I took a Break from Instagram — And This is What I Learned

Two weeks ago, I stopped using Instagram. To be honest, I didn’t stop using Instagram because of a latent New Year’s Resolution or a personal goal to myself. Instead, I stopped using Instagram simply because I forgot my password and was too lazy to change it. I kept telling myself that I would — finally — change my password the next day, but then the next day would get here and I would tell myself the same thing. I kept telling this to myself day after day.

As I did so, I noticed that the stiffening pressure that surrounded me like an invisible bubble would slowly start to thin until it was no longer there. I no longer felt that constricting need to have to post day by day just so I can maintain my ranking in the mysterious Instagram algorithm. I no longer had to post a new story every hour just to let people know what I was doing. And best of all, I no longer had to obsess over how many followers I had, and then worry pointlessly as I watch that number fluctuate by the hour.

As I write this now, I am about two weeks free of Instagram and I couldn’t be happier. I rebranded my Instagram page about eight months ago with the intention of learning how to use Instagram effectively, while growing my own following, but what resulted was more than I could have ever gambled. I realized in the end that I learned more from Instagram during my two week (and counting!) hiatus than I have ever learned during those eight months. This is what I learned when I took a break from Instagram.

Instagram is a visual platform

Anyone who sees or visits the Instagram app for the first time is aware of this fact: Instagram is a visual platform, plain and simple. Instagram users visit Instagram to be entertained. They visit Instagram for the pretty pictures and the fun reels. They visit Instagram so they can smile, laugh, and be amused. I know this because it is what I do too. I find myself scrolling down the feed, endlessly entertained by the music, dancing, and pictures as the time slips on by.

Because Instagram is such a visual platform, people aren’t there to read a long, wordy article. They aren’t there to click away from the Instagram app to another page, one which they might quite possibly not even be familiar with. They are there just to have fun. Of course, there are people who will visit the blog and read the article, if they are interested in the content. In particular, I find that blog posts about Instagram tips and tricks, Instagram hacks, and even social media tips are most effective in gaining traction on Instagram. But in general, considering that most people spend no more than five seconds per Instagram post as their fingers quickly scroll past to the next content, it is no surprise that Instagram is the hardest platform for bloggers to use to promote their work.

[See also: How to Create the Perfect Instagram Post]

You owe the world nothing

When I was on Instagram, I felt as if I had to share every minute of my day. When I didn’t, I felt guilty. But then during my two week hiatus, I realized that I didn’t owe the world anything. I didn’t need to share and tell the world what I was doing, what project I was working on, and my goals for the future. I could just write, work, and do what I need to do without having to schedule in Instagram posts and stories in between. I could finally just be free.

The thing about Instagram, and even social media, is that you start feeling as if you should share everything. But you owe the world nothing. You don’t have to share anything. You don’t have to be on Instagram, or any social media platform. You can live a full life without that instant gratification and virtual community that social media brings. Instagram is great but at the end of the day you need to set boundaries so that you can separate your real, physical life from the life that you share on screen. Not doing so can cause the two lives to merge so much in a way that in the end you can’t tell where one life begins and one life ends.

The social media world will keep on turning

Whether you take an hour long break or a six month break, the social media world will keep on turning. In the grand scheme of things, you are just one user amongst millions — billions! — of users. When you take a break from Instagram, people will keep on posting pictures, posting stories, and creating reels. Just because you aren’t there any longer doesn’t mean people will pause. Of course, there will be some people who might stop and wonder what happened, but over time, they too will just move on. Similar to Earth, the social media world will keep on turning with or without you.

The follower count is just a number

One of the things that I was constantly fixated upon was how many followers I had. I would track that number often very obsessively, celebrating each time I reached a new milestone. But then I noticed that sometimes that number would also dip down, making the process of growing my account even more frustrating. I’ve mentioned that Instagram is a hard social media platform for bloggers, and it is also a hard platform to grow your following. On Instagram, it is easy to gain followers who are inauthentic, even spammy, or people who are simply following for the sake of following. There are people who will unfollow you at the very next opportunity without first seeking an authentic connection.

All of this constant tracking of the number of followers only to be disheartened by losing a few of them almost daily is enough to make anyone feel disheartened and disappointed. Unlike the other social media platforms, this number changes constantly on Instagram. Unless you have pictures that are extremely beautiful, or you yourself are a celebrity, it is hard to grow.

[See also: 4 Easy Tips on How to Increase Engagement on Instagram]

Conclusion

During the past two weeks, I worried endlessly about how my Instagram page would do in my absence. I knew that I should be posting and engaging with the community to grow my brand and rank higher on the Instagram algorithm. But as time went by, I started to feel better as I was relived from the pressure and stress at having to create the perfect Instagram post or creating a new reel to attract new followers. I also fretted about the possiblity that I would lose even more followers.

