If you’re already saying that Instagram isn’t toxic, then I’m going to assume you’re either too far down the rabbit hole, you’re an influencer afraid to lose influence and who has no problem feeding off of someone’s addiction to their phone, or you just aren’t aware that this is a problem. But indeed, it’s a condition that can drain you and fill your life with a lot of darkness. Take it from a guy who has to keep social media around in order to keep running a large photography blog. Though social media is less and less of our traffic due to their efforts to keep you on their platform, we have to admit it’s sort of important to us. Further, lots of us rely on Instagram as photographers. So here’s how I went about making it less toxic.
Turn off Notifications
The first thing you should attempt is turning off notifications. Not only does this save your phone’s battery life but it also means that you’re going to actively want to go into the app without it notifying you about something happening. Of course, you may still browse when you’re bored or want to talk to someone, but it’s the first step of a compound process. This entire detox is cumulative and you’ll need to follow through and make commitments to yourself.
“…go through stories and your feed and unfollow certain accounts that you don’t really care about.”
Hide the App
Lots of folks keep the app easily and readily available on their home screen. Don’t do this. Put it into a folder. In fact, put it into an area in the folder where you need to flip through to get to it. Furthermore, think about the way you hold the phone. If you want to go even further, put it in a specific place where it’s sort of awkward for you to get to the app with one hand use. The idea here is that when you open your phone and look at the screen, you won’t be greeted by the app. It will be hidden amongst other things.
“…it’s the first step of a compound process.”
Realize When You Close It and Reopen It
This is a very personal one–or at least I thought so until I heard of other photographers saying the same thing. Have you ever found yourself closing down Instagram and then reopening it? Yeah, it’s nuts. This is when you should just go do something else. I’ve taken playing the bass and the violin back up. Sometimes I go read, write in my journal, find a chore to do around my apartment that I’ve been putting off, clean, etc. Seriously, just go do something else.
Unfollowing accounts has become a big trend as of late. The idea here is to actively go through stories and your feed and unfollow certain accounts that you don’t really care about. On my personal Instagram, I have a process of unfollowing people or accounts I don’t know, aren’t active, aren’t important to me, or that give me too much of one stimulus that I can get on another app instead. I follow a number of models I’ve worked with, models I want to work with, photographers, hashtags, gear feeds, food, dogs, and tea houses. Certain models, I’ve unfollowed simply because they create stuff that is purposely designed to make me look more at them. It’s natural of both genders.
Sometimes it’s best to cut the head off the snake.
Try Other Sources of Content
If you’re going to Instagram for certain things, consider other sources. For example, Flipboard and Feedly gives us a ton of traffic and I can follow a number of different news sources with curated feeds just for me. But then there are just genuinely other interesting things. Here are some of my favorites:
- Apple News
- The NYTimes
- The New Yorker Magazine
- The British Journal of Photography
Yes, Digg. A few months ago I started going back to it and exploring what I find. It’s not as awesome as it was in 2008, but it’s functional and often gives me stuff that doesn’t even reach me in other apps due to algorithms.
And lastly, commit to doing something better for yourself. You deserve it.