At first I was delighted by all the pretty pictures. It was like having free access to an infinite variety of glossy magazines – houses, nature, food, architecture, distant places, all there at the click of a mouse.
But gradually I began to sicken of it. Not surprising, actually. In the days when I still bought glossy magazines they were an occasional treat. If one had dropped through the letterbox every day I would soon have stopped opening them.
And although I told myself I didn’t care about them, I did get hooked in to the numbers to a certain extent. Again not surprising, the people behind these platforms have put huge efforts into getting us to use them constantly, why would I be immune?
Over Christmas I took a break and found I felt better not looking at my stream and putting myself under pressure to post regularly. Whenever I came back I was immediately annoyed that I couldn’t see the latest pictures from the people I follow.
I felt so manipulated that I toyed with the idea of simply giving up, and then had an idea: ‘Why not try using social media on your own terms?’ For me that means more like I use Twitter, still my favourite platform by far.
I’m grateful to Twitter, which helped me build the success and reputation of my Work from Home Wisdom blog. It suits me, because words are the main focus (although I rarely tweet without a photo now), it’s brief and to the point, and it’s quickly gone. So much less to agonise about.
Using Instagram on my terms
I’ve bookmarked the accounts that:
1. Belong to people I have a ‘real’ connection with, either IRL or whose interactions feel meaningful, and whose news I’m genuinely interested in.
2. Consistently publish pictures that give me pleasure and inspiration.
3. Provide excellent information.
Every day I look at a selection, depending on my mood and research requirements. I try to ignore numbers, and like and comment sparingly, if I’m genuinely moved to. Time will tell if this is too unwieldy a process.
Interestingly, having started to implement my plan, I came across an article by Arianna Huffington, in which she declares 2018 will be the year of The Great Awakening.
When we ‘decide what we want from technology and what irreducible parts of our humanity we want to safeguard and protect.’ It’s a thought-provoking read, especially if you’re concerned about the effect of social media on your children’s wellbeing.
I discovered when writing about how to Stay connected without losing your mind that I’m far from the only person who finds Instagram particularly problematic. If you’ve come up with any ways of using social media on your own terms and not those of the app, I’d love to hear about them.
(Photos by STIL on Unsplash)