect time! I’ve been telling myself for a few weeks now to “unplug” and be present. I’ve given myself specific rules to follow when I can be on my phone (IGing, FBing, emailing, etc) instead of focusing on my kids. I quit the world of the working people so I could specifically be WITH my kids every single day, not so I could be distracted by a stinkin’ phone and all the beautifully addictive aps. Thanks for the reminder to unplug and be present. Here’s to my renewed conviction to remain unplugged until all the people are away or sleeping. Then I can attend to my guilty fixation with social media.

    p.s. I started following you on IG post lent fast, and I find you ridiculously witty and interesting. Post all the Jesus-lovin, kid-happening, random pictures you want. I may or may not “like” them, but I definitely enjoy your feed. Thanks for sharing.

  • Megan RobinsonMay 18, 2013 - 12:58 am

    I swear you just observed my life and wrote a post about making a lesson out of my mistakes and addictions. so so so glad you wrote this! I’m glad you did decide to write this and remind me to live life. and to know that I’m not alone with my problems 🙂

  • EmilyMay 24, 2013 - 8:42 pm

    Hey there sister- I was so excited to find this post. Right there with you & blogging about it, too. It’s hard to be super creative & motivated, maybe a little OCD, and temper the net biz. I agree- instagram is the worst. I delete it for a couple days… Helps me.

  • jessica tingleJanuary 26, 2014 - 9:07 pm

    I am so glad I stumbled across this post today! I feel the exact same way about validation and comparing my marriage to other instacouples! I actually convinced my husband to get an instagram because I hoped he would post sweet pictures of me like all the other amazing husbands and boyfriends out there. Yeah, I feel kinda bad about that one. Turns out he does like instagram, but doesn’t post as many pictures as I had once hoped he might. But now, I’m OK with that. I realized that it doesn’t validate our marriage because actually, he’s the one never on his phone during dates or movie nights at home. That’s still something I need to work on. I’m really inspired by all of your changes! I need to start logging off more, that might help. My other addiction, actually probably my bigger addiction, is Pinterest. My husband enjoys driving and I don’t, so first thing I do when I get in the passenger seat is whip out my phone and start pinning away until we reach our destination. It really bugs me, yet I always do it! I’ve been trying to do better recently and just leave my phone in my purse the entire car ride. It’s still a work in progress, but maybe it’s time for me to give myself some more challenges.

    And, can I just say that I love you posting about Jesus, and your kids, and your life! And I actually think you’re cool! And I also don’t mind if you clean your house for me, haha. I see both sides, and I love being ‘real’ but I have to agree that I give real people my best self, so I’m going to continue doing the same with instapeople.

    Thanks for sharing, Katie!

  • Erin O'BrienJanuary 27, 2014 - 2:37 pm

    Thanks for being so real. I can totally relate. I’m addicted to Twitter the most, but I care the most about getting likes and attention on Instagram. It’s hard when there are creative people I follow who take way better pictures than me and get more likes. I guess that’s just life in this digital age. My sister has been telling me “Be with who you’re with” whenever we’re out some where and I look at my phone. That’s a good way of putting it.

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