Everyone who uses social media, especially Instagram, knows that there is always a toxic side to these apps. Some people can avoid falling down the destructive rabbit hole of social media obsession, but I cannot say I was one of those people. I used to be obsessed with the way people perceived me on social media. I wanted to post the exact right things and have my account look a certain way; I found myself looking for a stamp of approval from my followers. It wasn’t even my friends that I was worried about, it was the random people that I had one class with all throughout high school and had exchanged a couple of sentences with throughout my life––it was people that I couldn’t care less about what they thought about me in real life. Why did I care all of a sudden what they thought about my Instagram account? I was embarrassed that I had hundreds of followers but I was only getting 25 likes on my posts, until I realized that it doesn’t matter. The followers and the likes don’t reflect who I am at all, they don’t really mean anything at all…they’re just numbers.
I decided to make my profile the way I wanted to, changed my profile picture to something that I liked, followed people that I actually wanted to follow, and posted things that I actually wanted to post. Just because other people weren’t making their Instagram accounts more casual didn’t mean that I couldn’t.
When Instagram came out with a feature where users could turn off the likes on their own posts and other people’s posts, I dropped everything I was doing and turned it off. Some people don’t like this feature, but I was tired of looking at other people’s posts and obsessing over how many likes their posts got versus how many likes my posts got. I turned off my own like count because I realized that I want people to focus on the things that I was posting, not how many likes I got. I also don’t even want to see the amount of likes my own posts are getting because it shouldn’t matter how many likes my post gets as long as I enjoy the things I am posting.
The next thing I did to keep my Instagram account something I enjoyed was I started posting the things I wanted to. I post the pictures I want to and I do it when I want to. I stopped worrying about how often I was posting to make sure my followers would stick around and stopped wondering if people were going to like the pictures I was posting. I post things on my story that I like and then that’s it. I don’t worry about who is looking at my story and who isn’t or who approves of the things I am posting and who doesn’t.
I unfollowed the accounts and people who made me feel like my posts weren’t good enough or people who I didn’t even care about the things they were posting. I stopped obsessing over people unfollowing me too. Instead of spending my time wondering why someone unfollowed me, I just move on (and most of the time I don’t even realize that someone has unfollowed me).
Not caring about the likes and follows you get on social media is a process. For me, it wasn’t something that happened in a day. Not obsessing over the numbers on social media has made me enjoy social media more. I can actually go on Instagram without being consumed by the way my account looks versus other people’s accounts. I feel like I am more free to make my account unique and special.