Let me start this off in a very “shaking my fist at the sky in a bathrobe on my front porch while yelling GET OFF MY LAWN” way. I’ve been an Instagram user since it was a photo-sharing app that let people who enjoyed taking photos share them, and people who enjoyed looking at photos see them.
Damn, am I getting old, or is there not beauty in that kind of simplicity?
Unless you’ve been inhabiting the underside of a moldy piece of plywood, you know Instagram ain’t a photo-sharing app no mo‘.
I ditched Facebook years ago because scrolling my feed started feeling like voluntarily soaking my psyche in a rusty bucket of toxic sludge.
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As I 110% have the worst attitude imaginable about all things Meta and 120% barrel my peepers into the ass-end of my grey matter any time its mentioned, you can imagine my dismay when Meta swallowed Instagram.
Still, I shoved my hairy, saw-toothed attitude back into its steel shackles and give Meta another chance.
Would I continue to enjoy being an Instagram user once it was subjected to the Meta non-chronological cookie-cutter content hamster wheel algorithm of doom?
The answer I’ve come to is a thunderous absolutely. fawking. not.
So I’m here to dear diary-out my fee-fees about it because there are artists out there sifting through the ether of Google wondering if anyone else feels this way and I need them to know they’re not the only ones quitting Instagram.
The TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version is:
- Instagram has had a negative effect on my mental health. Specifically, my attention span and my creativity. It makes me feel constantly overwhelmed.
- This app has eleventy-one things to keep up with for little reward. As a small creator, you’re constantly fighting to have your work seen.
- I have noticed a trend of creators not supporting other creators on this app and I am not here for it.
- Content on Instagram has a short shelf life and they have no interest in protecting it.
Still with me? Want more details? Slingshot thy eyeballs downward. 👇🏼
Attention span, creativity, and overwhelm
Instagram has negatively affected my mental health in three ways: attention span, creativity, and overwhelm.
Scrolling through a feed that never ends has eaten away at my attention span. I’ve found myself drawn back into checking Instagram and unable to just sit with my own thoughts, which is a little scary.
I had initially told myself I was keeping the app to not only share my work, but to see and support the work of other artists.
But art is meant to be viewed for longer than a few seconds while scrolling by on an electronic device. And trying to make art that stands out in the feed brings me to how this app has been a detriment to my creativity.
Trying to make art that looks good on a tiny screen and is interesting enough to capture the attention of someone scrolling by has affected my creativity.
I’ve found myself not only creating art that fits the square format of Instagram, but stuck in an endless loop of trying to make it attention-catching as well.
I’ve also noticed myself being way too influenced by the work of other artists, which is no bueno. And I spend too much time trying to write a great caption, post at the “correct” times, and pick the right hashtags.
The recent push to make Reels has made me feel boxed in rather than liberated to create. Not every video looks good in a 9:16 aspect ratio. And shouldn’t we be railing against the shortening of our attention spans, not just accepting it as if its inevitable and out of our control?
The hamburger meat of my attention span and the shrinking of my creativity leads me to the next thing aggravating the stew out of me: overwhelm.
Instagram has the features of what, at least three other apps now? And you’re made to feel that to be successful, you have to do it all.
On top of creating 17 different kinds of content in 23 different formats in very specific ways, there are comments to respond to and DMs to read.
Oh, and because they don’t seem to give a shit about protecting their users you also have to wade through the horse mess of bots and scammers following you, impersonating you, and sending you messages. More on that later.
It adds up fast and I’m “Reel”ing from the pressure.
Repetitive, shallow content
While I have enjoyed well-designed, thoughtful artwork on Instagram, only repetitive content seems to do well on the platform. Ever heard the same song 83 times on Reels? The one that doesn’t even work with the content being shown? Yep.
And yes, you can post content that isn’t repetitive. But as Julia Bausenhardt so eloquently puts it in her post on this subject, you can only engage with it in shallow ways.
Instagram has become a lonely, antisocial place where creators don’t support other creators. You can spend weeks feeding content into the hungry hungry hippo that is Instagram and see very little reward for your effort.
Instagram, security, and content integrity
Recently, someone I follow had a scammer impersonating them. The impersonator made an account that looked just like the legit account with 001 at the end of the username. They started messaging the followers of the legit account and tried getting personal information from them.
Luckily, the owner of the legit account noticed what was going on quickly. Unluckily, when they reported the scam account to Instagram, they refused to remove it. They only removed it when several followers of the legit account reported the account as a scammer.
I have a hard time believing that a company that makes billions of dollars a year with technology so advanced they can target ads to me on things I’ve only expressed private interest in is powerless to control bots and scammers on their platform.
And their refusal to protect users and their content doesn’t make me excited to continue putting my artwork on Instagram.
In summary, I’d like to do more creating and less consuming. I think it will make me a better artist and a happier human.
While I’m not shunning social media completely, I’ll be spending my time on platforms that don’t make me miserable.
So if you’re an artist who’s feeling “meh” about Instagram or social media, know that you’re not alone, and there’s nothing wrong with you.
And if you’re someone who uses Instagram and loves it, I love that for you. This post isn’t meant to talk you out of using it, only to say that it isn’t working for me.
Thank you for reading, following, and supporting me and my work. 💚