Might we glean something from this dreaded word, and might I possibly be the last person to come to this seemingly obvious conclusion? Forgive me in advance if youâ€™re miles ahead.
In a conversation with one of my favorite clients recently, when I shared my own (common/clichÃ©d/sadly normal) conflict around certain feeds on Instagram, he told me this:
â€œYouâ€™re not alone. I just unfollowed everyone I know so that I can exclusively follow the people who truly inspire me.â€
What a novel idea! (first thought.)
What if I offend them? (second thought.)
What if they donâ€™t even notice? (third / but not final thought.)
And later, in the post-conversation-mental-marinade, the justification cycle went something like this:
But I follow them to know what theyâ€™re doing, because itâ€™s part of my job to be aware and connected to the marketplace, to observe influencers, and because my peer group follows them, and because they like my stuff so I should like their stuff, and becauseÂ 40k other people follow them soâ€¦maybe I should tooâ€¦and so on.
Lately, Iâ€™ve found myself flattened more than inspired, after looking at Instagram. And, the data says there are a lot of us. While I love posting and sharing with my own followers, because it feels warm and cozy, I feel unprepared with what sometimes reaches out from the screen and slaps me around a little â€“ messages that annoy and provoke and then linger like a low-grade fever. Certainly not a crisis or even a curveball, they are much more a commentary about what provokes feelings I donâ€™t deem worthy than of any wrongdoing by anyone else.
Logic would have it that if something feels bad, it is bad. But that ainâ€™t Insta. With inspiration, connection and beauty can sometimes come addiction, bitterness, and envy. It is a platform that shines at presenting one (gorgeous) version of everyday reality.Â While it doesnâ€™t take much time relative to the course of a day or week, the focus that it does pull seems out of whack with my priorities. It beckons me to questionable places â€“ unproductive lines of dialogue that would otherwise never start.
So why do I/we persist?
Because the world does it?
Because the dopamine outweighs the depression?
Weâ€™ve become a little bit enamored with knowing whatâ€™s up with other people. Itâ€™s fun. Itâ€™s voyeuristic. It can be awesome sometimes.
One route is to unfollow, assuming you have the willpower to do it. But even if you can check that box, this platform remains a fixture for most of us because the good outweighs the bad. It calls for resolution, one way or the other.
As for me, Iâ€™ve reframed the Insta visual playground and am #following the Marie Kondo approach to social media in general:
Is there joy? If not = â€œunfollow.â€