I have a love-hate relationship with social media – mainly, Instagram.
For the last few months (actually couple of years), I’ve read zillions of articles on “Quitting Social Media”, “Quit Instagram for Good”, “What happened when I stayed off social media for a year” “Why I Quit Social Media”, “Benefits of Quitting Social Media”, and now I think it’s time for me to follow through.
I have been active (on and off) on Instagram since 2015. Back in the day when I was doing lifestyle & wedding photography (more about that here), I started my first Instagram account. I would post little preview images and snippets, but back then my main “social media channel” was my Facebook page, as most of my customers mainly used Facebook. I also blogged about my assignments, and it quickly became clear that most of my future customers came through my blog / website.
When I started Essem Creatives, I wanted to follow a similar approach. But, somewhere along the line, I got a bit distracted by the glitz and glamour of Instagram, the instant feedback (and approval) that we get through likes and comments, and kept feeding my little Instagram.
But, I feel like I’m done for now. I want to change something about this pattern.
So for now, I’m going to reduce my Instagram time drastically (basically not go on Instagram), and see how it goes. I’m going to do this for 6 months to see where it takes me!
I’m looking to see 3 changes through this:
1. Be more calm and relaxed
Things on Instagram have not smooth sailing in the 4 years I’ve been there. Things going well? Oh well, Instagram has now changed the algorithm so now only 50 people will see your post instead of 500. It’s been a long time since you’ve posted? Oh no, getting back into the good graces of the algorithm will take a few posts (and may be a few weeks).
Not only that, I also found myself hankering for likes, and if they didn’t come through, I would spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about “content” for Instagram specifically. But you know what? This was damaging for my overall productivity & creativity. Art that might do well in a shop with actual customers, is not necessarily going to do well as a post on Instagram, and vice versa. I think I’ve always known this, but the urge to “get ahead of the algorithm” and the overall addiction to all the lovely new eye candy content on Instagram just kept me stuck to the same old pattern.
In short, it kept me anxious, and worried. Being OFF of Instagram, I will remove this one source of anxiety. I already feel more peaceful about the people in my personal life, since I’ve stopped logging into my personal Instagram.
2. Be More Productive as a result of LESS information consumption
A month ago, I decided to stay off of my personal Instagram. I just wouldn’t log in. A few weeks in, I realised that I filled up the time that I’d formerly spent mindlessly scrolling on my personal Instagram on my work Instagram instead. And it did nothing for me. If anything, my creativity reached a low point. You see, information overdose is the worst thing for a creative person. It leads to action paralysis.
Consuming just the information that is required for “research” or “inspiration” is different from mindless scrolling on Instagram – the latter is something that I’ve done way, WAY too much.
My work projects are much more smooth sailing when I restrict myself to a well set brief, and have a few curated sources of research and inspiration.
Staying off of Instagram feed will cut out a lot of the unnecessary information that has been clogging up my mind (I follow a LOT of home decor feeds, and I really don’t need to see yet another bathroom renovation).
3. It will make me feel better / less bad about myself
This is one that we hear from everyone.
“Instagram makes me feel bad about myself!”
Why, yes, me too!
Instagram is a curated reel of millions of people’s highlights. We KNOW this. Intellectually. But when I spend hours on it, it somewhat just fades into “people on the internet have such amazing lives”. That is really far from the truth. I KNOW that I’m better off avoiding anything or anyone that makes me feel bad about myself. I feel like I am much more at peace & content with how I am, what I have, and my own dreams and ambitions when I spend more time thinking about my own life and people in my personal life, my actual customers who support me, and my work, rather than by dwelling on snippets of hundreds (and thousands) of people I don’t know on Instagram.
I don’t WANT to feel bad about myself! So why should I keep inflicting the same thing on myself over and over? Something’s got to change.
I’m now going to stay off of Instagram for a while and instead channel my energies into my website. I also have genuine connections through my email newsletter. Each of my email newsletter subscribers is a person who has opted in to stay in touch with me via email! I often get responses to my new product launch emails with feedback – and those mean a lot to me.
How Long Will I Stay Off Instagram?
For now, I’m starting with 6 months, and we’ll see where it takes me! My hopes for this time are that I will be more calm and at peace, I’ll have better creativity and productivity, and my overall satisfaction levels with myself and my life should grow.
Are you a kindred spirit who has also been contemplating reducing your time on Instagram?
I’m glad you’re doing this for yourself Sneha! Your work is so beautiful, and anything that makes it easier for you to do it, and makes you calmer and happier, is good! :) Thanks for sharing your thought process with us, and good luck with your first 6 months!
Thank you so much, Barbara! I really appreciate your support! It’s been a week and I feel a bit more relaxed already, although my fingers automatically reach for where the Instagram app was on my phone, ha! But I’m sticking to it this time.