After having a conversation with a friend, I decided to share some thoughts on this topic. My social media fatigue started years ago with Facebook. It was filled with updates from people I wouldn’t otherwise hang out with on a personal level about topics that a lot of which didn’t interest me, for example babies and sport. I got tired of muting such posts (including other topics; and racists), and deleted the app from my phone; then never remembered to log in via the web; then deactivated my account altogether (before the Cambridge Analytica scandal). I have to add that FB’s behaviour also played a part in my decision, and with the way things have been playing out lately, it’s just getting worse.
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The thing is, we all are individuals with varying interests and we can choose what we want to see on our feeds. I know some of my tech, food, or travel updates could be irritating to some, in which case feel free to unfollow or mute. I promise not to take it personally.
I’ve started feeling this way about Instagram, which I’m so torn about. It used to be my favourite platform, having signed up since the beta in 2010, before influencers existed and changed what it supposed to be. We’ve since accepted the change and followed people for their ‘interesting’ and very curated lifestyles.
Some of the fatigue comes from seeing the same shit, different day on Stories. Where’s the creativity? Why is everyone using the same filters on their photo feed (it’s 2019, camera quality is the best it’s ever been)? Why does it all feel mundane? Is this what it feels like when you’re on social media for so long? I feel like I’m on season 10 of people’s every day life yet IG stories has only been around since August 2016. It’s so ironic that I feel like this is linear television and I want to switch off.
It also brings me to my next point: how much of what we do on social media is because we feel obliged? I’ve found that knowing people in real life doesn’t necessarily mean you want to follow them on social media, and that’s OK. For example, I try to keep my Twitter focused on tech and it’s getting more difficult these days. My muted keywords list is probably longer than my following list. Similarly, I know brilliant minds in real life who are not active on social media but I wish they were.
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I’ve been put off from my main IG account because of the onslaught of spam; I’m not exaggerating when I say I have to block followers, comments and photo tags all the time. My DMs are another story; aside from the creepy men, it’s also the girls who ask me to change my username. And what is up with men who try to video chat you? GTFO. (Thank goodness it goes to my requests folder otherwise I woulda deleted the app ages ago).
On the other hand, my food account sparks joy because I prefer a smaller, niche audience who share the same interests as me. It gets more engagement and support, too, which at times can be encouraging.
I’ve been monitoring my mobile usage via the weekly reports that iOS12 provides (IG also has this feature built-into your profile) and get so happy when my percentage drops each week, because it means I’m using my phone less. I’m focusing my time and energy on being productive. This includes writing (tons of it, going through my weeks by deadlines – something every freelance professional can identify with but not complain about), cooking healthy and working out. All of which makes me happy because I know I’m doing something worthwhile, with tangible results.
For all the complaining I’ve done so far in this post, I’ve taken some action. I’ve unfollowed, muted, and check feeds occasionally. I’ve attempted to post less crap myself. I watch IG stories when I have time to spare (on WiFi). I’ve changed my way of thinking to that I need to be productive with my time otherwise I’m wasting my life away.
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I’d rather write an article (and get paid) or workout for an hour than sit on Instagram. I don’t expect other people to understand my point of view because we all have different priorities in life.
One of my goals this year was to spend less time watching IG stories and I’ve been doing that. Sometimes followers think they are entitled to your time and you must sit and type lengthy replies for them when they ask questions, especially ones that don’t interact with you normally. I’ve got actual work to do.
I no longer respond to travel related questions because it requires time and it’s not a priority. I travel for fun, and having to write about it sucks the joy out of it, that’s why I don’t blog travel posts by country anymore. I’m not a travel agent and I see how they can still be useful today because they get paid. On my last trip to Europe, I didn’t plan as much as I normally do and used Google Maps and the weather to determine my plans each day. When I have time, I try to respond to people who’ve read my bio that says ‘No DMs’ and email me instead, for quick advice.
I don’t know what’s going to be ‘the next big thing’ but I’m feeling the need to disconnect more and more each day.
Twitter can stay though, because it’s real and you can have more meaningful discussions.
Welcome to Wired to the Web. My name is Nafisa Akabor and I’m a technology journalist covering business and consumer tech for the last 15 years. I’m passionate about start-ups, smartphones, mobile payments, travel tech and electric cars. ✉️ email@example.com