Instagram has never been my favorite app, perhaps because I love reading words more than staring at photos. But beyond that core element, it’s continued to be the bane of my existence — at least while writing about the tech industry, chatting with friends, and watching the world around me strain to be more “Instagrammable.”
I understand some people — maybe a decent amount of Instagram’s 500 million daily users — are inspired by the photos they see in their feeds. For my colleague Miriam Kramer, her highly curated Instagram account is a much-preferred distraction to the Facebook app. For one of my best friends Lizza Monet Morales, Instagram is part of her career as an actress, TV host, and social media personality.
For me, Instagram is a place of fakeness, humblebrags, and harassment, and I don’t want to be a part of it anymore. That’s why when I got an iPhone X for Christmas and started fresh by not restoring from backup, I didn’t bother downloading Instagram.
For some, Instagram is a creative outlet, a place where they find happiness spending hours searching for “Instagrammable” moments, taking the perfect shot, choosing the right filter, thinking up a caption with the appropriate hashtags, and waiting to post at the exact right moment. And then, sometimes they delete it if they don’t get enough “likes,” and okay, that’s their choice. For others, Instagram is just a mindless and relaxing way to start or end their day or to take a break.
For me, it’s a place where I’ve showed off some happy moments of my life, and I don’t really know why. I mean they’re nice memories. It’s like a scrapbook, but why does my scrapbook need to be public? Why does each picture in my scrapbook need a number of likes and the potential for comments?
Let’s take a brief look at my Instagram: 1) Margaritas 2) White House press briefing room 3) Puppy at startup event [and evidence of me wearing the same dress too close together] 4) Me on the beach with an ex 5) A video of Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook’s F8 conference 6) Badge from F8
Okay, so maybe I just suck at Instagram. I’m not one to look for the perfect shot or “Instagrammable” moment. When I do, it’s a tongue-in-cheek move. But what I can tell from myself is that I really don’t need Instagram. These shots would be better kept in my Camera Roll, or if I wanted the world to see them I go to Facebook or go to Flickr or something. I don’t need a public-facing scrapbook of my life, and I want you to ask yourself if you need one too.
Of course, Instagram is not all about you and your feed. It’s where you can keep up with friends or obsessions you have. For me, that’s the dogs of Instagram, but I don’t think I need to have them accessible on my phone at all times. When it comes to friends, I know a lot of mine have moved from sharing Snapchat Stories to Instagram Stories. But I don’t feel like I need to see whatever they’re boasting about via one photo or video.
Instagram Stories isn’t fun, at least not for me. I tried Instagram Stories back in November after a 14-month-long protest. Before I posted my first Instagram Story, I spent an hour with Kay Hsu, the global Instagram lead at the Facebook Creative Shop, at one of Facebook’s offices in New York. She took me through what Facebook calls “Stories School,” a training session the company regularly hosts for marketers.
“Okay, this is going to be really hard, but it’s worth it,” Hsu told me as she explained how to make text have a rainbow gradient.
I found myself saying, “Whoa” and “Cool,” as Hsu walked me through a bunch of the features I may not have discovered as quickly on my own. I experienced the instant gratification, via “likes” and DMs, you get from posting your first Instagram Story. But high engagement comes at a cost. I was quickly reminded my Instagram audience includes young family members.
Yeah, Instagram Stories had a few unique functionalities that I loved using, but what frustrated me the most about Instagram Stories was the pressure I felt with every post. I had myself thinking intently about everything I shared or considered sharing. I was curating posts based on what I deemed “Instagrammable”: order Starbucks, attend a work event at Facebook NY, drink champagne, twirl in a sparkly skirt. Very, uh, basic activities.
All that and there’s just the sour taste that Instagram leaves in my mouth. I personally love using Snapchat, and all of Facebook’s copycat moves annoy me. “How do they sleep at night?” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s wife Miranda Kerr asked, referring to Instagram employees, and I agree as I watch Instagram transform into a Snapchat wannabe.
I’m also over the fake followers and bot networks. The black market of Instagram verification where people pay THOUSANDS of dollars to get a blue check from Instagram employees, as I exposed in August, is ridiculous and the fact that Instagram refused to address it on the record with me is BS.
I’m sick of the Instagram algorithm, and the fact that they don’t seem to care so many people would rather have it return to chronological order.
The bra and fitspo ads that invaded my feed, as well as the feed of wonderful human Lauren Hallden, are ridiculous and unnecessary to have in my life.
And I never want to see a comment like this on one of my photos again.
So, I’m done. What about you?