My finger hovered over that delete button. “Was I really going to do this?” I wondered. I had always said that I would quit if it compromised my joy. And right now, my joy surely has been compromised. What had seemed like fun before now felt like work with very little payoff.
Delete. Instagram was gone from my phone. Forever? Perhaps. It was time to renew and revamp.
But wait, was I supposed to, like, announce my break or something? Isn’t that what influencers do? They make a big declaration that they are going to go off to a yoga retreat or beautiful sprawling cabin in the mountains to recharge for a month or two away from social media and then ultimately post pictures about it later.
I hemmed and hawed. I didn’t want my 'hordes' of followers (sarcastic eye roll) to wonder obsessively about my departure. So I logged back on and did a quick little post announcing my one-month sabbatical.
There done. Wipes hands clean.
Nearly three years ago, I reluctantly joined Instagram as I wanted to try my hand at blogging. I had recently become a mom, and seeing that I was already a teacher and a lover of writing, I thought I could use Instagram to share my blogs about parenting and advice for other moms.
In my very first post on the app, I naively thought I could post the link to my blog in my caption, and people could click on it and be redirected to my website, which featured all my writings. Looking back, I had so much to learn.
I was a quick student and became adept at using the ever popular 'link in bio' in all my captions.
The next couple of years were spent trying to grow my Pinterest and Facebook page, build an email list, guest blog, learn SEO for my blogging website, and, of course, master Instagram. For the most part, I enjoyed what I was doing, even with the constantly changing Instagram and its algorithm.
I connected with other mom bloggers and, basically, 100% immersed myself in the world of mom Instagram. I pretty much followed every big-name parenting account out there and would spend my time reading their posts and commenting, trying to get them to notice me.
*Spoiler alert* They never did.
Instagram has always been somewhat of a mystery to me, and up until this past year, I had a love-hate relationship with it. There were so many rules to follow.
Niche down. No niche down further. No further! It shouted at me.
But I don’t want to just post about one topic! I have a variety of interests. I shouted back.
It punished me.
You must post consistently on our app every day. You need to have posts, stories, and reels. Engage your audience! It admonished me.
But I have a life outside of Instagram! I don't want to be on every moment. Can't I treat you like a brick-and-mortar store where I close on certain days and hours? I pleaded back.
Instagram didn’t care. It punished me.
For the love of God, you MUST use our reels! You must sing, dance, point, and by all means make them super fast. People’s attention spans are waning. It chastised me.
Ummm… okay. I’ll try. But I like talking in my reels and explaining. 30 seconds is too short. I tried to reason.
It punished me.
By the summer of 2022, I felt as if Instagram was a whole new app that I didn’t sign up for. Gone were the posts with long-worded captions. Instead, short reels with too fast to read texts flashed across my feed. And where were my followers, my friends? Why was I only fed people Instagram thinks I would like?
At this point, my views were dismal. I barely gained new, authentic followers, and when I did, I’m almost certain they were bots. The posts that I spent so much time on barely got past ten likes and one comment, if that.
And beyond that, Instagram seemed to be one big shouting match after a week of a big news event, and then everyone would move on to the next thing to shout about.
I couldn’t do it anymore. In a year when I was already suffering from chronic health problems and secondary infertility, I couldn’t look at one more carefully curated account of someone just trying to appease Instagram. I couldn’t pretend anymore.
Constant photos of pregnancy announcements, new baby pictures in the hospitals, and siblings playing with one another brought up a lot of Two Things Are True Emotions. Yes, I’m genuinely happy for the people in these pictures and also totally grateful for the life and son I have. But I also had feelings of bitterness, resentment, and sadness. Why can’t I have more babies?
The constant waves of emotions and the stress of trying to keep up with Instagram didn’t help my chronic health problems either. So, I did what I had to do.
I signed off.
And I already feel like a weight has been lifted from my chest. I am able to focus on the things I truly love with blogging - the actual writing. I have spent so much time doing more writing. Writing for my own website. Writing for other websites. Writing to my email list.
I have a renewed love for writing again now that I am not constantly trying to figure out the system and pacify it.
My original plan was to take a month off from Instagram. But that month has grown longer, and I have no desire to even tell my followers. Looking ahead to the future, I have some ideas that involve me spending less and less time on it.
Maybe, I will do one post a month of a round-up of all the blogs I wrote that past month. If only ten people enjoy it, so be it. Maybe I will just use it to keep up with my friends and the accounts that I like learning from. Maybe I will do one final post and then ride off into the sunset.
But I’m enjoying not being subjugated to its growing demands.
I’m enjoying being happy again and having the joy come back into my life.
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