Instagram, I love you but you’re bringing me down.

Instagram, I love you but you’re bringing me down. What happened to you? Ever since you changed your algorithm, you haven’t been the same.

Whenever I go to my phone and see your bright pink logo I’m drawn to you, like a bee to a flower. But once your open and I begin scrolling through my feed, I feel that something is amiss. I used to spend many hours in your company, scrolling through beautiful photographs, being inspired by the creativity of my friends. Now as soon as I open you up, I become so disoriented, so appalled by the  busy interface, presented with photos that are hours and even days old, I immediately turn you off.

First lets talk about how you look. There is so much going on, I don’t know where to look. What happened to your sleek, simple layout that showcased the photographs you where designed to share? Why have you incorporated this ‘snapchat’ clone onto your interface? Where there really millions of Instagram users clamoring for this addition? I realize there is a big push to highlight video across social media. No, wait, let me correct myself, there is a big push by Facebook (your big brother), to prioritize video. It seems that simple photography is going the way of the written word; pushed aside in favor of the latest trend adopted by the pre-teen set. Because who doesn’t look better with a dog face or emojis plastered across their selfies?

Oh Instagram, how could you be enticed by the lure of video? You were designed to be a photo sharing platform. A place for photographers, both serious and amateur, to share their work. Isn’t finding inspiration from each other and connecting across the globe through our mutual love of this beautiful medium enough?

Because of you Instagram I have friends all over the globe. Some I have met in person, others I can only dream of meeting. Until that time comes, I assumed that we would always have you, Instagram, as our go-between. Now I’m not so sure.

The rise of toy photography as a photographic niche is due in large part to you! You made it possible for us toy photography nerds to find each other. By sharing our work, we encouraged others to follow. There was a sense of safety knowing that we adults were not alone, that there were others out there just like us, still playing with and photographing their toys. Instagram you made this community possible, you gave us an immeasurably valuable gift. I don’t want to lose what we’ve created playing on this lovely platform; but for the life of me, I can’t see a way out.

Instagram I love you, but you’re freaking me out.

In early June you initiated a new update; you said you wanted to curate my feed for me. I know you think you know me better than I know myself, but frankly I find that insulting. I know you mean well, I know you think you have my best interests at heart, but I can’t help but find your attitude over bearing and over protective.

My morning routine often began by scrolling through my feed, seeing what my friends on the other side of the world had posted while I slept. Now the thrill is gone when you present me with photos that were posted 12, 17 and 21 hours ago. Really? Is that what you think I want to see, yesterdays news? I know you told me that

“the order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

But what is this based on? How are you determining what I want to see? Is it based on my last 10 likes? My last three comments? Are you showing me the photos of the people who’s photos I value the most?

Considering how many times I find myself giving a particular photographers feed multiple likes, sometimes going back two weeks of missed photos, I can only think that you don’t know me as well as you think you do. I know you’re withholding photos from me, are you withholding my photos from my friends as well? The precipitous drop in likes, comments and new followers to my feed, suggests that you are.

Maybe I’m wrong, Maybe your right.

I know you think this new algorithm is going to keep me more engaged with you. At least thats what you told your friends the marketers and advertisers. But I have news for you, it doesn’t. I used to be able to scroll back to the photos I saw the day before and be pretty sure I saw everyones posts for the day. Now that you serve me a curated feed, I seem to only see a small percentage of the over 500 people I follow. Because I have to spend more energy hunting for the feeds I know I’m missing, hanging out with you Instagram resembles work, you’re not fun anymore. I grow frustrated easily, my time is limited, so I leave rather than stay. So much for your theory that I would hang out with you more.

Instagram, I love  you, but you’re bringing me down.

While you’re trying to impress your new friends, the marketers and advertisers, I think you should know, I’ve found someone else. My new friend G+ has been treating me very well and even my old friend Flickr, while not very flashy, has been showing off my photos to good advantage. I know they aren’t hip and cool like you; maybe you’re simply too good for me.

Its hard for me to turn my back on all the good times we’ve had together, but for my own peace of mind I’m going to take a break. I’ll keep checking in, hoping you’ll change back to your reverse-chronological order (or at the very least make it an option). I know you won’t miss me, because I’m only one of many core users, not an influencer, marketer or advertiser.

Instagram I hope we can part friends. We’ve been through so much together, so many changes; I feel like we grew up together! But this last change is too much for me. I hope it was worth it for you; I hope you got out of it what you where looking for. As we go our separate ways, I want you to know that I will always look back fondly on the five good years we had together.

~ Shelly (@xxsjc)

Feel free to leave your own comments about Instagram’s latest update below. 

PS – I will still occasionally post on Instagram, but I won’t be active their like I used to be. I’ve found a good social media home with the fine folks at G+. You can find me there, making new friends and continuing to grow a new toy photography community. Also my apologies to James Murphy and LCD Soundsystem for highjacking their lyrics to New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. 

