Why I'm Taking a Break from Instagram
The minute I got off Instagram, my creativity came flooding back. I started taking the photos I’d wanted to take but couldn’t. I started noticing interesting things around me again. I started daydreaming, I started writing novels in my head.
At this point in time, I’m not sure if I’ll return to the platform at all - although I am torn, because I see a few key benefits that could persuade me back - but for now, it’s a very good thing. I think the perfectly gridded feed taught me everything it could, but now it’s time to move on. I learned about layout, composition, and color within the confines of curating a seamless aesthetic. But the rigidity of the squares proved to ultimately be too limiting. Paying attention to how images would crop made me select different photos than the ones that really resonated with me. Knowing I needed to balance the amount of close up and far away shots meant I took photos that weren’t compelling for the sake of having something to post. I’m grateful, I think, for learning the rules so I can know how to break them - and it is time to break them.
Leaving a social media platform always elicits multiple strong responses from different people. Usually these are based on their own views of how and why they use the platform themselves. Those who use it for actual social purposes are disappointed that I’ll miss important moments they want to share with me. Those who use it for business worry that I’ll fall behind the trends, which are certainly important to my job in graphic design. Family is afraid something negative has happened to make me run away.
I think there is proof that I made the right decision in the fact that all of these responses solidify my resolve to continue the break. I don’t want to rely on social media to see important moments, I want to BE there in person for my friends. I want to have a relationship where it wouldn’t be weird if they just texted me a fun/beautiful/inspiring/hilarious photo out of the blue for me to react to. I don’t want to spend all my time on my feed for inspiration and creative exercise, because I’ve been dulled to true creativity and pumped full of the same types of images over and over. There are other ways to keep up with design trends (and I haven’t given up Pinterest). As for my family, they’re not entirely incorrect. Nothing terribly negative happened to drive me away from Instagram, but my experience has felt like its in slow decline for some time now. The competitiveness, inauthenticity, and lack of uniqueness that many others have been bemoaning for months became so prevalent in my own feed that it was exhausting. Social media has too much power, you know? It can either be an incredible tool to lift others up, to inspire and encourage, or it can be a vicious weapon to spread anger, hate, and fear. It felt like a total power move to leave, so I did.
Ultimately, I was on Instagram to practice taking photos, see other beautiful images, and read inspiring, uplifting captions. The authentic stories were the best part, and I think those are largely gone now as people chase the algorithm and try every method they can for followers. I was never really interested in the social aspect, needing to comment and get comments, watch mind numbing stories and scroll endlessly. Until I am back in control of the content I see and consume, I don’t really want to be a part of this fake “community”. If anyone wants to make a new platform for taking and sharing photos without all the weird social features, let me know.
Where I do want to be, is face to face with my friends, real life community, husband, and family. I want to stay up late actually creating things, rather than looking at what other people are making. I tend to make more plans to make things, than actual things. So, I’m practicing writing. I’m digging into things that interest me, like illustration, screen printing, interior design, painting. Even cooking and baking. I don’t need to share every little detail, nor do I need to see all the details of others’ lives. I just don’t think we were meant to live like that. It was fun for a while, and yes, I did get so many good ideas and learn so many good things during the years I was heavily invested in Instagram, but I’m excited to break free of its limitations. I’m excited to cultivate an audience elsewhere, like this blog. I’m excited to make better, more meaningful art for a while.
I intend to share far more inspiration and thoughts in this space. I’ve read a number of articles that say blogs are declining, no one wants to read any more, this isn’t where the audience is - but that’s really not what it’s about for me right now. I need a new digital playground, one without rules, and this is it. I have complete creative control and freedom, to make messes and mistakes, to share without needing likes and comments for affirmation.
I don’t know that many people will even read this little rant about social media, but if you do, I hope you have the courage to take a step back if you need to, and say hey, this little app doesn’t define me, doesn’t get to run my schedule, doesn’t get to run my life. I do.