Becoming disillusioned with social media is a topic I’m hearing about more and more – we know that spending hours everyday glued to these platforms isn’t a healthy habit, but at the same time, staying connected with friends and loved ones through these channels is so gratifying. How do we strike a sound balance?
For me, that balance came from deleting the Instagram app from my phone, but allowing myself time to spend on Facebook.
Personally, I feel a more human connection on Facebook. The platform provides a more organic way to start a conversation in the comments section of a post, whereas on Instagram most of the comments are emojis, solicitations for “follows”, and innocuous compliments. I also prefer Facebook’s “reactions” to Instagram’s “likes”. Again, the reactions feel more human to me. The person took time to look at the post, feel something, and choose a reaction. On Instagram, the likes feel more hollow. Double-tap. Double-tap. The only meaning gained is from how many likes there are.
Facebook is also more useful. I enjoy the recommendations feature; it’s how I found out from my network of real friends which spots to visit in Tokyo and which beauty products to buy! I also like reading and responding to others’ requests for recommendations. My network also shares interesting links to articles and blog posts. Instagram is an image-driven platform and the only links I’ve come across are to sponsored posts and ads.
Everyone in my Facebook network is a friend (or at least a friend of a friend 🙂 ), but on Instagram I follow and am followed by people I don’t really give a shit about. Brands, “fitness gurus” who make us all feel bad about ourselves, random photographers, 13-year-olds who look like 30-year-olds, and salt bae. As fun as these accounts can be to follow, I really don’t derive any meaningful interactions from them.
The worst grievance I have with Instagram is the follower culture. This may be a blogger-specific gripe – I doubt any of my friends IRL actually care about how many followers they have. To be a successful blogger = a larger following. Bloggers with large followings are able to make a living from their blogging alone. They receive PR packages (free stuff), partner with brands, and make money from their posts.
I find follower culture abhorrent. Buying followers, bombarding accounts with “follow-for-follow” messages, and all the other “tactics” used on Instagram just feel so desperate and sad to me. I guess bloggers who run their accounts as businesses have to play the game. But placing value on what is essentially a glorified popularity contest can be a dangerous game to play.
This all brings me to the reason why I decided to delete the app from my phone. It was a few months ago when I was going through a hard time, and whenever I would open the app I would feel sad and empty and fake. It wasn’t really FOMO (fear of missing out), because I had plenty of glamorous pictures to share and match the other glamorous pictures filling my feed. It was that if I shared any of those pictures, it would mean presenting a total façade. Sure, I could post more gorgeous pictures of Tokyo, or the wonderful dates Azim took me on, or the cute outfits I was wearing. That would also mean posting a lighthearted caption and pretending everything was great. The last thing I was feeling was lighthearted. It made me wonder how many other people posting snippets of their fabulous lives were actually feeling as down in the dumps as I was.
Things have turned around for me, but I don’t miss Instagram at all. That’s not to say that I’ll stay off the app forever – I may be able to find a balance that works for me in the future, but for now I just don’t feel the need. I much more enjoy the time I’ve gained back to finish my goal of reading 35 books this year…oh and binging the entirety of Downton Abbey 🙂
If you have any positive or negative experiences with Instagram or any other social media platforms, I’d love to hear them! Let me know what you think.
Disclaimer: I have had to re-log in to Instagram for two purposes:
- My best friend who moved to Australia sends me video messages in a group chat setting on Instagram. This isn’t as seamless of an experience on Facebook unfortunately L
- My other best friend is an entrepreneur – she owns and runs her own salon called The Retreat. I’m so proud of her and I love seeing all the creative nail art designs on her Instagram feed. If you live in Toronto and you’re looking for your next bomb manicure, make sure you check her out!!
As always, thank you so much for reading xoxo