DEAR INSTAGRAM, 5 REASONS WHY YOU GOT ME IN A FUNK
I’m actually OK with it all now but recently, I ‘suffered’ from what can only be scientifically described as a massive ‘funk’!
Look. I’m alive and healthy; I have a loving family around me (you know, all the important shizzle!) and yet here I was stuck in a heavy state of feeling nothing but flat.
Nothing felt ‘right’ or ‘good enough’ but I couldn’t quite pinpoint, why, exactly?
I’d wake up worrying that somehow, somewhere along the line, I’d just got things all so fucking wrong.
And then, as I was trying to work out why I was feeling so frazzled about EVERYTHING, I slowly narrowed it down to one thing…
Now, I know it’s an app.
I’m a big girl now. I’m 41, FFS!
I’ve even read the amazing book by Catherine Price ‘How to Break Up With Your Phone’ and blogged its brilliance here.
Perhaps, I should have known better…
Yet, I still fell hard for its charms in a relentless mission (along with many others) to try and crack the Insta’ algorithm nut.
The irony being, I ended up crackers, instead!
Yup, Instagram was the root to my melancholy mood swings.
And it’s not that I even wanted to be ‘Insta Famous’ which many had started to think, perhaps.
Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything worse!
So, I tried to identify what it was about the app that was making me feel shit because there was a time once, when I was quite happy using Instagram, posting my random mix of pics. You know the ones…
Me & the kids #Blessed
Happy Holidays #ItsShitHere
Malbec at the end of the week #FriYay
Oh look! I got a Slowpoke #PokemonGo
Whatever I was doing, eating or drinking was photographed and uploaded along with a mildly funny/ sarcastic caption and hashtag.
I loved taking the photos, being creative, curating an aesthetically pleasing grid and I didn’t give a crap how many likes or comments I got.
Fast forward 18 months later and I find myself debating whether to leave and delete the app entirely.
“Why? What’s your reasoning?” one follower commented when I suggested this recent funk was making me ponder the need for Insta’ in my life.
Well, let me tell you…
1 IT’S JUST NOT FUN ANYMORE
IMHO, Instagram can feel like a massive popularity contest and in order to succeed (ie: have a large following, loads of likes and comments) you need to be on the app, all frickin’ day long. That is just not my idea of fun. End of.
2 YOU BEGIN TO MEASURE YOUR SUCCESS IN NUMBERS
When you’re spending hours scrolling and clocking how many likes and comments your last post gets, you start to measure your success by this, alone.
You know it’s wrong, but YOU DO!
You know that your worth is more than looking for validation from other people using the app – but somehow, it just sucks you in!
You watch your follower count go up – and down.
You’re popular. Hurra! Oh wait. No one likes you. Hang on! You’re popular again. Oh no, that post bombed – they don’t. Gah!
My life doesn’t begin and end on Instagram. I know that! Sort it out F.T!
3 IT’S SO TIME CONSUMING
Making your feed look good is hard work and it takes time.
I’m not just talking about whacking on photo filters. As a stylist, I actually really like the post-production process of colour balancing and editing photographs, then laying them out aesthetically on the grid – but man, it’s so time consuming!
As a friend constructively commented “Just make sure that you’re not missing out on the good stuff in life, whilst trying to get your grid looking great.”
I was spending far too much time on the app trying to create the perfect image – don’t even get me started with the caption!
As an over-thinker, it can sometimes take me ages to decide what to say. Plus, being a journo’ and a stickler for grammar and punctuation, I’ll proof read my caption, then bash myself up if a typo does slip in (which you can edit afterwards but I was advised not to as that can mess up the algorithm making your post less visible on the ‘Explore’ page, gah! See what I mean! UTTERLY OBSESSED!)
4 IT’S ALL PHONEY
Despite Instagram’s best efforts, there are still lots of automated ‘bot’ accounts and people still buy followers and likes and use apps that can automatically do the commenting for you within the first crucial 15 minutes of posting (which allegedly helps boost your account).
But, seriously, what’s the point if it’s not real engagement?
So you’ve got 25,000 followers – but they’re all accounts in Lagos.
You live in Ladbroke Grove and post daily about your very expensive wardrobe.
I don’t get it? Where’s the sense in that?
If your plan is to get paid by luxury brands, who’ll approach you because of your gazillion followers, then pay you to advertise their product – surely they’ll see that you pushed ZERO SALES because no one in Lagos wanted to buy a cashmere jumper so Mr Cashmere will put his budget elsewhere next time, innit?
It’s so short term not to mention massively misleading.
5 BEATING THE ALGORITHM MAKES YOU GO BONKERS
The more active you are on the app, the more visible you become, which in turn means you’re seen by tons more accounts and you grow and grow and grow. Quickly.
There are tons of unwritten ‘rules’ to ‘actively engage’ on Instagram to keep the algorithm on side – heck, I’ve even done a few courses that explain ways to ‘beat’ the algorithms and make them work in your favour.
I’m not going to list them here but I will write a separate blog post on the courses I would recommend. If you use social media for business, it’s worth knowing the basics, at least.
While I’ve never bought likes or followers (you can see that quite clearly from my Instagram account – it’s slow grow with genuine engagement from my followers) I have dabbled with a few things that were suggested to help the numbers grow, quicker…
In a bid to grow and being solely driven by the numbers game, I began to forget the real reasons why I was using this platform and fell down a dark Insta’ hole.
I only realised how bad it got when I noticed how my moods would be triggered by how well or badly a post was recieved.
I was either:
A pig in shit when a post got tons of likes!
Melancholy as fuck when a post bombed!
Instagram was like crack! (I imagine! How’s that for a Daily Mail headline?)
How did it get to this?
My first waking thought was Instagram.
How dark is that?
So, whilst I debated whether to delete the app, I had a bit of a break from it and seriously started to question why I logged onto it in the first place.
I’d recommend anyone who’s feeling similar to how I felt, to do the same.
First thing’s first.
For me, Instagram has become a business tool.
It’s not purely for ‘fun’ or for photographic updates for my relatives and friends abroad to see me and the family – that’s what my personal Facebook account is for, innit? And birthday reminders, too!
As a freelance stylist, writer and now digital content creator, I guess Instagram is my portfolio. I’m visible to the industry, to my peers and I get paid work because of this.
Last year, when I decided to go digital after nearly two-decades working in print journalism and launched my blog, I knew that Instagram would be the perfect platform to point people to it.
Instagram would act as a micro-site, to lead readers to my third baby, my website, this here blog – The FT Times.
And finally, it’s my way of networking too.
Instagram has allowed me to connect with some amazing, inspirational people (many of them women) that I would never have met otherwise, in real life.
Without Instagram, I’d never have met Sunita from Lucky Things and the project we’re working on, My Style Triangle, might never have happened.
I’m not demonising the app – far from it. It’s a bloody great way of connecting.
Social media has allowed us to cross time zones and communicate across the globe. But that’s where it stops for me. After that connection is made, whether it’s with a brand or an individual, I am so old skool, I want to meet-up in real life.
As human beings, I honestly believe that we need this interaction.
It’s something social media cannot give.
And this was probably why I was feeling so flat…but ironically, the buzz was there all along; in getting off the grid and going out for coffee or fizz with a new or old (Insta) friend and filling up our hearts and minds with the true beauty of in real life, itself.
Don’t you think?
Hope to see you there for a pre-Crimbo chats and bubbles!
Thanks for reading.