…or Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.
This post doesn’t really have all that much to do with art, but it does answer (at length…) a question many people who stumble across this blog may have: so why the heck aren’t you on Instagram like all the other artists?
I’ll give you the TL;DR up front: I spent a large chunk of my youth on social media and I have experienced for myself just how damaging it can be. It is only through leaving, rejoining, and leaving again that I have come to see clearly what these sites do to me. I find myself much happier and less stressed now that I no longer participate on these sites.
I don’t think the internet is inherently evil or that we should all collectively throw our smartphones out the nearest window, but I do think that reevaluating our relationships with these things is a worthwhile endeavor.
So if you happen to be interested in a long story about why I have such a strong disdain for short-form blogging platforms with purposefully addictive algorithms, feel free to read on.
The full story:
I used to be a very active participant on social media. I practically lived on Tumblr from 2012 through 2017. I actually met my current partner on Tumblr after setting up a OkCupid account, linking my blog, and then forgetting about my OkCupid. So it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t spent so much time on social media.
A growing awareness of the ill effects of social media began to plague me some time in early 2018. I started to realize that I liked my real-life friends more if I didn’t know what kind of nonsense they were getting up to on Facebook. Facebook was the first account to go, after I realized I only ever opened it out of compulsive habit and then left immediately because I knew I didn’t actually want to be there. It’s been 4 years now since I left Facebook, and I haven’t had a single ounce of regret nor the slightest desire to rejoin since.
The next to go was Tumblr, at which point I also dropped all social media I had at the time. Leaving Tumblr was the hardest because so much of my life had been spent there, but at that point I realized I was doing the same thing I did on Facebook: logging in, scrolling really really fast down the feed, and then closing the tab again. Over and over. The party was over for me and it was time for the compulsion to end.
Instagram and Twitter are another story. I have left and rejoined both sites more than once, but at the time of writing this I’m pretty sure I’m done with them for good.
By October of 2020 (there really is something about that month…) the loneliness of the pandemic really sank in. I decided against my better judgement to rejoin Instagram, and later Twitter as well, because what the hell else could I do!? I needed human contact. Unfortunately it ultimately made me feel even lonelier.
I started to become an “influencer” type when I ran a hair growth blog through Instagram, while maintaining an art account on the side. During this time my average daily screentime was 8+ hours, not even the slightest bit of an exaggeration, and I spent any time away from it obsessing about interactions I had with others there or about what my next post would be. I was neglecting my real-life relationship for shallow digital connections with people I had never even met and never would.
At some point I got completely overwhelmed by my Instagram feed. I decided I needed to thoroughly declutter who I was following on my art account and only follow the accounts that truly brought me inspiration and joy. This of course, caused me a massive drop in followers as many of them only followed me because I followed them. I realized how few people really cared about my art, and how many only cared about advancing their own numbers.
I started this blog before starting that Instagram account, and my original intention for making a new art account was to direct traffic here! But as you can see it sucked me right back into it’s algorithm-fueled mania, even though I had been so happy without social media for over a year prior.
When I eventually did leave Instagram altogether, not a single person attempted to contact me, despite my last post containing my personal email address in case anyone cared enough to reach out. I think that was really the last straw for me, I knew those connections would never be what I wanted them to be, so I really don’t see me going back again.
My 2nd Twitter account (I remember very little about my 1st account, which I hadn’t used very much anyway) came about as a way to keep track of the election news. You may have guessed it by now, but I am definitely not a Trump supporter. I’m not a Biden supporter either, but “lesser of the two evils” and all that nonsense. My favorite quote from directly after Biden was elected was “I’m celebrating a Trump loss, not a Biden victory.” And that about sums up how I felt about the whole thing. After the dust had settled I realized I had no more use for the site and I discarded it once more.
