I read an article recently that called out Instagram as the worst social media platform for mental health. Said article also presented a pretty scathing profile of a lot of “insta-famous” mothers who live in Byron Bay. While there were some salient points, I thought it was pretty harsh. And I felt it unfairly placed too much blame (and therefore, power) in the hands of the “Influencer.”
I agree that Instagram has, no doubt, become an algorithmic marketing machine, full of accounts that seem to be making people feel worse, not better. Consequently, there is a backlash against Instagram as a platform, but more so, against the Influencers who seem to be profiting from the platform, both in actual currency and the currency of social status. How many followers you have seems to outweigh pretty much every other measure of worthiness in our culture. And that is truly sad.
That said, I think we need to take a beat to be accountable and recognize our own responsibility as users of the platform. In other words – don’t hate the player, hate the game.
YOUR FOLLOW IS FEEDING THE MACHINE
Here’s what I mean. The huge numbers of people following accounts that make them feel like shit are the ones perpetuating the success of those accounts. No one is forcing you to follow anyone! And it’s your follow that creates the access marketers are seeking through Influencers. It’s your follow that encourages the Influencers to keep posting beautiful, unrealistic, sunset-inspo, skirt-swishing, deeply-tanned, on-perpetual-holiday highlight reels. Your follow is feeding the machine.
INSTA IS A TWO-WAY STREET
I am not, by any means, suggesting that we all delete Instagram. Nor am I saying that we should do away with beautiful photography and curated feeds. And I’m not dissing Influencers. It’s a powerful tool for connection and there are plenty of accounts out there who are being of service to others through education and inspiration (which, for the record, is not the same as “inspo”).
I’m just reminding you that the Influencer things works two ways. This is a unique platform where your vote counts. The marketers who pay the bills for influencers will lose interest if there aren’t masses of people fixated on their accounts. They need your follow to qualify for Influencer status.
TAKE BACK YOUR POWER
This might sound a little rough, but I’m going to say it anyway. It is incredibly indulgent to complain about a dynamic that you yourself are helping to create. By following people who make you feel less-than, you are literally giving your power away. So take it back. Take responsibility for your role in and your experience of social media.
VOTE WITH YOUR FOLLOW
Be conscious of who and what you are worshiping at the altar of social media. Be discerning. CHOSE who you really want to be influenced by. CHOSE to support the people who are helping you feel better, not worse. Vote with your follow.
THE FEEL-GOOD FEED CHECKLIST
Here’s a checklist I use to make sure that my feed is 100% Feel-Good.
3 Criteria For A Feel-Good-Feed
- UPLIFTING Does it inspire and uplift me? Do I feel more positive and lighter? (Remember: inspiration is different than “inspo”)
- ILLUMINATING Does it educate me, upgrade my knowledge or expand my awareness? Do I feel expanded and empowered?
- CONNECTION Does it make me feel more (or less) connected? Do I feel a sense of resonance and community?
Bottom line: Instagram is ripe with opportunities for real connection, friendship, good vibes and true inspiration. It’s up to you to decide whether that is your experience or not. Vote with your follow.