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.