Something strange happened to me about 6 weeks ago. I was scrolling on Instagram and I came across a post about a portfolio review for creative technologists. A voice in my mind whispered "If I don't get into this, I'll be so pissed off". I was shooketh by how negative my inner voice reacted to seeing this. I applied for it and I gained some great insights from it, but that's beside the point. I felt deeply competitive, insecure and anxious when I saw that post and saw it shared by people in my network.
This was the turning point in me taking a hiatus from the app. I felt controlled by it, my emotions attached to the ebb and flow of who was paying attention to me. I kept my account activated to check messages once in a while, incase someone approached me for freelance work or something 'important'. Just in case.
This is not the first and only time I was affected by what I call the 'comparison game', constantly thinking about what people thought about me in this never ending feedback loop. The kind of work they were producing, how often they were making and sharing stuff, the clients they worked for an the engagement they were receiving. It's embarassing to admit that I was ruminating on my follower ratio, thinking about how to 'grow' my account for the wishful desire that I'd somehow get more clout, recognition and ... hopefully clients and money. I thought that because my Insta was about my art & portfolio for people to quickly browse what I do, I thought I was immune to the comparison game. It caught up to me eventually.
I rarely posted my body or my face, so I didn't think social media had a hold on my self-esteem. Like many others, I started being more personable on my account and adding selfies on my post to drive 'engagement'. Somewhere along the line, like many other artists, I realised a post of my face would get more likes than just my work insert reference. Not only that, but I thought often about getting a Tiktok because everyone 'blows up' on there and my virality would soothe my wounded internet persona. So many people of my generation think they can be influencersinsert reference. I'm not surprised, but its a zero-sum game.
I thought that I was immune, but I had blindly found myself stuck in the BUMMER machine. I'll add some thoughts on my recent read of John Lanier's '10 Reason to Delete Your Social Media Accounts' but David Wineberg does it pretty well here
On Christmas day I logged in on my phone's browser to try to repost my sister's story of us, and instead I became irritable and panicked when I saw some messages. I deactivated my account that evening.
Here's what I'm going to do. For the next six months, I'm going to abstain from using Insta and twitter. I occasionally tweet into the void for my audience of 4 followers but maybe even sporadically using that platform is negatively affecting my world view and sense of self. 6 months is a long time and it's a privilege that I have the means (hopefully) of taking a long break
However, I'm not burrowing myself under a rock and escaping society. I have subscribed to some great writers on Substack, which is becoming my favourite place to read insightful things, but I'm also thinking about what news outlets or publications I should pay attention to. I need something to scroll. One is MIT Tech Review but I also want international news because reading and thinking about the U.S constantly is a bore. I'm also keeping my Linkedin active and will try to use The Dots - a creative network. These are all about 'professional' connections. I used to scoff at Linkedin that it was all fake and about boasting one's achievements, but its one of the few social media places I have never experienced or seen trolling and hatred spread like wildfire.
If you have any recommendations of publications you like reading, or good investigative journalism, you can email me! 💌 email@example.com
Oh yeah, I'm trying out a new email, let's see what it takes to move away from the Google ecosystem.
Stay tuned for my update in June