As bloggers, we use social media a lot. We kind of feel like we have to, right? Be it to drive traffic to our sites, secure opportunities or purely to make some friends along the way, blogging and social media seem to go hand in hand.
But how much effort should we be putting into something we can’t control?
On Tuesday night, I finally made the decision to scrap my Instagram account. Less than 24 hours later, Instagram (along with Facebook and Whatsapp) went down. I guess it just couldn’t cope without my presence.
I’m joking, of course.
But I do want to talk about Instagram – why I got rid of it and also the uncomfortable amount of panic which followed the outage.
Let’s start with how I ended up deactivating my account.
Back in October, I wrote a post about trying to solve the Instagram mystery. In it, I discussed various methods I had tried to grow on the platform. I tried a few others and saw little improvement.
So, when 2019 rolled around, I decided I’d just do Instagram for fun. I started posting less, rambled a little in my stories and did my best not to take it seriously. I wasn’t really concerning myself with follower numbers because they had become as unpredictable as the British weather.
Things were okay. Then, for the last few weeks, I’ve had this niggling feeling that I should give it up. While I was trying my best to have fun with it, I realised I wasn’t. It was sucking up my time, but bringing nothing to my life or my blog. It’s not a platform I enjoy, and it never really has been. I had seen lots of tweets complaining about the algorithm and the unfollowing games and I felt the same way. Yet, I wondered why we all cared so much and if it was even worth it.
Still, I was torn between getting rid of it and holding onto it because I know brands often appreciate an Instagram presence. I was apprehensive about the fact it could reflect negatively on me. Plus, I’m a little bit stubborn and didn’t want to admit defeat.
Every night (and I mean every night) I would have a debate with myself. It went a little something like this:
I really don’t like Instagram, I should delete it.
But then, what about brands who value Instagram over other platforms?
My value goes beyond Instagram.
But you’re a blogger, you should be on Instagram.
It always came back to the same two points, though. I don’t enjoy it and I have value beyond that. It doesn’t make me a bad blogger to not be on there. In fact, it has no reflection on my ability as a blogger at all.
I didn’t want to make a rash decision but, the more time passed, the more I believed I should step away from the platform. I am sure that Instagram CAN be great, but pictures are not my strength. Words are. That was the attraction of blogging for me. Having a space to write – not the idea of having to maintain an Instagram feed and update my stories multiple times a day.
I realise you get out of it what you put in and, every minute I spent on Twitter, I would be stressing about the fact Instagram would suffer. Then, when I tried harder with Instagram, Twitter fell to the side. That just makes me human – there’s only so much I can do. And then I realised I could remove some of the pressure by taking one of them out of the equation. The one I enjoyed the least.
So, I said goodbye to my Instagram account. There was an instant sense of relief.
I don’t want to say my life isn’t “Instagram worthy” because that’s ridiculous. However, most of my days look the same. I’m sat in front of a screen, working hard to try and get things off the ground. My time is put into writing content, working on other projects or cleaning my flat. There are only so many times I can post those things before it’s just… dull. Both for me and for anyone following me. When it comes to my blog, Instagram felt pointless. It wasn’t driving traffic, I wasn’t enjoying it and it was taking up one of my most precious resources: my time.
I’ve tried a few things since I started blogging. I’ve naturally taken to some and failed miserably at others. That’s fine because I gave them a go and realised they simply weren’t where my strengths were. Blogging is a journey. Along the way, you will discover things that work for you and things that don’t. It’s perfectly acceptable to admit a platform isn’t suitable for you. You can then use your time to be the best at the ones you enjoy.
What Happens When Social Media Goes Down?
The following day, Instagram went down. And, my goodness, what a reaction.
Before I delve into how concerning and uncomfortable it was to witness, I want to clear up a few points.
Number one. I don’t actually spend a lot of time on social media anymore. I tend to pop on, update, close it and come back to it later. The amount of time I put into it has reduced drastically in the past few months. I don’t feel the same pull towards it as I have done previously. The very fact I’ve spent so much time deliberating about what to do with my Instagram account shows that it still has some sort of hold on me, though.
Number two. I realise it’s important for my blog. To be completely truthful, I probably wouldn’t be on any social media if I wasn’t blogging. I enjoy connecting and talking to other bloggers, but it’s not an essential for me. Yet, I do understand its importance for blogging and business. So, when people were feeling a little alarmed because of the potential damage to that, I kind of get it.
Those things out of the way, I find it alarming the way people react when social media goes down. The main reason for that is because, realistically, it will be back soon enough. It normally goes down for a little while, gets fixed and everyone carries on as normal.
So, people seriously can’t find something else to do for a few hours? For me, it’s an “oh well, it’s down, let’s do something else”. But the sheer amount of people who decided they’d rather take to Twitter to panic about it was almost comical. I realise some of those tweets were done to be ironic or funny but I’m confident many of them were serious, too.
Worst case scenario: it’s gone forever. What then?
Though I don’t think it’s likely to happen anytime soon, Instagram and Facebook are owned by the same people. They could quite easily vanish or fade out. You know, like good old MySpace did.
If you’ve put so much into it that that’s a massive issue, that’s equally worrying. Even from a business perspective, surely you should have other means of generating it (like your own site) rather than just social media?
I’ve got to be honest. I’ve felt uncomfortable about other people’s relationships with social media for a long time. That sounds a little arrogant, but that’s not my intention. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else because my relationship with social media is different. All I’m saying is that you should have other things you enjoy doing. A book, for example, won’t let you down. And I don’t like to see members of my generation – or any other – so reliant on something which can disappear in the blink of an eye. It’s not healthy.
In fairness, there are probably a handful of people who were justified in their panic, for whatever reason. When it comes to the majority, though, I fear there’s too much invested in the world of social media.
The biggest value of having your own blog and your own site is that it’s yours. Instagram going down confirmed for me that I was right to move away from it. Not because it’s unreliable, but putting my energy and effort into something which I don’t have control over has an element of risk. Focusing on my blog and freeing up more time to work on that (or interact with the audience I already have) is a good decision to make.
As bloggers, I’d urge you to think about how you use your time. Is it being absorbed by something you don’t control, or are you using enough of it on your own site? We all put a lot into social media and maybe sometimes we lose focus. I know I do. As I’ve said, social media is important for your blog and there’s no getting past that. But your blog and content creation should always be the priority. This latest hiccup is proof of that.