As some of you may know, I suspended my Instagram account a week ago. I did this on the spur of the moment; I’d simply had enough.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that by suspending my account I was actually taking control of Instagram and my social media experience.
A firehose of content
Instagram is like a firehose of continuous content. All those images, experiences and stories are constantly demanding my attention. Back in the day, the community was smaller and everyone knew everyone else. Also, before the change in the algorithm, you would always know when you had seen everything new. At some point you would start seeing images that you had already liked. This system gave me a sense of having seen all my friends’ images. I felt a sense of completeness.
These days, I never know what I’m going to see on any given day. Freshly uploaded posts and images that are two days old are often seen side by side. This gives me anxiety; a sense of missing out. I’m always wondering what fabulous images I’m missing? I want to support my community and friends by liking and commenting on their images. But I can’t do this if I don’t see them.
So even though I’m seeing a constant stream of images that often feel like a firehose of continuous content, I cant help but think I’m missing something. This experience is both overwhelming and unrewarding.
The accidental solution
I have a couple of Instagram friends that periodically shut down their accounts for personal reasons. One day their account is there and the next their isn’t; no explanation. I’ve always been a little jealous of their ability to do this. Until recently I didn’t think I could bring myself to do this too. I have obligations; a blog to run and Instagram is part of my personal business plan. One friend’s reaction reveled my worst fears to my decision to unplug:
WHAT??? Have you lost your mind??? u ok?
No, I have not lost my mind, I’ve never been saner. But who knew that simply suspending my account would give me back my life. Up until last week I’ve felt like a slave to Instagram. I have to post. I have to like and comment on photos from friends and community members. It has been a long time since participating on Instagram has given me pleasure.
What I found by temporary deleting my account was a sense of peace and freedom. After the first day of slight disorientation, I felt a lightness. I was in control and it felt good! The solution may have been accidental, but turning off that firehose for a week felt really good! Being in control of my own destiny also felt really good!
A slower pace
When I read and reviewed Austin Kleon’s latest book: Keep Going it really inspired me to examine the creative choices I’m currently making. His examples of a simpler creative life was inspiring to me. I’ve reached a crossroads in my life: Quality is now more important than quantity. Quality takes time to produce. Being a slave to Instagram does not allow me the opportunity to slow down and get those images out of my head and onto paper.
While I may come and go from Instagram in the foreseeable future, I’m still active on Flickr and MeWe. The communities I belong to on these platforms are small and they don’t feel overwhelming. Just my speed!
On these smaller platforms I’m not exhausted by a firehose of media coming at me. Everything is more managable. I can post an image and check back in a day and know that no one will be disappointed that I didn’t respond instantly. This slower pace fits my current lifestyle perfectly.
I can’t hide forever
I know I can’t hide forever. I’m the LEGO Ambassador for the Women’s Brick Initiative and we have a very heady month ahead of us. Besides collaborating with BrickCentral on a contest featuring images of women minifigures, we have a workshop at the Skærbæk Fan Weekend, (DK) and another in Seattle (USA) the following weekend. Its important to me that I use all my platforms to help get the word out about all the fabulous work we’re doing!
While I can’t leave Instagram permanently, I can (and will) disappear again. Now that I know that I can turn off Instagram for a day, a week or a month I feel that I have taken back control of my social media life. In the future I will continue to play online, but on my terms.
If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by your Instagram feed or your social media obligations, why not temporarily cut the Instagram cord? Simply close your account for a week or a month and see what happens. If you’re like me, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. While this might seem like an extreme way to deal with social media addiction, it’s been surprisingly effective.
If this temporary cold turkey method sounds appealing, you can find the “disable button” in your profile under “edit.” From there, you are asked to choose from a drop down menu the reason that most closely resembles why you’re temporarily closing your account. My favorites are “too busy / too distracting” and “just need a break.” These options showed me that I wasn’t alone. Even a self-confessed Instagram junkie like me needs a break now and then.
Have you ever closed your Instagram account either permanently or temporarily? How did this work out for you? Would you do it again? Would you recommend this course of action to others? Tell me your story in the comments.
To all my friends who reached to ask what happened, thank you. I’ve already apologized to my dear friend Brett who took the brunt of those inquiries. In the future, if you’re ever wondering where I’ve disappeared to, you can find me on MeWe (my favorite social media backwater) or Flickr. On Instagram you might also be able to find me working the Women’s Brick Initiative or the Toy Photographers pages. I might be able to hide occasionally, but I don’t think I will ever be able to escape completely.