The other day, I logged back into Instagram after taking a month-long break. I wanted to do it after my therapist made the suggestion, but I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to do it.
It ended up that it wasn’t all that hard. But I’ll tell you, it wasn’t easy initially. And during that first week away, I realized I was spending more time on Instagram than I thought. I never considered myself someone who spent that much time there compared to most, considering all the interactions I saw when I did go there. It felt like everyone was interacting with everyone (which is how you get more interaction yourself, I’m aware).
Every day but Sunday, I posted one artwork in the morning. I’d go through my feed for an hour (at most) and get off of there. However, I’d stay logged in and still check things on and off throughout the day. For what, I don’t know. The reason for the break in the first place was that it was starting to make me feel like shit.
While I love looking at other people’s art (it truly inspires me), it made me feel like I was the laziest artist on the face of the earth, like my lifetime of hustling was all for naught, and my 1,075 paintings would never be enough. My tiny following and one posting a day was just a pittance in the scheme of things, especially since there’s no way I could ever complete an artwork per day. No way. I’m too slow-moving for that. I make paintings at a snail’s pace. I stop and think too much!
Meanwhile, everyone is moving like a bat out of hell, posting new pieces left and right while I’m cycling through older paintings from ten different bodies of work over the course of my life. Not only that, these artists are offering advice and workshops, posting reels of themselves in action, proving that they are serious, and all their work is crazy consistent. Me? I’m still all over the map, and 99.9% of galleries do not want that. They want one streamlined voice, over and over. And I just can’t. It was making me doubt myself and give up, and I kinda did.
The first week I logged out, I felt irrelevant like I would fade into the background, and everyone would forget about me, what few people knew of me to begin with. And I thought I was “missing out.” I also realized I had a lot more time on my hands! I thought, Wow, I didn’t know just how much time I’d been on social media. How awful.
By the second week, I decided to read and research. I read about negative bias and creativity. Then, instead of feeling bad about all the work I haven’t been creating, I decided not to make any on purpose until I truly felt inspired, and instead of having a feeling of urgency to “keep up.” Then I got back to work on the book I’d put down a while ago (Queer as Mud). So, I’ve had my head in that. Now I’m about twelve chapters in!
By the third week, I didn’t miss Instagram at all. And a week after that, I saw that it wasn’t enhancing my life in any real way. It’s nice to keep up with friends, but there’s a whole lotta weird psychology that goes into “likes” and “liking” others too. There’s the dopamine rush of all that, and getting new followers, comments, and everything else. It’s addictive, like a drug, and depressing when the attention dies down on you like when you post something people don’t “like” as much.
So, for me, the negative aspects of Instagram pretty much outweigh the happy inspiration it gives to me. I’ve decided to use it sparingly, post when I feel like it, turn off other people’s “likes” (you can do that), and be grateful when people inquire (which I’ve always been very grateful). That’s all that ever really mattered anyhow.