An Open Letter to Instagram

Dearest Instagram,

You were my first love, and the past nine years with you have been some of the best of my life. You’ve been there with me through my questionable selfie choices in middle school, my over-saturated “artsy” photos phase in high school, and my aspiring influencer phase that keeps me going in college. We’ve grown together, and you’ve taught me more than anyone I’ve ever known. Hell — I’ve spent more time with you than with my own family!

You taught me the good, the bad and the ugly of social media. I started out young, and the addiction grew from there. In my early days, you helped me connect with other students in my school and show off my brace-face to the world. You were there for me for my first reveal of a smile without braces. You helped me share my 8th-grade field trip to Washington D.C. to the world. You even lead me to create a (very unsuccessful) One Direction fan account.

You also let me down. In 9th grade, I became obsessed with posting selfies. I spent hours creating beautiful PicCollages that deserve to be in a museum to post to your platform. I was then bullied by upperclassmen for being the “Selfie Queen” and my self-confidence plummeted. I turned to the artsy side of Instagram that involved pictures of household objects edited until they were fried. Yet I would never post a picture of my face.

Then I grew up and focused on using you as a medium to share my art. Junior year of high school sparked “model Lena” and I was back to posting myself — this time portraits taken by photographer friends. High school Instagram meant posting pictures to represent every major event, from school dances to honor society inductions to graduation, and I never missed an opportunity to post.

In college, you helped me peak. I learned how to edit my photos to create a cohesive feed. You taught me the importance of rubbing it in my friends' faces that I lived in Florida and pushed me to post weekly palm tree pictures. During my time working at Disney, you showed me what it was like to be loved by thousands of strangers and gave me a peek at what it’s like to be famous. And I loved every second of it.

You have not only given me a platform to share my story, but you have given me so many experiences that have changed my life. I’ve learned important aspects of photography and editing and have gotten incredible job experiences thanks to these skills. I’ve been able to expand my knowledge and branch into videography and start a YouTube channel, which is every aspiring celebrity’s childhood dream. I’ve even learned valuable marketing skills and have been hired for three jobs outside of my major thanks to what I’ve taught myself through the experiences you've given me.

Then you let me down again. Algorithm after algorithm began to role out, and now all the love I’ve given you the past nine years stopped being reciprocated. But like a drug, I’m addicted to you and I can’t stop. The fluctuating numbers of likes and followers make my skin itch and this abusive relationship needs to stop. I give and give and give and spend hours each day on you, only to consistently be let down by updates that make it harder to succeed?

And then you blocked me, the action that hurt most of all. You blocked me from liking, commenting and posting on the platform for seven days — and for what? Because I like too many photos at once? Was I socializing a bit too much on a social media app? Huh?

Instagram, I love you and I will never stop loving you, but the disrespect I’ve received in exchange for the time and effort I put in is unacceptable. You know I will never leave your side, but maybe, just maybe, could we go back to the way things used to be? I just want to feel loved by the one I love the most.

Please Instagram, I know we can make this work.

Much Love,

Lena

Media: 1, 2, 3, 4