Why I Quit Instagram.

I’ve lost track of how long it has been, but a while ago I created my personal Instagram account. It was something I started mainly as a way of staying in touch with friends and family overseas. While Facebook is still a popular option, one could say that Instagram is one of the fastest growing apps and one that people my age (26) gravitate to the most.

I rarely posted to my personal account, but I did spend time scrolling through the black hole of the explore page. I was presented with cat videos and “instamodels” galore, but my interests also led me to search for movie and comic-book related material. Soon enough, I started following a diverse group of actors, authors and artists. I wanted to avoid the narcissistic side of Instagram, with its selfies and workout videos, and take in the real talent that the platform had to offer. I also knew that I wanted to share my own thoughts on comics and movies, just like I did on my blog and my other social media accounts.

I have never been the kind of person to get 30 likes on a facebook profile picture, so I decided that I couldn’t pursue my interests through my personal Instagram account. Thus, @moviegrapevine was born. I enjoyed the freedom to embrace my geekiness in all its glory, attracting other like-minded people and becoming part of a community that was an audience for my writing and also motivated me creatively. I later followed up with a second account specifically for my creative writing, @wmoviegrapevine.

The purpose of the Instagram accounts was to direct more traffic to my blog and my YouTube channel. I became hypnotized by likes, and the odd comment, thinking that this surely equated to more readership and more views. It was actually Twitter that made me realize the truth. I have posted links to articles before. Three likes, so I must have three views on the article. I then check the article’s stats, and the article has no views. Even with a less visual medium, people still like or even retweet material that they have not truly engaged with. A like on Twitter or Instagram does not equal another view of your base: the blog, YouTube channel etc. that Instagram is intended to be a funnel for.

Of course this seems obvious now, and I was never naive enough to think that everyone liking my posts was also reading my blog. However, I had a small group of followers who consistently liked my posts and there was the assumption that they must be reading my material. However, the analytics for my site made it clear that wasn’t true. That harsh truth also made me look at my own behaviour on Instagram. There were plenty of accounts I followed, and consistently liked, that had their own related sites or videos. I always said that I would check out their content, and then I never did. This wasn’t due to any apathy or malice on my part, it was simply due to the abundance of books, websites and videos that already take up my time. Speaking of time, I was spending more of it scrolling through my explore page, spending twenty minutes on Instagram when my intention was to log on and post within five minutes.

All of the above realizations led me to realize that Instagram was only a big distraction. I had to analyze if my extra data usage, and the associated costs, were really worth it. I had a few hundred followers, which was still paltry in the grand scheme of things. Additionally, the followers I had weren’t actually engaging with the material on my website or my YouTube channel. Ultimately, my accounts were not meeting their goals. All they succeeded in was giving me validation. I could post art or a picture that I liked, and have other people express their approval. I could post a short poetry piece or an excerpt from my book and have people compliment it. None of this meant they would be interested in anything I shared outside of Instagram, but for a while that didn’t matter. Ignorance was coupled with bliss and I lived under the illusion that my distraction was a sign of productivity, and that it actually meant something. It took me too long to realize that it didn’t. It was a diversion; from my other works and my other platforms.

I can’t say it’s Instagram’s fault, it is the fault of my attention span. Now I want to redirect that attention span to my Facebook and Twitter, while I continue to blog and work on my fourth book.

The Validation Machine

Our society is crumbling under a new epidemic,

This is not a sickness that comes and goes, like the flu,

Or one that will have its time in the spotlight before it’s overcome, like Ebola,

We are dealing with a disease that will mutate and become the black plague of this generation,

A renaissance will not follow the plague this time,

This disease will bring us out of our renaissance and into the dark ages,

The disease has many forms and is known by many names,

There are many ways for it to be transmitted, but there is one that I want to target,

The disease is narcissism and the instrument of transmission is social media,

 

Blaming social media is too simplistic though,

The disease starts before we are even old enough to use it,

We have parents who tell their kids that they are great at everything,

That every terrible piece of art they present is astounding,

That every participation ribbon they receive is the mark of a champion,

These children grow into teens, who aren’t ready for the real world,

The real world doesn’t coddle them the same way their parents did,

They face failure, rejection and disappointment,

With these experiences, the disgruntled teen faces two options

1) Embrace the challenges and become a better person for doing so, letting these experiences become lessons

2)   Or they can let these experiences crush their confidence, leading to a path of insecurity and overcompensation

 

Most people opt for the second option

All hail social media,

 

Likes, comments= validation,

The teen in still insecure,

They have not truly accomplished anything that gives them real confidence,

Titles like “model” are hollow,

They don’t work with an agency,

All their pictures and ‘profound’ thoughts aren’t part of a wider effort to promote work they have created or a brand they are developing,

Their bodies, their vapid minds are the totality of their brand,

I do not want to focus on women either,

Men are guilty of this attention seeking as well, either through posting pictures or pining for women in other pictures,

 

Men desperately seek their own validation: attention from the opposite sex, maybe even the same sex

Yet these same men will be taken aback when people they talk to are stuck up and rude,

Don’t spend your free time inflating someone’s ego with likes and comments, and then be surprised when they develop a superiority complex,

You may not talk to all the same people you follow and like on social media,

But you must realize that most people you speak to are on the quest for validation,

They will have their own horde of adoring men and women who make things worse for you,

This horde gives them the ego needed to disregard the people they speak to in real life,

We are all part of the cycle of insecurity, validation and narcissism,

When society crumbles this time,

It won’t be due to a great war,

It will be an insidious disease that slowly stripped away the foundations of hard work, civility and resilience,