At one point, my passion (and livelihood) was the internet, spending much of my time online and “living and breathing” social media. But then everything changed with Instagram. Soon enough, Instagram turned me off social media completely.
Before Instagram blew up into a platform full of egoists and wanna-be celebs, it was a place to share photos instantly – off-the-cuff moments of our lives, a behind-the-scenes visual of the little moments not usually shared publicly. It offered people an inside scoop of our realities – raw and unfiltered.
In the early days, it was popular to use the dark pre-set filter of our snaps so they could appear a little more blurry and artsy. Imagine that! Now, Instagram images are glossy, highly-edited magazine covers. Some influencers-turned-photographers learned Photoshop, bought expensive lighting and purchased DSLRs. Others took courses to learn how to capture the best “Instagram-worthy” shot with their iPhones, slowly killing some photography businesses in the process.
They hired photographers to capture the carefully curated moments of their picture-perfect lives. They hid their regular, mundane day-to-day parts because Instagram is supposed to be an “escape”. Only show the pretty in life – and God forbid it wasn’t designed and photographed like an art director of Vogue or House & Home.
It’s all one big, stupid, pointless farce. No one lives that way.
Instagram was first created to share Instant moments – stories were there to capture in-the-moment snaps. The “instant” in “Insta-gram” became lost when brands began to see an opportunity to leverage their sales. The secret word – monetize.
The blogging industry took a hit when Instagram peaked and the “influencer” became the hottest commodity in social media marketing. Instagram influencers began purchasing followers, likes and even comments to boost their engagement, driving their “price” up higher.
Remember when brands caught on?
It took a while but the brands caught on, and the few that had integrity, did their research on influencers before agreeing to work with them. But the others, the majority, fed the beast. Brands flocked to the hottest influencer of-the-week, throwing money for them to wear the latest trend, apply the newest shade of eye shadow, show-off their flawless skin. They overlooked the bot comments and fake likes, as long as the numbers were there to prove the campaign was successful, even if they were bought.
Soon after, regular folks caught on.
“Oh, all I have to do is post some pretty pictures and buy some followers and I can make money!” Every Dick and Jane in town suddenly became an entrepreneur by starting an Instagram account, purchasing a $39 online course on how to become an “influencer” and ta-da! Anyone with even a tiny following could “influence” others’ purchasing decisions; they coined the terms nano-influencers, micro-influencers and so on…
Fake Famous is a documentary that delves into this phenomenon with a social experiment. They take three non-famous people and throw them into the social media influencer world by “faking” fame. They use tactics such as buying followers and faking a luxurious lifestyle to garner followers. The doc is definitely worth a watch, and shows you have to be a certain type of person to lavish – borderline narcissist perhaps? – to play the Instagram “game”.
The pressure is real.
What about the bloggers we once knew, did they fare well on Instagram? People we once admired succumbed to the pressure of boosting their numbers. How else could they compete in a growing sea of influencers? The market became so saturated that many bought into the competition, finding various slimy ways of growing their pages – basically selling out. What non-celebrity manages to get 3,000 new followers within 48 hours?
Instagram became an addiction.
And that’s what social media is purposed to do, to keep you on their particular platform as long as possible. Keep scrolling and scrolling endlessly, our brains shutting down while flashes of video, altered and filtered selfies, and silly dances to catchy tunes seep into our subconscious.
Instagram also rewards users by spending hours on their platform; the more time you spend scrolling, the more your posts will be seen too. You keep feeding the beast and the beast will reward you. The algorithm shifts depending on how many endless hours you’re willing to dedicate to making Instagram richer.
And that’s one of the main reasons Instagram turned me off social media and “killed” blogging.
Instagram turned me off social media.
Well, not killed – because no matter what, your own blog/website is YOURS; not owned by Mark Zuckerberg who can switch the algorithm without notice and kill your audience. And if you can’t dedicate two hours a day to spend on Instagram, Instagram won’t give a shit about you!
Let’s not forget about the highly-coveted 10,000 follower mark when the skies magically open up for the heavenly reward – the swipe-up feature in Stories. What people will do to reach that 10K! If Instagram allowed this silly feature for every user despite the number of followers, the underground sub secret business of bots might not be so lucrative.
Attention spans have dwindled.
No one wants to read blogs anymore because their attention spans have dwindled down to a mere 15 seconds. I remember in my broadcast journalism classes, we’d ask our interviewee to dumb things down to short soundbites. That worked for television, but people still enjoyed reading long-form content – you remember… newspapers, magazines, books and even blogs.
Now, those short soundbites are all we’re accustomed to, and sometimes 15 seconds is too long. It’s to the point where mere seconds is the maximum amount of attention we’re capable of giving at any moment. How has this become our lives today?
You have six seconds to make an impression.
Many people bought into this idea of beautiful feeds and consistent, glossy images. But there were some – like me – who didn’t fall into this notion that Instagram has to be the new generation of bullshit.
I was more focused on the content, sharing stories, helpful tips and resources. But it seemed no one was interested – or had the attention span – of long-form content anymore.
I’ll keep doing my own thing.
Writing a book was a goal I had for many years and to see it come to fruition was a career highlight. It was the highly-anticipated peak of my blogging career. Writing a book would open more doors, while adding credibility to all the work I’d done leading up to this pivotal point.
But I had less than 10,000 followers. Brands began overlooking those who were “less-than” the huge numbers they sought. It didn’t matter than I wrote a book; an author with a smaller following couldn’t dare compete with an influencer with 25K fans.
Put a fork it in.
That’s the society we live in today, and I’m so over it. I’m over the huge egos, the “look-at-me!” cries for attention, the over-sharing, the manipulated images, the parents who use their kids as props and future-fashionistas.
So I will keep doing my own thing, staying true to myself and not changing who I am to feed into the insanity that has become of Instagram. Instagram has turned me off social media in a way no other social media platform has.
The bubble has to burst at some point. And just like blogging once had its hay day, Instagram will too be a thing of the past.