I was inspired by Reviews Editor Paul Ip to take a year off from my personal Instagram.
Instagram is toxic, and it’s a terrible platform for photography and photographers. That’s really all I need to say. It’s more designed for someone to stay on the platform and for them to sell you advertising. Can you get gigs from it? Sure. But, you can also get gigs from having a robust website. Anyone looking to spend money on your creative services will do a fuller exploration of the type of work you do beyond your Instagram. I’ve got two Instagram accounts: The Phoblographer’s and my own. Dan Ginn runs most of the operations for the site’s Instagram account, and my personal account underwent changes over the past year. I purposely cut down the number of people I was following to under 100. It helped me focus on specific people when it comes to stories and the fuller feed. I’d get notifications that I was at the end of the feed, and that meant I could close the app and move on to something else. The urge to stay in the app and check out other things was real, but I fought it. And now I’m taking that even further.
First off, maybe I should explain a few things about me:
- To fight obesity, I took a year off of alcohol
- A year off of alcohol meant that I ate more healthily by the nature of things. America’s relationship with alcohol is more toxic than it used to be
- I started an active lifestyle of indoor cycling, yoga, and photo walking
- I lost 30lbs in a year
- During this entire time, I was training for the Guinness World Record in spicy pepper eating to push myself further mentally
- When all this was over, I went on to other things
- I took a year off of dating apps, and I got my life back along with most of my confidence
- Right now I’m taking another year off of dating apps, personal purchases, and my own Instagram
Why am I doing all of these things? Well, they’re all linked to a specific problem that’s endlessly compounded and complicated.
- Instagram and Facebook listen to you and check out your browsing habits
- They use that data for advertising and make you impulsive to buy things
- When you cut them off, they don’t know what to do and they have less control over you
- You adapt and go back to other methods of putting yourself out there as a creative
- You also adjust and don’t feed into personal temptations
- You don’t lose your network. If you’re someone who genuinely cares about people, you’ll reach out and not be a jerk
- Or, they’ll reach out
Giving yourself challenges means that you don’t have to rely on something as a crutch. And that translates into your personal life too. By not worrying about my own Instagram, I can focus on other methods to bring in business and just being creative. Let’s be honest; Instagram doesn’t care about me, or you, or about the influencer with hundreds of thousands of followers. They care about ensuring they can advertise to you and get money from the companies paying for advertising. When you play the Instagram game, you’re playing into an algorithm. They want you to keep producing so that you stay in front of everyone. I know a few people who post all the time, and I ended up muting them or unfollowing them because they became very annoying to me. A former contributor blew up at me a long time ago because I unfollowed her on Instagram. This is something people obsess over a lot.
So, what else am I using besides Instagram?
“I know a few people who post all the time, and I ended up muting them or unfollowing them because they became very annoying to me.”
- Tumblr: This is an occasional one, to be honest. But it’s a source of creative inspiration for me. Instagram gave me inspiration, but it was never as good as the feed Tumblr offered. Tumblr’s use of hashtags is far better than Instagram’s, and you actually get to see them in your feed.
- Reddit: A source of news, inspiration, memes, etc. I was on Reddit anyway and have been using it for over 10 years. Reddit will show you pretty much everything.
- Feedly: One of the best ways to curate news for your own consumption. I used to use Google Reader, and Feedly is what I used after that. I can follow websites there for content I actually care about. Again, you see everything, and you just section things off.
- Flipboard: Another great way to read the news and look into your interests. Flipboard’s smart magazines are fantastic, but so are the actual magazines within it.
- Facebook: I never left Facebook. I use this more for personal reasons.
- Behance: I’m on Behance a few times a week for inspiration. You get the full feed, again.
Some of you may be saying, “Chris, you’re replacing one app for others.” Not exactly. I was using these to begin with, because Instagram never really did anything for me. In fact, I’ve started culling down the accounts that Phoblographer follows to ensure that our feeds are very well targeted and curated.