I like how my blog showcases patterns in my life; different interests, different inspirations. Minimalism, running (perhaps this isn’t mentioned as much as it should be), social media (or lack thereof). They seem to be in rotation. While writing and reading are constant on this blog, and the glory to God behind everything I write, every now and then I get motivated by something else and write about it for a month or two before it fades away and I move onto the next thing.
But just because I don’t write about it doesn’t mean it isn’t a large part of my life. For instance, I still try to only buy and live with material objects that I use or really love. (The other day I handed in my final uni assessment for trimester 1 and as a reward I pulled all the books off my bookcase and emptied my wardrobe to declutter.) I’m washing my hair with a shampoo and conditioner bar and I use metal pegs to hang out my laundry. I also still think about running, though it hasn’t happened in a while. In my defence I had my wisdom teeth pulled out and then I got sick so any exercise routine I had just collapsed.
But now is the time for the social media train and I think it’s here to stay. In 2019 I deactivated Facebook and deleted Instagram and blogged about the experience (you can read the first post here) but in spring last year I made a new Instagram account as a way of sharing my poetry.
And in the next month I’m going to leave it behind.
I’ll keep it active so that if people find my account they can still use the link to my blog (which is in my Instagram bio) if they are interested , but I won’t be posting anything else on there and won’t be checking messages or comments or likes. I’ll delete the app and won’t log in online.
It simply isn’t where my heart is.
Since making this Instagram account and using it regularly, I find sitting down to blog difficult. Yes, I have been busy with uni and work, but I used to blog every single day whilst balancing these two things, and more. But I’ve been thinking that part of the difficulty is coming from my consumption of bite-sized content.
Don’t get me wrong, Instagram is an amazing platform and I follow so many writers and Christians who write thought-provoking captions. But even the longer captions are shorter than a normal paragraph. I also recognise that Instagram isn’t designed to be a blog, it’s designed to be bite-sized and quick. It originally existed for photos only and has only recently become somewhat of a writer’s platform.
But I believe it’s affecting both how we read and how we write.
There’s been a lot of research placed into learning how social media affects how we read. That is, we’re scrolling and consuming short sentences that don’t require much energy, that don’t require a long attention span. And if it’s affecting our attention span and head space for reading, surely it must be doing the same for how we write.
I saw the effect of this when I began posting short poems on Instagram. Instagram’s format doesn’t allow for longer poetry, or it’s not as easy to capture someone’s attention with longer poetry, because you’ve got a small square to fit your words into, and if there’s too much writing they’re going to scroll right past. We don’t have time or energy for it! We want media we can consume in a split-second because we’re constantly moving onto the next post.
While I love poetry, and would love to publish a collection of poetry at some point, my favourite poems are my longer poems, which I “can’t” post on Instagram because of this format. It feels like I’m betraying how I really write for the sake of fitting into the “Instapoet” mould.
Of course short poems can sometimes be important and meaningful, of course one sentence can sometimes say more than two hundred can. But that’s not how I want to do things.
I always knew this in my gut but avoided facing it: Instagram is pulling me away from doing what I really want to do.
It’s a distraction that feels productive under the guise of a writer’s platform, or that blogs are dying and the only way to become known is to stay connected on social media. But you know, Sally Rooney (contemporary author of Conversations with friends and Normal People) doesn’t have Instagram and she’s well-regarded and has no shortage of supporters. Sure, social media is a great way to be discovered or make connections. But it isn’t the only way, and it certainly isn’t a necessity in order for me to do what I love and get where I want to be.
As I said, at some stage I would love to publish a collection of poetry, but my biggest dream is to publish a novel. It’s the one thing I want to do more than anything else. So posting poetry on Instagram wasn’t actually helping that, but the time I spent worrying about what to post (not to mention checking notifications, responding to comments, posting and watching stories, engaging with other content) took away from time I used to spend writing my novel.
I know I seem to switch between novels and poetry, but in my heart I want to publish a novel first, and then focus on poetry. I don’t want to seen as an Instapoet. I want to be seen as me, a writer.
With all this said, I’m leaving Instagram.
The reason I haven’t left yet is because I have a project under construction, and I don’t want to delete Instagram until this project has seen the light of day. Which will be in the next month. (Don’t worry, I’ll announce it here when it’s ready!)
None of what I’ve said is judging those who use Instagram. The platform does work for some people and has been a massive success for so many. But it’s not for me, and it’s time I admitted that and go where my excitement leads.
Because I am, I’m excited for this new season. I haven’t felt this excited and creative in a long time, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
P.S. As an aside, I would like to disclose that on my phone I still have the messenger app which I use to talk to people. While this could be classed as “social media” (I don’t know, is it?), it doesn’t have the same time-consuming, addictive nature because I only check it if I’m answering a message, which pops up as a notification.
Below are three videos about quitting social media/the amount of time people spend on their phones. While I’ve discussed my main reason for leaving Instagram in today’s post, the points in these videos are also at the back of my mind and are relatable to an extent.
For more resources, there are three other videos also linked in this blog post about social media that helped me to decide back in 2019 to deactivate my social media accounts, and those reasons have also stuck with me.
We Quit the Internet for a Month. Here’s What Happened. – WheezyWaiter
I quit social media for 30 days – Matt D’Avella
5 Reasons Why We Need A Digital Detox – Break the Twitch