On Sunday, I posted an Instagram post basically unloading my frustrations with Instagram, its algorithm and all of the mental behaviors associated with it. When I really started thinking about it, it almost felt like I was going through some jacked up version of the 7 stages of grief. Denial that IG isn’t the god-like platform we’ve all built it up to be, guilt over having contributed to its rise, anger and bargaining over multiple algorithm changes, and now I’m in the reflection stage.
1) The Algorithm
I’ve been blogging since I was 15 years old. These years are obviously very formative, and being one of the first generations who really grew up with the omnipresence of social media, I think my being so involved with Instagram and figuring it out as the platform grew wasn’t the healthiest thing I could’ve done? That said, I remember back then, that chronological order was far better for discovery purposes than the new “engagement” based algorithm. I could see my friends, brands and other bloggers I follow all in the order that they posted. Now, I can refresh the page upwards of 4 or 5 times and the same few photos will still be sitting on the top! This is actually why I discontinued my Best of Instagram series. I couldn’t find anything new or interesting anymore! All because IG decided that their “engagement” (like and comments + follower counts) made that photo worth promoting towards the top of my feed. I put engagement in quotes because a lot of engagement these days are inauthentic.
2) Like and Comment Pods + Individual Users
Firstly, you’ve got blogger like and comment pods. I’ll be fair and say I’ve been in a few, but I left because the work involved in keeping up with liking and commenting on a few other bloggers’ posts was never worth the return on your own. Not to mention, half of the people participating in these groups are already in the thousands of followers, so I don’t see why they need our engagement. But basically, a member of the pod will post a photo and then everyone in the pod is required to go like and/or leave a “substantial” comment (ie 4 or more words, no emojiis). I found that while some of the smaller pod members would leave actual comments on the subject of a photo, others would say something like “Love it” and keep moving.
Plus, between F4F (follow for follow) hashtags, spam accounts, and users who “blog” so they can “get free stuff”, blogger Instagram, at least, is oversaturated with those that, it seems, have forgotten about the craft of blogging. It feels inauthentic and as part of a generation that values authenticity in everything, I constantly wonder why we subject ourselves to something like IG.
3) Stories, Shadowbans and Beyond
There are a few other smaller things about IG that get on my nerves but not as much as the aforementioned problems. IG as a platform is shady AF. How on earth we all let Facebook (who owns IG if you missed that) blatantly rip off Snapchat’s stories function, I will never understand. I guess it all depends on who you actually want to see what you’re doing because on Snap, it’s more for your friends, and on IG it’s for your “business contacts”. Regardless, as a business that’s irritating to watch and doesn’t put IG in a great light for me. Add on the fact that only accounts with 10k+ followers can utilize links in their stories (which are often more viewed than photos), and it just seems unbalanced.
Then we’ve got hashtags and shadowbans. It’s bad enough that in order to try and move my photo up, I need to utilize all 30 hashtags that we’re allowed in the caption of a post. But now, if I use the hashtags that have garnered the most attention too much, IG will just stop showing them in the search results! It’s like all of the chips are stacked against smaller accounts as opposed to a platform like Twitter or Pinterest where good quality content is the only thing required to gain a substantial platform.
I feel like I’ve let a massive load off of my chest. No, I don’t claim to be “not like the other girls” or “not basic” or whatever some people my age who shun social media claim to be. I just believe that my generation has the power to enact change in most everything we do, so sitting here and subjecting myself to a platform I really don’t like just because it’s what’s there and it’s what everyone else is using. Am I going to keep using Instagram? Yes. Will I be changing the way I interact with the platform? Also, yes. Instagram only has as much power as we the users give it, and I think there are much better ways to interact with it in an authentic way without trying to trick the algorithm or other users.
I hope you guys enjoyed this introspective type post because I think I’m going to be doing more of these, starting with Taylor Swift’s merch marketing! What are your thoughts on Instagram and social medias in general? Leave me a thought in the comments, and I’ll see you next week.