COVID Chronicles: I Got Sucked into Instagram and COVID-19 is My Cue to Exit
For a long time, I’ve been one of those “I don’t really use Facebook much” people. When I log on, I almost immediately feel the urge to get out. Much like how I’d feel at a insanely overcrowded reunion party. Guests feel obligated to converse, so we chat awkwardly, rage about politics, and then overshare our personal lives to fill the silence. It’s not fun for me.
Lately, Instagram has given me the same discomfort.
I started an Instagram account associated with this blog because...it’s what people do! “Expand your audience.” “Make connections.” Well, I’m fortunate in that I HAVE made some extremely positive connections via Instagram. Internet friendships with people close and far geographically, but as genuine as any IRL relationships I’ve had. But expanding my audience? Instead of focusing on this blog –which I intended to be my writing outlet- I've focused on the social media game. Get more likes, comments, and followers. Increase your engagement.
The result is an overcrowded party by my own creation.
In my experience, the only way to increase your engagement is to, well, engage. Usually with strangers. You interact with lots of accounts each day in hopes that a connection is made and that they’ll enjoy and interact with your content as well. Except, I’m not the only one doing this. Everyone and their brother is an Instagram "influencer" these days, all chasing the same thing. So, our interactions devolve into transactions. An unsaid “if you like and comment my posts, I’ll do the same for you” kinda deal.
My plan has worked well! I do get regular engagement on my posts. I’ve increased my followers from 0 to ~1500. And yet, I feel unsatisfied. I get apprehensive about logging onto IG after I make a post because I know there will be comments awaiting my reply. I’ll have to interact. I created this thing for joy and I’ve allowed it to become a chore. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate every single comment I get. I’m beyond flattered anytime anyone actually reads my posts, but at my core, I'm an introvert.
Though successful, my efforts have distracted me from my main goal: to write.
Currently, I spend most of my time interacting and a little bit of time whipping up Instagram posts. Then, I chop them down to an unrecognizable, but appropriately brief (and probably still too long) caption. Prior to last week, it had been two months since I'd written and actual blog post. Some people say long form content is dead, but it’s what I love. And I’ve been missing that while I’ve been off focusing my efforts on socializing instead.
So, now we face COVID-19.
An international crisis unlike anything I’ve seen in my lifetime. We’re encouraged to practice “social distancing.” AKA stay at home when you can and avoid close contact. Cancel brunch, forget about that wedding, reschedule your vacation. I guess maybe you’d think that THIS is the time to turn to social media for support and interaction, if ever there were a time.
In my case, now it feels like someone turned the already-loud volume way up, and the Coronavirus noise is a bit too much for my anxious, introverted self.
What I do find comforting? Writing for me. The other day I had a chuckle at the grocery store and it sparked some inspiration. I thought at first to make it an IG post, but after being so dismayed by the heartbreak reel and widespread panic, I thought “Write it on the blog. Let IG do it’s thing. You belong right here in your own space.” So that’s what I did. I wrote A Meathead’s Crisis Grocery Haul. I have no idea if anyone read it and I don’t care. It served me with the relief I needed in that moment.
Now I’m left wondering why I haven’t just done this all along? I didn't start this blog with the intention to monetize and I don’t know that I ever will. In which case, there’s little return on the time (or mental energy) investment required to “expand my audience.”
Enter, The Pivot.
Going forward, I’ll be re-focusing my efforts here on the blog. Though I briefly considered doing away with my Instagram altogether, here's why I decided against that:
Despite being an introvert, I realize that relationships are a two-way street and there are certain individuals that I want to keep in touch with. If that needs to be through IG, so be it!
I’m nosy AF.
I enjoy utilizing Instagram stories and kinda like the idea of giving myself a "retro challenge" for what will now be occasional Instagram posts (Ie: cute picture accompanied by a 140 character caption).
I'm still a Beauty Boost ambassador. I want to follow through on my commitment (which includes social media sharing) and continue to support what they're doing for Charlotte women!
Someday this virus stuff WILL pass. I'll likely resume more activity on Instagram at that point. Never say never!
Cliff notes version: I’m spending less time on Instagram and more time writing blog posts here on www.onestrongbee.com