Good morning dear reader, I hope you are well.
I’ve been pondering my relationships with social media, in particular, Instagram.
I have noticed that on days when I am “on” IG a lot I feel less contented and happy. This isn’t even due to endless scrolling, as I don’t tend to do that a lot.
I think it is due to “likes”. This is what happens…I make a post.
Sometimes people “like” the post, they may even comment. Sometimes people don’t respond.
I then begin to reflect on what about the post they may have liked…was it the composition of the image, the content of the text, did I use the correct hashtags?
Then I try to make another post with the information I think I have deduced. Only it doesn’t work.
Now I am aware that there is a mysterious algorithm which runs IG. I suppose it would be too easy and we wouldn’t all have to work as hard and pay for advertising (I only did that once 😉 if it made sense to us…this article talks about how IG is designed to be as addictive as strong pain killers.
However what is striking me most today is how much using IG is like an emotionally abusive relationship.
Let’s cast IG as the significant other in this relationship.
Today I do something, and IG is happy, it smiles, offers me a hug, wants to celebrate time with me, buys me flowers, make me feel good. I bask in a sense of approval and belonging, here are my people, I am finally home.
Tomorrow I do the self-same thing, which I knew made it happy yesterday, but, rather than that warm, companionable sensation, it is cold, stony-faced, it cuts me out and cold shoulders me, laughing with people I know but not including me.
In the past I had a relationship with a human that was just like this, and I have the self-same emotional response with IG. Rather than taking my power back and saying [insert expletive here] I try to appease. I don’t step back, I try harder, I invest more…I check and double check, I criticise my own behaviour, I ask what I did wrong, trying everything I can to get back that sweet sense of approval and affirmation.
It took me a long time in my human relationship to realise what I needed to do.
I am just waking up to what I need to do with IG.
My life. My story. My choices.
First I need to see it for what it is, a communication channel, an app. A piece of software. There is no “personality” here, it’s just clever tech, and its designed specifically to get me hooked and keep me guessing.
Next I need to face up to the fact that if I’m not enjoying it I need to stop! I don’t know what that will look like yet. Cold turkey? Or some significant distance? I can put my phone onto “airplane” mode so that I don’t have internet access to help myself, and make sure there are times when it is out of the room.
While practical changes may help the biggest shift will be in mindset, that there is validity in what I do even if (wait for it…) I don’t share it. That I am keeping my promises to myself and others even if I don’t tell the internet. That I am worthwhile and precious and unique without having to try and prove it to 1 billion mostly strangers…
I am realising that while you “can’t stop the signal”, you sure can choose how much you plug into it.