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Digital Detox (Part One): Leaving Instagram

This began as a response to a comment on my final Instagram post.
I thought it might be interesting as an ongoing series.

Until March, like many self-employed artists, I used social media to promote my events and my work and to stay connected to friends and family. It occurred to me at the onset of the pandemic that isolation + social media were going to be a bad combo for me. Considering I’ve had significantly fewer events to promote, I found myself absorbing social media without much interaction. As addictive as I can be, I find myself unwittingly and mindlessly scrolling and scrolling (and scrolling)… Out of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I decided I would need to give up one of them, if not two. Having left FB once before, I know I can do it again.

My #1 favorite app is Twitter—it’s where I get most of my breaking news, confirmations, and some of the best things to read and learn about. Twitter is my favorite combo: jokes, news and links to more things to read. It can be interactive, but easy for me to put down. The problem I have with Twitter is that I get very little interaction from followers. I’ve used it pretty consistently since 2008 and all I seem to do is hope people will like my tweets. If I stop using it to interact with folks, it becomes a text version of Instagram or Tumblr (also no longer using) and them all I’m doing is scrolling and liking posts.

My #2 account is Facebook. Most (90%-ish) of the people I love are on FB, whereas the percentages of my loved ones using IG and Twitter are closer to 30–50%. This is the main reason I decided to hang onto FB for now, however limited since I’ve been deleting my pages and promotional tools in an attempt to streamline my use. I can reach nearly anyone I need to either through my phone, email or FB Messenger. I only use FB on a browser having deleted the app from my phone a couple of years ago. This is a critical step in controlling addiction. (It’s the same reason I don’t keep Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the house.) I get no FB notifications at all except for direct messages. For me, FB’s the most socially interactive of the three and while it can generate negative interaction, at the very least, I can say I’ve met the people I am having that interaction with and “fine-tune” my connection to them thereafter. I have invested time and energy into those friendships. Facebook is where I can just be Mike/Michael and post about personal things and get real feedback or post about events and get the word out in a socially acceptable way..

#3: Instagram. If you had asked me in May 2020 which account I was most likely to hold onto, I would have said Instagram. It’s a wonderful app and serves my eyeballs like no other. I have enjoyed it since the first time I downloaded it. However, no app distracts me more than IG! Isolation and a lot of weird, sad and frustrating downtime has found me scrolling aimlessly on my little phone, clearing my mind of whatever my intended goal was for opening the app. Instagram serves me far less than FB. I am not saying I will leave it forever, but I want to close the account and take a long break. When I left Facebook in 2011, I came back a year later with a renewed focus. There’s nothing like a much needed reboot. Plus, FB already has so much of my data as it is and IG is merely an extension of FB’s data mining operation.

This isolation has been the catalyst for a number of reboots, reassessments and analyses. I have been diligently re-sorting my priorities. I am writing more and starting new projects, so I need to make room. We stop going to cafes when enough people stop showing up or something more inviting comes along. It’s weird to leave a social thing I’ve relied on for eight years, but I left Friendster and Myspace too and I gave yet to regret it.

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#twitter

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Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake – Love Never Felt So Good :: https://t.co/FUdX1UmMPj

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May 20, 2014 at 01:51PM

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And I got my “mightymikemcgee” username back on Instagram! http://t.co/voTwfEb0r1 #supersweetness #hella

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May 20, 2014 at 01:40PM

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You probably already know this, but my Tumblr is hella interesting: http://t.co/yp2EvAwqQB

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May 20, 2014 at 01:33PM

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Candylanded Immigrant #RuinAToy @midnight

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May 20, 2014 at 12:35AM

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Colostomy Elmo #RuinAToy @midnight

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May 19, 2014 at 11:48PM

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Strawberry Short Sale #RuinAToy @midnight

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May 19, 2014 at 11:39PM

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Peen Pong #RuinAToy @midnight

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May 19, 2014 at 11:31PM

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Chutes & Landmines #RuinAToy @midnight

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May 19, 2014 at 11:24PM