At Ray Gun point
Free will?


  1. Shelly,

    You have really nailed it. I feel the same way. My brother (@talking_tree) has invested many long hours and years into his community on Instagram and has a following over 150,000. Immediately after the most recent Instagram update his engagement hit a brick wall. It’s almost like they are forcing folks into using the new snapchat ripoff or lose engagement. We all knew this day was coming when Facebook purchased Instagram. Facebook has botched their own system. Facebook’s model has always been to charge the content creator for their work to be seen. Google on the other hand has always charged the advertiser and has paid the content creator for their content. I feel Facebook has ruined Instagram in a way and it makes me sad… I may join you over on G+ but I don’t know if I want to invest so much time and effort into something that could change in a moment with an algorithm update.

    • Joe, I will tell you that G+ has already move to a curated algorithm, but I don’t find it stifling like what IG / FB has created. Maybe G+ is simply better at this sort of thing – their Google! I know G+ has changed a lot in the last year and I have a front row seat for all the grumbling. But they are investing in there creators like no other platform right now. If you are thinking of making the jump I would recommend doing it sooner rather than later. Both Krash_Override and The Short News have started posting to G+ with great results. Crash was recently invited to become a “creator” and Sean’s site is a recommended collection. They are both gaining followers quickly. No over lord is perfect, but at least G+ values the creator, not the advertisers.

  2. Excellent post Shelly. I only have rude words in my mind right now.

    I was active originally on Flickr. I liked it there and they liked me too, I got to their Explore from time to time, and they even endorsed me by picking one of my photos to their best-of lists. Then, nothing. It’s been two and a half years and I got nothing. It’s a bit of a luxury problem though, because I’ve had so much, but the silence is palpable.

    Instagram was an easy breezy fun place when I started a few years ago. I try not to think of it that much, keeping the illusion of certain lightness of it all, but there is something about it that has bugged me lately. Maybe it’s the algorithm, maybe it’s the ads, I don’t know, I haven’t analyzed it but I feel I am not seeing what I want to see.

    G+, you say, huh? You’ve said many times it works for you before. Maybe I should see if there’s room for me too.

    • Im glad you liked my post. 😀

      I think its important to keep flexible on these social media platforms. They change, we change. Yes you did have a good run on Flickr- thats weird that is fell off to nothing. I had about six good months on their myself. I made it to explore myself on more than one occasion. Sure the viewers were their, but I never picked up any followers or made any connections. I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was.

      I think if you gave G+ another look I think you will find an amazing group of photographers interested in connecting and pursuing their craft. Sure there aren’t a lot of toy photographers, but thats ok, there is plenty to learn and be inspired by. And yes, there is plenty of space, even for you, my friend. 😀

      • Shelly,
        I’m sorry to hear about your breakup. I remember us talking platforms in the early days (OK, early days might be a stretch – it wasn’t that long ago!). To have a website or not – go where the people are – etc. I guess the discussion continues!

        I’m worried about Flickr – part of their slowdown is no doubt tied to the unfortunate downward spiral of their parent company, Yahoo. To top it off, Yahoo was just acquired by Verizon (officially by the start of 2017)…I’m not sure their gonna be a great cultivator of the arts.

        I was impressed by Google’s recent I/O meeting…maybe G+ is the way to go. Even better, maybe one of our toy photographer friends is an app developer and could whip us up an app to call home…I’d download a hot new app called Stuck in Plastic !


        • Yup, the same questions persist. And no, Flickr is not the answer. But even though its social media with very little traffic, the trade off is the work looks good.

          As someone who has the inside track, I would say that G+ is our best bet right now. They are throwing money at G+ (even though you can’t see the results yet) and they are laying the ground work for a big push.

          I think a stand alone platform for toy photographers would be awesome. I know we all would happily pay for a subscription service to defray costs. If you find the app developer I can help to get the project started.


        • Daniel

          There is an app called amino, which has loads of communities. The Bricks amino is a mix of inactive and ameturish content, and not much toy photography but there’s room for it!
          Best part – it has a curated section, but posts are selected by actual humans, and there is still a chronological feed underneath the featured posts.

  3. Great piece and great pic, too, Shelly. You said it all and you said so well, as usual. Thank you. I really miss the ease of seeing the pics of those I follow. I also miss the frequency with which people saw and found my feed. The community has been sorely damaged. Let’s hope Instagram gets its act together.

  4. fubiken/Stefan.K

    A very good post Shelly! IG is like a timemachine that’s broken. Don’t know how much I miss but guess a lot. I’m going away a few days but will check up G+ when I get home
    Hugs / Stefan

  5. Leila @brickandmordor

    Great post. Thankfully my IG feed doesn’t have ads yet, but there is something super lame about not seeing posts of people I’m following, and my posts not being seen. What’s the point? Is there an actual place to leave feedback/request stuff to the IG developers?