But then came a 3rd Twitter account, which may have lasted the shortest amount of time but nonetheless had a lasting impact. I created a Twitter account so I could easily upload screenshots from Animal Crossing New Horizons onto the internet directly from my Switch. I then decided to make it into an actual ACNH blog, so I could see more content from my favorite game and interact with other fans. But I soon realized I found the whole thing incredibly exhausting. I became quite physically aware of the impact such sites have on my attention span, I found myself with noticably more brain fog and fatigue. I left silently. I haven’t even been back to delete the thing, but now that Elon Musk has acquired the site I plan on doing that soon.
Nowadays I still occasionally use Reddit. Reddit has been around in the background for years, never being my main thing but still occasionally becoming a problem. I have had and deleted countless Reddit accounts, as I tend to delete my account as soon as I come into any sort of conflict. It’s just too easy to do, create a new account, delete it after a month… Probably because the goal isn’t to create a following like on Instagram and Twitter. There’s much less to lose by simply up and leaving. I just hate conflict so much, and every time it comes up I find my fight or flight response kick in, and rather than pointlessly argue with an internet stranger I find it quite satisfying to delete my entire account and avoid the entire site for a while.
The reason I currently still have a Reddit account is only because I sometimes find myself with a question I desperately want answered, but Google is of no help. Usually something along the lines of “has anyone else ever been through this really rough emotional thing I’m going through currently?” And I believe this is exactly the reason Reddit always becomes a problem in my life whenever something big and serious happens, I get locked into a scroll loop “researching” similar happenings in the lives of others. Plus of course the occasional funny cat video.
This happened to me again just recently, after the sudden death of my grandfather. Because his death was a tragic and preventable accident it was just that much harder to cope with, so of course I turned to Reddit to ask if anyone had a similar story. I’m not even upset about my using it for that purpose, I don’t mind using the site as a tool, but when I find myself constantly checking and rechecking or scrolling and scrolling… That’s when I have a problem with it.
Luckily I thought to rejoin the /nosurf subreddit again, which always reminds me of my intentions to minimize my time on the site. Ironically that sub itself was part of my scroll loop this time around, but that’s to be expected. It’s like having an AA meeting at a bar. In some way it makes sense though, as you’ll find the most addicts where they use their drug of choice, and with the world in the state it’s in many people still choose not to attend offline events. I’m one of those people, forgoing many real-life get-togethers to protect my unvaccinated 6 month old daughter.
At the time of writing this though, I have successfully weaned myself off once more. When I do check in I try to make it quick and intentional, and have another task lined up so I immediately have another thing to direct my attention to. It helps that my daughter wants a lot of undivided attention and is very loud when she doesn’t get her way!
What makes WordPress different? Well first of all it’s a long-form blogging platform, where one is expected to write at length rather than ignored for doing so. This decreases throughput and vastly reduces the ability to addict readers (though of course I’m sure it still happens! Just not systematically.) Secondly, most people who read WordPress blogs do not even have WordPress accounts themselves. They may not even realize the site they are on is run by WordPress! Because of this, likes and comments are comparatively rare, which makes it easier for me to disregard the numbers. These things are exactly why I chose to be here. It’s the closest thing I can get to having my own personal website without having to pay for one.
Long-form blogging is a “dying” art, which is perfect for me actually, as I’d much prefer an audience of quality over quantity anyway. I prefer to speak my truth at whatever length I desire and let those who jive with it come to me. I don’t need to appeal to the masses, I just want to connect with like-minded individuals.
I think this long story has gone on long enough though, so let’s wrap it up with a summary: I have engaged with many social media platforms throughout my life, (some of which I haven’t even listed here because that would be far too long a story for even my liking,) and through my experiences came to my own conclusion that these sites harm my well being. Now I no longer use most of them, and the ones I do I use sparingly and try to use mindfully.
I want to live my life free from the grips of addiction and this is just one of many I’ve struggled with. I am still working on myself, learning and growing every day. So if you’ve read all of this I hope you can respect my decision to abstain from the likes of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! Continue to do whatever works best for you though, I’m just sharing my own personal experience.
See you in the next post, whenever that may be. It’s all up to me! 😊