In 2017 I read more than one blog post or article about how Instagram is killing stuff, impacting things, etc. I've seen several themes:
IG is negatively impacting The Wilderness: Trails are getting overrun by would-be adventurers. People are ending up needing to be rescued from cliffs and ledges and mountain tops because they came unprepared with one thing in mind - getting a shot for instagram.
IG is ruining creativity: Instagrammers aren't "adventuring," they're not looking for the next amazing place, they're going for the same shot with which dozens of others have gotten a million likes. They still want to go get a killer shot of #VCB and #RowenaCrest (guilty).
IG is shaping photography: Serious amateur and professional photographers are finding themselves awash in kids with really serious gear taking pictures of everything from daily life, street, espresso, you name it, and a lot of them are pulling it off. It makes us wonder, "what is the future and direction of photography?" and in 2018, the answer to that question must involve social media. It's not a perception, it's reality: our relationship with photography cannot be described without the word instagram.
If that's true and I'm serious about photography, why in the world would I click the button to delete my instagram accounts? Here are my honest answers:
1. Motives. When I plan my photographic life around what my little IG audience will 'like', what does that mean? I asked this question a lot for 3 years, but I never answered honestly, so I never acted on it. This year, I had to face it: I planned my outings and adventures and hikes with instagram in mind, and it really started to bug me.
2. Phone addiction. I gave up a couple of things this year for Lent. One was coffee, and the other was social media on my iPhone. I read an article, maybe you saw it, by the former google employees essentially blowing the whistle on the overt efforts by social media giants to make their interfaces as addictive as possible, to get you addicted to notifications and red banners, likes, affirmations, etc. etc. It really resonated with me. So I didn't hesitate, I long-clicked the icons for Instagram and facebook, deleting both off my phone.
After a few hours, I was a little 'itchy,' but after a day, after a week, I realized I was really going to like it. I started forgetting my phone. A Lot. Even now, weeks later, I still pull it out, stare at it for a second, realize I don't need to do anything on it, and put it away.
After 40 days of lent, I knew one thing for certain. I was not going to put Instagram back on my phone. No way. I had found extra hours in my day, and I wasn't giving them up. I was really enjoying the peace of mind that came from being free from phone addiction.
A week went by, then two, and finally last week, I decided that there was only one thing to do: Install Instagram, post a pic with a message that my adventure was continuing without Instagram, and about an hour later, I pulled the plug; I deleted my accounts and uninstalled the app for the last time. And the world did not end.
3. Most importantly, the answer involves the question: Who am I as a photographer? I need to find out if my obsession with photography can survive walking away from Instagram. I enjoy photography and I have nice gear. I love to hike; I daydream about it all the time, and I intend to hit it hard when the snow melts. But what will be my outlet? Who is my target audience? Who will 'Like' my photos now? What am I going to do with my photography? This became a driving reason to remove Instagram from my life: quit taking images that fit nicely in a square, and start thinking about what the heck I'm doing.
I forgot my phone at home twice this week, and I hardly missed it.