As an Artist
I admit that I’m already missing the lovely visual appeal of Instagram. Some folks take it to the next level, mapping out their daily posts to reveal a larger puzzle image for viewers’ enjoyment (like @wildalder on Instagram). Some have the aesthetic sensibility for designing a product on Instagram. They’ve found their visual style and know how to market it well.
I think Instagram becomes a place that rewards the top performers for visual consistency and appeal. And for a sense of branding. Maybe I even mean “branding” in both senses of the word. Since followers tend to expect consistent content, it becomes a rather permanent mark on that person—something hard to change.
So why did I drop Instagram? Primarily because it’s owned by Facebook. The real beef I have is with Facebook. And Instagram is part of what bankrolls Facebook. Plus, I’m just undisciplined enough to resist making a consistent brand, look, or post. And I like it that way.
As a Content Creator
When I open Instagram, I often feel simultaneously impressed and intimidated with the content paired with visual appeal. Maybe I have a case of imposter-itis? But I think if I feel that as an adult approaching 50 then how would a self-conscious pre-teen or teen feel about this platform?
Twitter is an easier-to-use platform for writing than Instagram. Sure, the character limit is frustrating, but there are ways to share more writing (using jpgs of your longer poems, for example). For me it can be an exercise in editing and paring down what I want to say to its most essential parts. So that limitation of characters can be helpful.
Twitter is better for giving proper attribution to visuals and text since I can easily “retweet” other people’s content I enjoy. I never figured out how to do that in Instagram.
As a Parent
I don’t like to feel like I’ve been put in a box by what I present to the public. But social media platforms tend to do just that. I am an introvert, so I am rather self-conscious. I tend to evaluate what I post perhaps more than I should. I don’t want to be popular, but I still seek kinship, approval, and validation. Why? That’s a whole series of blog posts.
So as a grown woman using social media for the first time once my children were teens, I can attest to the addictive power of a platform that gives me validation through likes with people I may never be in the same room with. If I feel that way, then how is a pre-teen or teen going to feel about this platform?
I am grateful that I didn’t use social media when I was a young parent. I’m not sure what that might have done to me? I think it might have compounded my loneliness. I struggled with anxiety during those times. I still do.
To the credit of social media used well, it can be a powerful force to:
Do easy creative expression
Reach out to people in a similar situation at any time throughout the day
But I am a person who is discovering the addictive qualities of social media. I have felt the pull to be at my screen throughout the day. I think my concentration has suffered. It's harder to get through a full yoga routine. On a bad day, I might have spent more time at the screen to my detriment. I don’t wish that on children.
My husband is tech savvy. I agree with his thought that the ethics of technology’s use generally runs far behind the widespread use of technology. This applies to social media platforms. Do we even know what algorithms control the content pushed our way in the margins? Do we have much of any idea which people are suggested to us? I have noticed that I need to make a concerted effort to check myself when I get triggered, reactive, and angry about what gets served to me on social media. I am working on that.
Next up, I will be reflecting on why I left Facebook. Thanks for listening. I hope you’ll share your thoughts too. I appreciate that a friend of mine already shared that she supported my decision but wants to continue to use Instagram for her own reasons.
My watercolor and ink study of a photograph of Animal from Jim Henson's Muppets.