    As for G+, I created an account two years ago after your last rant, but haven’t done anything with it. Well, I did a few things, but quickly dropped it because I didn’t have time to manage yet another feed, and it was pretty confusing and overwhelming. (Three columns of STUFF on my G+ desktop feed.) It just seemed like I was seeing a ton of strangers on it posting and re-sharing. Why would I want to see the same thing in my feed multiple times by people I don’t even know? Did I subscribe to something? Would you be willing to do a brief demystifying of G+ for those of us who want to get started in the toy photography community there?

    Thank you!

    • Yeah I do seem to complain a lot about IG don’t I. 😀

      In the post there is a link to the original Instagram announcement on their blog. The comments are pretty nasty. They aren’t listing. This role out is for the marketers, not the users. This positions IG to be able to squeeze money out of their advertisers since they can’t schedule posts to hit at high traffic times. This isn’t about the user.

      Yeah G+ is its only little world. If its any consolation, if you upgrade to the new G+ you only have two columns of info. Dont post to communities. Thats were you start to see multiple images in a row.

      I will put together a little tutorial on G+, I think it has a lot to recommend it, but like all social media platforms, there is a learning curve. Look for it next week.

      Thanks for the comment and the excellent suggestion Leila. 😀

  6. Sean

    Spot on, Shelly. It’s sad when people feel the need to tell us that they know us better than we know ourselves. At times it really does feel like work going through my feed because Insta has made it that way. Very sad. But I’m happy we’re connected on G+ and chats etc Oh and I reckon James would be ok board with this. He sounds like he knows what’s what.

  7. I totally agree, I had the same feeling about Flickr and I ended up leaving. I was gutted I’d made so many friends but the community aspect was being eaten away by all the changes and intrusive advertising.
    I really hope that Instagram listen to feedback and rein in the changes they’re making. I have no problem with progress, but change for changes sake is ridiculous.

    • Thanks Em for sharing your experience with Flickr. Im terribly sorry you left, community is important. I can relate because I’m turning my back (ok maybe not complete) on that same type of community. I hear the same bitching on G+ about how it used to be. Flickr has its devotees that also say the same thing. The only glimmer of hope I see in G+ is that they say that they want to support the creators. So far they are enlisting opinions of the users and incorporating their requests whenever possible. I find that more encouraging than what FB did to Instagram.

  8. Pulup

    Well said Shelly..
    I liked Instagram a lot, I still do. I was just hoping that this day wouldn’t come. I’ve been here for so many years, spent (invested) a lot of time and effort, so that I don’t want to go somewhere else. But then, maybe that’s what the Instagram is counting on..
    Hope to see you back from time to time..
    Oh, and, one more thing: break-up letters are out, you should’ve texted them 🙂

    • Lol, You’re right, what was a thinking? Obviously Im showing my age.

      Yes, I don’t like turning my back on nearly five years invested into this community and my own word. But I feel like the proverbial frog in the frying pan. They keep ratcheting up the heat little by little making it harder and harder to connect and be seen. I don’t want to be the last one hanging on for dear life thinking the good old days will come back. 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment, yes it really is a horrible update. I also follow over 500 people but IG only lets me see a fraction of there posts. Makes it hard to be an active member of the community. So sad 🙁

  9. I completely share your concerns about the Instagram feed. Since the feed update I had very little motivation to check Instagram. I’ve never been fond of it and only joined because there was much more toy photography content there than on Flickr. But I managed to use it on a daily basis without too much frustration by using third party websites that allowed me to browse my feed on my laptop in a not too unpleasant way. Now I only check a few dozens pictures when I upload a photo or when I’m really bored and don’t know what to do. Same thing happened with Facebook a few years ago and now I’m only checking it once every few weeks.

    (Still I wonder, was Instagram ever a place designed for photographers to share their work? I’m not saying it can’t be used as such but I’ve always seen it as the hipster/selfie place, and now that it’s threatened being superseded I’m not really surprised that they try to look like Snapchat. I might also just be older in my mind than I actually am and kind of trapped in the past…)

  10. This is one of the reasons I’m not on social media that much (I’m only on twitter, and not that active)… i dislike the fact that other decide on your experience and there is nothing you can do about it when you dislike changes.

    • That really is the crux of the problem – ceding control to someone else. It’s the same problem photographers have run into selling their work on third party sites – someone else has ultimate control. I guess I hit a wall on letting someone else control who sees my content – it simply rubs me the wrong way. Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot because now no-on on IG will see my work. But I have a suspicion it will make no difference, and anything the time freed up to be productive will more than make up for this decision. It’s a shame that artists are at the whim of these large corporations.

      Is there anyway to subscribe to your comic? That would really help me to stay on top of your posts. Im simply not on Twitter enough to stay connected and I’d like to follow the new comic. 🙂

      • You’ve got a busy and engaged community over here already, so that’s already cool.
        Thanks for following the comic, btw! New episodes are published every Tuesday and every Saturday… I don’t have a following system in place, but I will look into that and let you know!

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