I love Instagram…like more than I probably should. It makes me happy, lightens my day, and is a wonderful source of inspiration…or at least it was. There are so many talented people on IG that it is easy to tap “follow” with everyone you come across. Why not? Well, because eventually you are following too many people and it can suck the fun out of Instagram. A few weeks ago I realized a couple things about Instagram:
- It was taking up a lot of time
- It was causing excess mental clutter
- It was making it easy for me to compare my work to others and see myself negatively
- It was overwhelming
- I wasn’t engaging with the people I follow, just scrolling past
- I wasn’t recognizing the people I follow or remembering anything about them
- I was following 950 people
When I first started Instagram I followed a small handful of people. It didn’t take me long to scroll through my feed, it only added happiness to my life, and I got excited to check and see if there was a new post. When they posted I could immediately recall their backstory, business, children’s names, and why I followed them. This, however, was not the case anymore. I was following so many people that instead of feeling inspired I felt overwhelmed. Instead of feeling like I knew the people I followed, I felt like we were strangers (which I guess technically speaking, we are most of the time…haha the welcome to the weird world of social media!). I started thinking about why I follow a person and these were my reasons:
- A pretty feed
- Encouraging words
- I know them in person
- I feel the need to network
- I feel the fear of missing out on what they are posting/announcing/doing
Now let’s talk about a different idea. What if we (rather than following people we just simply liked) decided to curate a feed that filled us with inspiration and motivation. Like putting together a magazine, mood board, or art exhibit of only things that make you happier. So when you log into Instagram it is truly a place for inspiration. The break in the workday you need, the boost of happiness.
I realized there is a difference between something beautiful, and something perfectly suited to your taste that motivates you. There is a difference between someone being nice, and someone being able to provide the exact type of encouragement you need. So why not follow only people that are perfectly suited to us each individually? I know from the opposite end that I would rather have 4 followers that are truly inspired and made happier by my Instagram posts, than 4,000 that could care less but follow me because they stumbled upon me one time.
Instagram had been feeling so overwhelming that once I had this thought I became fixated on it and unfollowed almost 600 people. I didn’t unfollow them because I didn’t care about them, because they don’t have beautiful feeds, or I find them uninteresting. I unfollowed them because I don’t have enough time in the day. Because I don’t need a feed that is only overwhelming. Because I often compare myself to them causing negativity in my life. Because I don’t need the mental clutter. My rule of thumb is that if something (that is only for pleasure/entertainment) stops being fun…it’s not worth my time, and it’s not worth yours either. Instagram is one tiny fraction of social media, in the scope of life it is terribly unimportant (and this is coming from someone who LOVES social media and whose job heavily depends on it). It is not worth stress!
Not sure how to start unfollowing? I wasn’t either. I felt hung up on guilt, feeling like if I unfollowed someone they would know and take personal offense to it (which was not the goal). But here is what I realized:
- love and the follow button are not the same thing. I am completely capable of loving and having a relationship with someone without knowing what they post on Instagram. We live in a world where you have to follow everyone 100% of the time on every single platform. Guess what guys, Instagram has only been out for 5 years. Before that, there were millions of ways to show someone love, and there still are today. Following someone is not the same thing as loving them or having a relationship with them.
- I can follow them somewhere else that is less overwhelming for me. If I want to continue following them but decide Instagram isn’t the place, I will find somewhere else to follow them. For example, I love Snapchat. It isn’t overwhelming for me, I don’t compare my work there, and it doesn’t add mental clutter. So for me, I unfollowed a lot on Instagram but followed the same people on Snapchat. (Same with Twitter, Youtube, Bloglovin’)
So maybe this isn’t a problem for everybody, but if you find yourself overwhelmed by Instagram lately, let’s make if fun again and curate a feed that quite literally feeds you inspiration and happiness.