Annnnnddd, I’m back.
It’s the beginning of January, and I’m coming back to the goals I’d managed to utterly fail at every other time of the year. What is it about the new year that makes us think that somehow “this time, I’ll stick to it!”? So, like everyone else that’s dusting off that DSLR for their defunct Youtube channel, or hopping on that elliptical after 6 months, or grabbing that diet cookbook, I’m back on the blogging train.
Except, this time, I’ll stick to it! And, here’s why…
I quit Instagram.
The decision to permanently log off my personal Instagram account and remove the app from my iPhone was a long time coming. For months, I’d wrestled with the idea of “connecting” with people on this all-consuming platform. In 2012, I created my Instagram account after learning that you could edit and share your photos on it. And, having recently picked up an interest in photography, and only having the technical know-how to use my iPhone to take pictures, this felt like a natural move for me. Unfortunately, what followed over the years was witnessing the platform become increasingly more commercial, selfie-driven, and suddenly everyone was a model and an “influencer”. And, though I’m a huge proponents of carving a path for yourself, and finding a way to make money doing it, the nature of the app, and the passive scroll-through culture that it had bred no longer felt right for me. It became all-too-clear that Instagram was now the home of bathroom “belfies“, hyper-curated travel photos (which I’ll admit, I’ve fallen prey to, myself), and of course, the perfectly laid out hotel room service breakfast spreads at luxury resorts. I mean, give me a break!
Why I didn’t just unfollow.
What followed from this decision was the inevitable suggestions from people attempting to help me with my “problem”. Here’s the thing – though I’ll admit I was spending (*wasting) an enormous amount of time mindlessly scrolling through pictures of the Royal Fab Four, that’s exactly what the app has been designed and optimized for us to do. User retention and engagement is the key performance indicator for social media platforms, and Instagram is the very best at this. In fact, they’re even beginning to compete with Youtube with longer-form content, by way of IGTV, all for the purposes of keeping you on the app longer.
So, who among us can confidently say that they don’t get sucked into the proverbial vortex that is Instagram? The answer isn’t as simple as “why didn’t you just unfollow those accounts?”. Everything from the way IG stories are laid out, to the discover page, everything on Instagram is thoughtfully and intentionally designed to keep us engaged (*distracted) for as long as possible. That way they can promote user retention and engagement rates to sell the platforms to advertisers. Unfollow certain accounts, and you’ll just get sucked into other accounts through your discover page. It’s a tangled web they weave!
How connected are we, really?
Even while I was on Instagram, you likely wouldn’t find pictures of the many times my girlfriends and I get together and lounged around in one of our apartments, laughing our asses off! You wouldn’t find many IG stories of date nights with my husband. And, you wouldn’t find even a fraction of the breathtaking moments I enjoyed while on my many travels. Not because I don’t care to share them, but because I want to fully take in those moments, for myself. I want to be fully present and fully engaged in my life and be with those whom I love and cherish. Despite being pretty good at this before, I no longer wanted to even be a part of the culture around Instagram. I wanted to truly connect with people, not just be another mindless scroll through on their feed of hundreds and hundreds of images.
It’s not all bad, I know.
The last few weeks of being off Instagram have been really hard, to be honest. Not because I feel the need to keep checking my phone, but because I have no idea what’s going on in people’s lives anymore. I miss keeping up with the milestones in people’s personal and professional lives. Also, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to “meet” or discover new, interesting people. That’s a real concern. But, I’m old enough to remember what life was like before social media (and even the internet). Somehow people still managed to meet new people, make connections, and grow their businesses. So, yes, I see the immense value in these types of platforms and apps, and they’ve made millionaires out of every day people, but I’ll just have to get creative and find another way.
Back to blogging.
I may be going backwards, but what I was attempting to do on Instagram might not have been the best place to do so. I wanted to connect with people in an authentic way – ask meaningful questions, have a conversations, and talk about business, money, and work. But, unless I was posting selfies, I wasn’t getting engagement. Or, people would give me a friendly nod with their double taps, and not really tap into the conversation or message behind the post. I wanted to wrestle with ideas – dive deeper into the things I was learning as I traveled the world, built my business(es), and lived life as a modern woman. So, I decided to bring these thoughts, and these conversations, back to my blog.
This is a place where I can grapple with, iron out, and share my ideas – whether I’m learning something new about being a wife, how to hire a new team member, developing a project for Paper & Coin, or simply sharing about my latest jaunt around the globe. This will be my new home base. And, the reason it’ll stick this time is because I no longer have the crutch of Instagram. Now, rather than passively posting images, I’ll more intentional about what I’m sharing here, instead.
Because, the truth is, I really do enjoy sharing these aspects of my life. I want to connect with people, know what’s happening in their lives, and of course, inspire people to go after their dreams. I just don’t want to have to do it after you just looked at a picture of some random girl’s ass in a public bathroom. And, as enticing as that may sound to some of you, I hope you’ll follow along with my belfie-less journey here anyway.
Here’s to a new year with more growth, more adventure, and less flat lays of avocado toast and latte art,