Instagram used to be my creative playground. Now I’m reluctant to open the app.
Last week I pulled my journal towards me and wrote, ‘I’ve lost 2k followers on IG.’ Then, after a pause, I added: ‘and I don’t care.’
I’m currently in the process of writing a non-fiction book proposal and one of the things I had in my favour was a fairly healthy-sized Instagram account to impress the publishers with. So to come out publically and state that I don’t care about losing a large number of followers over two years is perhaps not the wisest move I’ve ever made. But that just shows the strength of my feelings about Instagram now. I genuinely don’t care.
In their desire to keep us on the app, to keep us scrolling, they’ve actually had the opposite effect. I am so over it.
The app, previously one of my favourite places to be creative and to be inspired, has become a place of stress, of rules and algorithms and a place of dopamine addiction. I do not feel good whilst using it.
I felt stuck, though. I thought I was tied to it. That I needed it for my work — whatever that was at the time. I needed it for a platform, I needed it because I might be spotted by a publisher or agent. Walking away from it was just too risky.
But during the early summer of 2020 that’s exactly what I did. I decided to take a break from the app that I’d been using pretty much every day for five or six years and take a step back. Focus on something else.
So I did. And it was a hard habit to break. Every time I wrote a sentence or two I’d go to pick up my phone in order to open up the app before I stopped and realised what I was doing. I was shocked at how often I would take this action.
Over time my concentration returned and I’d stop moving my hand to grab my phone. My focus improved and, funnily enough, my writing and productivity improved too. I even started to — gasp — finish projects.
Coming away from Instagram gave me space. Space to think, space to do things without needing to film or photograph them. It reduced the clutter in my head and allowed the nubbin of an idea to start growing and become more ambitious.