Before I get into this, I want to say loudly and clearly, nothing monumental has occurred and this is not a political statement or social commentary. It’s just a thing I did because I wanted to. OK, let’s get into this.
Deleting my Instagram has been both a long time coming and the result of a moment of clarity. Since no longer doing internet-related things for work, whether promoting my own business or managing someone else’s, getting out of the must have a presence on every platform mindset has been a gradual process. There have been lots of small realisations, lots of little light bulb moments, that have resulted in jettisoning things that began as work or something like necessity, that may at some point have been at least partially fun, but have since become mostly obligations.
If you’ve never done online things for anything other that personal reasons, keeping up with friends and family, looking at things that interest you, this might all sound kind of crazy. The issues I read about social media – feeling bad because my life isn’t as shiny as those I see online, wishing I could afford the products people are being paid to promote, all that stuff – have never been issues for me. My issue was both simple and complicated. Existing online in the capacity of a promoting a business or promoting my work as an artist or a something-other-than-just-myself became habitual and yes, it should be easy to just step outside of that, but it isn’t. It really isn’t. It takes time and some fairly massive shifts in consciousness, a lot of letting go. And that’s what’s been happening over the last couple of years, in fits and starts, or pauses and quietness and Delete Profile links.
On to the moment of clarity bit. As much as my aesthetic is a million miles from stereotypical minimalism, my approach to life is pretty minimalist. I don’t gather things for the sake of gathering things. I hate clutter, mess and unmanageable amounts of anything. I like organisation, cleanliness and intentional living in all aspects of my existence. I don’t like needless repetition or wasting time. Before I buy an item of clothing, a techie gadget, a household appliance or any other thing, I ask myself if I really need it, if it’s good quality, if it represents value for money and, most importantly, if it serves a purpose that nothing I already own serves.
And therein lies the clarity. I looked at my social media presence through the same lens as I look at the rest of my life and realised Instagram wasn’t necessary for work or a source of joy anymore. It had become nothing more than a habit and an obligation. Sure, it’s nice to scroll through lots of photos, but the algorithmic nature of Instagram – I don’t decide what I want to see; it decides what I want to see – meant I often wasn’t seeing pictures from my actual friends. The adverts, every fourth or fifth post, were getting on my nerves because they were becoming increasingly spammy. Most importantly, I wasn’t doing anything on Instagram that I don’t do elsewhere.
I already and also share my photos and writing here, on DeviantArt and on Twitter. DeviantArt has the added dimension of being a community I’ve been part of for almost a decade and a half. It’s not just somewhere to share my words and pictures, but is also a place where I have the opportunity to support and encourage other artists through my work as a Community Volunteer. Twitter isn’t just somewhere I post photos. It’s also somewhere I take part in hashtag games for writers, share things I make and things that interest me, and connect with an amazing community of writers and other creative people from all over the world. I love the transient nature of Twitter, the online cocktail party vibe, and I don’t view it as a news source (don’t even get me started on that). Instagram was just somewhere I posted photos. That’s it. Nothing more.
Also, and this might seem a bit weird to a lot of people reading this, I keep up with my family and close friends by phone, email and other messages. We share news and pictures. We actually talk. And I do mean close friends here. I’m not referring to hundreds of vague acquaintances. I realised ages ago that my life was infinitely better without the opinions, rage and virtue signalling of people I barely knew. That’s when I deleted my Facebook account and, oh my god, that was such a positive move for reasons too numerous and complex to get into here.
So this morning I realised Instagram was nothing more than excess baggage and I let it go. I’m not saying everyone has to do that, or should do that, or would benefit from doing that. Everyone’s needs and wants are different. I don’t care what social media platforms other people use and I find it strange and amusing that as soon as I mention deleting my profile from a platform, people immediately start justifying why they haven’t done that. So if that’s where you’re at right now, chill. You don’t owe me an explanation and honestly, I don’t care. You do you. Be happy. I am.