I know you’ve been there. It’s 2am and you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed. If you’re a full-time blogger like me or perhaps it’s even part of your job to be on the app, you justify it as ‘research’. Except five minutes later, I bet you can’t remember how many photos you’ve liked, what you saw or whether you are fully caught up with your friend’s boyfriend’s niece’s wedding in Tuscany.
We joke about that long dark path as we immerse ourselves in the twilight zone of social media. But it negatively affects all of us, influencer or not. We aren’t enjoying the creative process of creating, posting and commenting, or being part of a community, in the same way we did when we started. And the result? Feeling way more resentful of Instagram than you can consciously justify and fewer likes going around – for everyone. I’ll explain.
If you’ve read my blog The Haute Heel, you’ll know that I’m an avid observer of ‘The Algorithm’ on Instagram. Influencers talk about it so much I feel it deserves capital letters. Its updates over the last few years have affected engagement rates and raised expectations of influencers to perform for brands. Except have we considered that, at this point, it may not be a machine-learning code that’s hurting our precious likes and ‘brand value’. In fact, it might be us and our incessant mindless hours of scrolling? We are liking less, figuratively and literally speaking, and it could be affecting our wellbeing.
I’ve personally been asked, “what do you think the link between mental health and Instagram is… and what are you doing to help?”. How do you respond to a charged question like that? It could’ve referred to a number of things – firstly, an assumption that I see myself as a role model (I don’t) and, secondly, and most importantly, influencers or the app – or both – are responsible for the wellness of others. If you want to know my take on it, I think this post on where to find healthy inspiration might give you an idea onto whom the onus lies. Whatever your opinion on the controversial topic, we can see that it’s a cause that tech giants are willing to tackle.
Facebook’s ‘Time Well Spent’ initiative aims to promote healthier attitudes when it comes to their social media platforms. Features will include an activity dashboard and reminders of when your chosen time limit is up. For Facebook it’s about more than just keeping their users happy and active, and by extension securing the future of their advertising dollars. Consumers are demanding more from the brands they use every day. They are asking for a return of loyalty and accountability. Cue Facebook publicly embracing The ‘National Day of Unplugging’, a 24-hour digital detox.
It may seem counterintuitive for them to do so but they’re strategically placing themselves on our side. Then there’s ‘The Center for Humane Technology’ that was created this year, which is made up of CEO’s and industry leaders, with the goal to keep tech aligned with the well-being of humanity. They are creating humane design standards, business models and policy that will be better for our mental health, democracy, social relationships and our children.
While we wait for bigger changes to happen, here are three things can we do as everyday users to keep our Instagram experiences positive.
1. Don’t try to please everyone
By that I mean constant shout outs to stay relevant, exhausting yourself by covering every little detail of your day, shooting at inconvenient locations just because that’s what everyone else is doing, etc.
2. Don’t post every day
Personally, I’ve seen that not posting every day has a great effect on increasing my individual post impressions and also gives me more time to interact with other users’ posts rather than frantically replying to comments on my own.
3. Use Instagram for other reasons
I’ve started using the filtered ‘Explore’ options. My favourite is decor and I basically build mood-boards as you would with Pinterest. I also use Instagram to build visual maps of where I want to go in a particular city. It’s actually how I often decide which location to travel to next!
I love dogs (who doesn’t) and started discovering dog charities that I could potentially help out. I recently connected with a Swedish lady who rescued a lurcher puppy.
Find a cause that you’re passionate about and try to connect with similar and everyday users on Instagram. Build your own community outside of your account’s core focus.