This summer I decided to uninstall Instagram from my iPhone for the month of August and see what, if anything, I'd miss by not having quick access to the app.
I struggle with Facebook's collection of data and their garbage fire model of business in general, but for me the biggest struggle was just the time I'd waste watching through Stories. Between my personal account (private but you can find me here) and my business account (@LemonProductionsCA) and the various people and businesses I follow, I could easily eat up an hour a day just keeping up with Stories.
A lot of my Instagram use before I uninstalled it was down to muscle memory. Got a few moments to kill while waiting for the hot water to boil? Check Instagram. Waiting for a podcast to export? Check Instagram. Sitting and waiting for your daughter to drift off to sleep? Check Instagram - with the sound off of course!
And similarly on the creative side of the app, I would often feel the need or desire to post something to my Story or as a collection of photos. Nothing really wrong with that, except when it becomes compulsive and knee-jerk whenever something interesting or humorous was going on around me and I'd reach for my iPhone to share it with the world.
How I Survived August without Instagram permalink
Obviously it was just fine. No big revelations or shockers.
For the first week, I found myself reaching for my iPhone. And when we were on a camping trip or summer get away of some sort, I'd think "I should share this on Instagram." - but instead of following through with that, I'd just take a few photos or a video and then put my phone away.
Eventually I found myself posting a few more pictures to my Twitter page than I would normally, maybe for a bit of that "social media buzz" of likes or replies that I was missing. And thanks to the kids getting drawn into Messenger for Kids by friends and needing to sell things on Facebook Marketplace, I got pulled back into Facebook as well.
I'm sure I missed out on things friends had posted. Important life events as well as "having a coffee" posts. And I'm sad to have missed those, especially on my personal account.
I didn't miss any of the feeling of inadequacy that viewing other photos or Stories brought on for me. I can really struggle with jealousy of what other's get to experience or have, and the polished, shiny view of life that a lot of people present on Instagram doesn't help. I think following less - and ultimately not using the app at all - would be a net positive for my mental health in the long run.
But I love getting to play with the tech! So what's a nerd with self esteem and validation issues to do?!
What I've decided I'm going to do for September is reinstall the Instagram app on my iPhone and use it again. But instead of dooming myself to dive right back into old habits, I'm going to unfollow pretty much every account my business account follows in a very much "it's not you, it's me" fashion.
My business account follows a lot of local businesses as well as apps and services in the podcast industry, and I'd like to be able to keep up with what they're doing. But the reality is that I already get that news on Twitter, blogs I read, and email newsletters I subscribe to. It's the business accounts that go crazy with posting both a story about a new IG post and then a new IG post about the Story update, and the circle goes around and around.
I've decided to stay subscribed to anyone that seems to actually make stuff with their hands. Real world stuff: wood workers, coffee grinders, painters, home builders. I see and dig into enough digital things all day, and I really value being reminded of creating outside of the computer + internet box - as much as I love doing it.
I might also prune my personal account following list - but the folks I follow there don't have nearly the same volume of Story updates and posts as the businesses do.
Let the Pruning Begin permalink
As I post this before I start, I currently follow 355 accounts and have 381 followers on my business page and I follow 151 accounts and have 292 followers on my personal page. The marketing / tech brain in me says "If you unfollow everyone, you can't show engagement and therefore Instagram won't reward you with more followers" but maybe that's ok? I got three new clients in August that had nothing to do with what I was (or in this case, wasn't) posting on Instagram.
Will you join me in unfollow September? We can make it a thing and just all shout into the void. 😉