I started posting what I love on Instagram—and I'm so much happier for it
It’s 5pm on Wednesday. You’ve styled your square to perfection. Written a witty caption with an engaging question at the end. Tagged relevant accounts. Included the optimum number of hashtags. You hit share, dead on five. And… nothing happens.
The disappointment creeps in. Why isn’t anyone engaging? Anxiety drops by, says hello and, once again, you’re left wondering why you bothered setting up your Instagram account in the first place.
According to new research published in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture journal, Instagram is the most taxing of all social media channels on our brains—especially when it comes to comparing ourselves to everyone else. Furthermore, the more time people reported spending on Instagram, the more anxious and depressed they felt.
And yet, the key to a ‘successful’ Instagram is doing the leg-work: setting up the perfect shot; posting at the perfect time; and, that’s before you’ve spent hours liking, commenting on, and engaging with other posts.
And so, you find yourself at 5:04pm, mid-week, refreshing your feed every five seconds—and silently cursing.
But, what happened to the joy you felt when you first set up your account?
Of posting whenever the heck you like. What you like. Catching up with friends, and occasionally peeking into the homes of others.
It was only after stepping back that I realised the very platform that used to give me so much joy was making me miserable. There’s something about this little app that causes a melting pot of pressure and anxiety, and, one day, those feelings bubble up to the surface. They erupt.
So, what did I do about it?
I started posting pictures I love again—not pictures I knew would fare ‘well’ in terms of engagement. I stopped worrying (as much) about having the perfect feed; about posting at the perfect time. About the number of likes, comments, shares and saves.
I made a conscious effort to engage with the feeds that bring a smile to my face—not the ‘popular’ feeds I felt I should be engaging with. I found the most wonderful hashtag that encourages us all to post whatever we like, and s-m-i-l-e doing it.
My followers might have dipped, and my slightly erratic posting schedule might have upset Instagram’s algorithm.
But, you know what? I’m so much happier for it.
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