But now, I am at a point that I am okay with that. When it comes to social media, what is important is not what content that you create. What is important is that you are able to stay healthy, mentally and emotionally, while juggling your “real” and virtual lives. What is important is that you are able to set appropriate boundaries so that both of these lives aren’t being merged in a way that is unhealthy and detrimental to your health.

I’m sure that I will eventually get back onto Instagram. I’m not sure, however, when I will. Whether it happens tomorrow, next week, next month, or even a year from now, I will get back onto Instagram when I feel ready. And when I do, I will log onto Instagram with the intention of creating content for me that is authentic, while also maintaining a distance between my two worlds. I will also strive to not worry about how many followers I have, or how many conversions I manage to get on a particular day, but rather how even just one individual person felt about my Instagram or blog post. If I can use Instagram to affect just one person positively, then that should be enough.

Do you use Instagram? Why or why not?

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Hi! I'm Helen and I am a 31 year old hapa mom raising two multiracial children. I am a writer, English consultant, and social media manager. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic.

25 thoughts on “I took a Break from Instagram — And This is What I Learned

  1. I dont use instagram because I am not tech savvy..and I all ready spend too much time on my cell phone..Facebook, news, emails, etc. This blog is very helpful. Good subject for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I follow my daughter who is a professional photographer. (www.jennifercalderon.co) She posts a lot of weekly stuff in a lifestyle-type routine, documenting her mountain climbing, cycling, and tennis playing. Also, I follow my son’s construction work (welder) but he doesn’t post that often. Other than that, I just surf the photographers who travel the world over. I very seldom post my own stuff but will reply to those I find interesting.

    If there were something educational or worth reading on IG, or FB, or Twitter, I might like it more. I much prefer following my blogger friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! I think that is the problem in the Instagram world. A lot of it is purely for entertainment purposes, or educational but in a very fun way. So people just perceive Instagram as a platform to have fun and not so much to really learn or converse about serious topics on, as you can on blogging platforms and sometimes on Twitter too.

      Like

  3. It’s so true that Instagram is visual, my friend once remarked that it is like one big billboard.
    I took a month’s break from Facebook- and despite having a large following, I learned later on that life goes on- whether I post anything or not, whether I check it or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is a really good blog and one that made me think! I agree that the follower count is just a number, and doesn’t really mean anything in the grand scheme of things! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with your points and have also stopped using the ‘gram as much. I noticed that it didn’t bring much traffic to my blog, so I didn’t feel lime sharing personal pictures. Tough cookie that one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes same here. Also even if you did get that coveted 10k with the ability to link in stories I doubt it would bring a significant more conversions. its just not the ideal niche for bloggers.

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    1. Yes I definitely understand that. I probably was getting about 1 view for every 1k followers. But it does depend very much on what type of blog post it is and whether it serves any purpose for your Instagram demographic

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent post. Yes, Instagram is really a tough platform for bloggers to promote. There are many bloggers who start and quit instagram because it is very tough to follow your gram and blog along. It’s one of the source but a tough source to bring traffic to your blog. Thanks for sharing your learnings! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure.
        Yes, I can give a suggestion. It all squares down to your blog niche; whether your Instagram page would covert that traffic to your blog. As you have pointed out Instagram is a source of entertainment, people scroll looking for posts related to their daily activities, memes, music, etc. So, if your blog niche is related to their liking you should certainly promote your blog on Instagram. Otherwise also you can start a page on Instagram but without the hope of diverting any traffic to your blog.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s good to take a break from social media. I love taking breaks. Also I tell myself if I don’t have anything post I don’t have to post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for these insights regarding Instagram, Helen. I do have an Instagram account, but I have never used it. I have followed a couple of people here to support their page initially. After your post I feel I can rest easy now and let Instagram go on its own merry way without any contributions from me 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I havent had social media in years (except pinterest here and there) When I did have it, I didn’t use it much. We don’t need to be constantly updating people about our lives. Before all these apps and always having our phones- not even just a phone- the internet- in reach, people got by just fine. Im glad I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was 16, that good old flip phone I used to call, text and take small, low quality photos on, haha. Today’s world is so different. I feel like social media is the best way to let people know about my site. So, I recently created an Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to grow an audience for my new site. Although many people are on WordPress, I feel most aren’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I agree that we don’t need to constantly update on social media though the pressure to do so is always there. but since using social media to grow your blog is essential…. we’ve got to find a balance between the two – how to spend enough time promoting while also not letting it consume our entire lives.

      Liked by 1 person

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