Stop it, Instagram…

“If you don’t like something, then take away it’s only power:  Your Attention.”

This post is going to seem awkward because this whole blog is an offshoot of my Instagram account and my “InstaBlogs.” But, here it is…

Anyone who has followed my Instagram account for even just a few months will surely have noticed my back and forth inner struggle with whether to continue on there. Maybe that struggle is the true root of why I was compelled to create a separate blog for my ramblings and my journeys through grief, CPTSD, my mother’s dementia, etc., which I have not even been diligent in keeping updated…

There are many reasons that I find myself on unsteady Insta-ground, if you will. In fact, it’s pretty clear that I’m not on steady ground from any aspect of my life these days but that’s a really good thing, I think, as this weekend I have taken some time to evaluate just exactly WHY my open sharing on Instagram (versus here, which is completely the opposite) makes me feel so uneasy.

In a conversation with an IG friend last week, I said, “Do you ever just want to delete most of your posts – or, at least your captions? I mean we are clearly photography people – we love shooting and sharing images. But the rest? Sometimes I just want to shut that all away completely, at least in regards to Instagram sharing.” This person surprised when they said, “YES. Very often. I totally get it.”

THANK YOU. Thank you, Universe, for showing me that I’m not the only one. Now, let me quickly share with you here, in long-form, the things that have been on my mind about “social media” sharing (versus blogging – everything I’m about to share about social media sharing is completely the opposite in my mind when it comes to blogging). But I struggle. Because I also have the friends – including that particular friend – who tell me, “but that you continue sharing is the biggest motivator, more so than WHAT you share. You continue on…”

More than a year ago, I deleted my Facebook account. DELETED, not deactivated. GONE. Forever. All of it. Well, now we all know, if we have any sort of working techno brain, that that’s not true – anything you post online is still out there SOMEWHERE and out of your control. I don’t care so much about that. I wouldn’t have shared things online in the first place if I cared about that – as a tech person with a lot of history in the field of computer science I’d be stupid (or at least ignorant) to say that it bothered me because I’ve always known this and still shared anyway. Ha… The point here is that I just no longer wanted to use the service.

First of all, Facebook is a bunch of bullshit. The company is big fat liar, for lack of a more mature description. They steal your information, they use said information against you (as all internet moguls do, if we’re being fair), and they try to trap you into their service(s) by encouraging (in some cases forcing) you to use your login to FB to sign up or at the least to sign in to other services (Spotify, Pinterest, and hundreds of other services/apps/sites). Pfft. NO THANK YOU. I had to completely trash my Spotify account and recreate it in order to get out of the spider web because of linking my Spotify and Facebook accounts. Likewise, when I deleted my Facebook account I also lost access to my Scribd account, and several other accounts that were PAID subscription services.

That was the first thing about FB that pissed me off (both causing me to delete my account and making my app/services life a living hell to straighten out for months afterward). The twist for me here is that Facebook has owned Instagram for a couple of years now. And they implement the same sort of schemes via Instagram as they did with Facebook (minus the account linking push). I don’t support Facebook or any of their subsidies. AT ALL. Yet, I LOVE Instagram. Rather, I love what Instagram was when I started out there way back in 2010.

This leads me to the root of my problem and my disturbance:  I hate what social media has become. I hate the way it has affected/effected my life, and my peace/sanity. I hate the way I can’t escape the numbers even though I don’t ever look at them (follower count, etc.). Back in the olden days of deviantART, which I was active with for around 7 years (and still have an account with), there was bullshit but there was a LOT of USER CONTROL. You could hide your numbers and statistics – from other users and from yourself. They gave you options, and if you didn’t want it to be about this or that, then you could tweak your page and your profile to work for you. NOT POSSIBLE on ANY social media service I’ve ever used.

I have created, deleted, recreated, deleted, recreated, deleted social media profiles across the board for years. I’ve never been an active user of snapchat or some of the more “live” or video oriented things because I’m a photographer (a real and true hobbyist one, not an, “I have a cell phone, oh look at my toast, oh look at my shoes, oh look at 372 selfies of me in the bathroom,” one). But Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…the main ones? Yes, I’ve been sucked in and spit back out of all of them more than once. Saying good riddance to Facebook was an extremely liberating beginning for me. Then came Twitter (which I recreated to share links to this blog and keep up with the Cheeto’s misfortunes recently, but am planning to delete as soon as I post this blog). Instagram, as a photographer, is one that never seems to be escapable for me.

My main three problems with Instagram:

Problem number one:  I care too much about the people I connect with. It’s true – and I admit it. I get so attached to people! I worry about other people’s problems and worries and issues more than I worry about my own most of the time. I spend more time in DM talking to people about their problems (and my own) than I do even sharing or commenting about actual photo posts. That’s…getting to the point of being unacceptable. I have taken several days-at-a-time breaks lately, and this is why. It’s absolutely exhausting. I want to connect with people. I LOVE connecting with people, and helping each other. I do. But I have GOT to heal myself. This has gone on long enough. And, ultimately? Those people are the only ones who can help themselves, anyway.

