A Substack Experiment
Why I left Instagram (which I was really only using for Stories) and am bringing my *talents* to Substack 😉😙
It looks like I started on Instagram in May of 2015. I didn’t really get it, and spent the first couple of years using it as a photo dump for lil visual jokes and abandoning an account every time it hit greater than 100 followers (I didn’t want to get sucked into the fame and influencer trap, you see):
My very intermittent, non-addicted relationship with Instagram was completely upended in 2018 when I started Instagram Storying and simply could not stop. I basically had one long Instagram Story running from Fall 2018 - Summer 2020.
Apart from the semi-obvious reasons around enjoying sharing/processing/highlighting my life on a social media platform with friends, I initially got sucked into Stories because, unlike posts, viewers couldn’t see engagement metrics. It felt to me like I was free from the pressure to have a lot of likes or views or followers, and I could genuinely post whatever struck my fancy rather than what I hoped other people wanted.
But of course I was still living performatively and posting a curated image of my life, aestheticizing/highlighting everything everybody and their moms
literally (my mom):
After a very prolific couple of years on Instagram Stories however, it began to feel like I was furiously tap-dancing in an empty theater.
I argued to myself posting to Instagram Stories was *for me, and me alone*, and that I had built up a rose-colored glasses repository of images and videos highlighting the brief moments of my days that were fun, pretty, or notable. Giving myself an opportunity to reflect on experiences positively (when I’m a bit predisposed to negativity).
But something about Instagram stopped serving me this past summer. I kept on gaining followers from people I had only barely ever met and had no hopes of ever building a stronger relationship with. It felt like I was being kept tabs on by people who couldn’t have cared less about my existence. I began suspecting that a number of my followers were mindlessly tapping through several minutes’ worth of Instagram Stories from dozens of accounts in order to form an aggregate, average image of what they’re supposed to be staying in line with.
And I’m not really down with that anymore! If I want more intentional, rich connection, I have to put a bit more effort and intention into what I put into the world. If I don’t want to be misconstrued or misunderstood, I have to articulate myself more clearly. I’ve secretly known for awhile that I was using Instagram to project an image of authenticity, when in fact I was actually being emotionally obscuring:
Of course, there were a handful of people by whom I felt really loved and seen, and for whom I stayed on the platform for longer than I should have. Our relationships did actually flourish and we were able to stay decently in touch by consuming and reacting to each others’ content.
So in light of the fact that the processing and sharing I did on social media did in fact help me to nourish and maintain relationships, I’m now trying my hand at working through and sharing my experiences and observations with the power of the written word or maybe visual essay…and inviting near and dears along for the ride,