Problem number two:  popularity contests. I want no part in them. Nothing else to say about that…

Problem number three: my time. I wrote a post recently about advertising and the sneaky stealing of time and resources they manage to get away with. Instagram does the same thing to me. As I’ve said, I CARE so much about so many of the people I’m connected with there – and the world in general when it comes to the issues I advocate and try to use my voice and experiences to help in the world. But the rest of my life suffers because it can’t just be an hour over coffee or a set time a few times a week to do that. It’s every day, and every few hours. Or, sometimes, depending on my mood/work schedule, it can be literally every hour, or thirty minutes, or 5 minutes when I’m procrastinating other things from real life, like laundry and dishes. It’s an excuse to not do something else.

I read a comment this weekend somewhere (forgive me, I can’t remember where it was but I REALLY think it was on a YouTube video about this topic) that really got me to thinking and putting these thoughts together. So in a nutshell, this is it:

I am SO TIRED of looking around me, whether in public or even in my own house, and seeing almost everyone looking down at their phones. Even at the grocery store, no-one writes an actual list, on paper, anymore. EVERYBODY IS ALWAYS LOOKING AT A FUCKING PHONE. It drives me crazy. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard – especially when I’m trying to talk to that person, and they’re in my house, and they’re my child. NO. Limits are being revised. We should be spending time with ACTUAL PEOPLE, in our ACTUAL LIVES, not creating a life that is more fun and prettier for us (but isn’t real) via our phones.

Don’t live your life through your phone, live it outside of your phone – spending time in reality and making real memories. Take pictures with your phone, by all means. Hell, even share them in your blog or on your Instagram or Facebook – FINE, but do that FOR YOU, not for everyone else. I think that’s why I get called out so often for being too open or real. It’s because people expect me to post bullshit, and I don’t. The stuff I post beyond pretty nature photography means something to me, and I post it more for me and the people who can be helped or encouraged by it than to please someone else.

Even still, sometimes (as is often for me lately) you’ve just got to put down the phone and look up at the world around you and see the real faces of the people right in front of you, strangers or family or whomever they are. Make REAL friends who can spend time with you, and want to – people who want to be a part of your actual story and not just the best friends online who will send you the most spam.

It’s difficult for me – I LOVE Instagram. In fact, I can become rather passionate about it, and the art and the advocacy and so forth and so on. Social media is so good for those things. And, convenient. But I think the convenience is part of the problem… There’s nothing wrong with social media until it begins to take over – and when we have it so readily and conveniently available, especially when we want to procrastinate or waste time on purpose, it can easily become a habit that we don’t realize is stealing our lives away. I wish that everyone – but right now, as I write this, mostly me, myself and I – could learn to live life to the fullest again by experiencing it with their own eyes and experiences and not through the illusions of the screen.

I once built a whole, deep, and what I thought was a very real and meaningful and serious relationship through a screen, and it crushed my soul and my world to realize that that was a blatant lie and the lie of it was staring me in the face the entire time. It STILL hurts, to this day, and I still can not convince myself that it wasn’t real because it was so real for me. I was building a life that was never going to exist, but I really believed that it was going to be waiting for me when I got there. I never even questioned it coming to me – I just thought, “it will be there when I get there.” And then, one day, I was made heartbreakingly aware that not only did that life not want me to come to it, it didn’t want me at all. And after that, silence – which is a very powerful thing in contrast to what it had been (at least for me). My heart literally still aches over that, years later, and I don’t want that to become the way I live the whole of my life…

I don’t really know what triggered this post, aside from the assumptions people make about what you post and why you post it and so forth and so on. I posted a blank post and then a text post and then another blank post – the goal was a row of three images for consistency, with the text standing out, and to create a break in my profile page (I do that often to keep it organized for myself, kind of like a sort of visual timeline for myself because Instagram doesn’t really offer anything of the sort).

Someone thought I was disturbed and upset because I posted a blank post. Why? A few weeks ago I posted Sylvia Plath quotes during a time of emotional upset, because YES, they DID relay how I was feeling – but I was then accused my MULTIPLE people of being unstable and suicidal, and worse than that, some people that I really care for were genuinely worried about me because they were reading more into the quotes themselves than what I’d actually written in my captions.

Because that’s what the little square is for – it keeps you from having to actually read, right? The whole point is the square and the image it holds, not the words underneath. Nobody has time for that anymore. Which is precisely why blogs are so different – people who visit blogs visit with the full intent of reading, because they can still read and take pleasure in it.

Anyway, I am just up to eyeballs in disgust for social media today and I’m struggling with making a decision about Instagram. I don’t want to stop Instagramming but I don’t like how swallowed, and how ungrounded and lost, I feel – in part because of the social media pressure… People develop expectations and you find yourself actually emotionally  affected by not wanting to let those people down, especially considering your main topic is such a hard one for people to find raw and real support around (mental illness) and that’s all you really want to do – is offer support by showing the ups and downs and darks and lights of your own experiences….

But maybe the truth is that I need to just support myself and stop worrying about supporting or being responsible for everyone else – because that’s the problem… I just need to set new boundaries (again), and change my posting to suit what I need it to be. I just don’t want to put on a fake show of how good things are and not talk about the hard things, because that’s another pet peeve I have with social media: the disgusting fakery…

Alas, I have rambled and I have been helped a bit by doing so and I’m grateful for the opportunity to bounce this off of someone else’s eyes/ears/brain… I appreciate you reading this (if you did…)…

Love to all… Have a GREAT WEEK, friends.

C.

One thought on “Stop it, Instagram…

  1. I only use IG for photos. Any new relationship I’ve formed there are art related. At least on my side of the screen they are.
    In general I have strong boundaries on social media.

    Like

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