In 2010, I joined a new, exciting social network called Instagram. Its purpose was quite simple: post square-shaped photos with a range of interesting colour filters and follow people whose photos you also enjoy.
That was really it… until Facebook came along and destroyed everything.
Over time, the network that I loved became a cesspool of useless narcissism and commercialism. Sure, some useful features have been integrated over time, such as video, different aspect ratios and support for multiple images in one post, however most changes have led the service away from its original charm and purpose.
First of all, we now have ads… a lot of ads. Many of them, in my experience, have been totally inaccurate. I’m an Apple enthusiast, yet I have seen countless advertisements for Samsung smartphones and the Microsoft Surface. I have zero interest in fashion, yet I have often been presented with ads for various types of clothing. I’ve heard that others have received very relevant ads, yet I’ve never personally found that to be the case.
Moving on, Instagram Stories, the blatant rip-off of Snapchat Stories, was an example not only of theft from another network to which that idea fit better, it also took the focus away from photography. It’s not about quickly sharing interesting photos anymore, it’s about sharing banal moments as they happen. It’s not even something that you can ignore! They shoved the right into the top of the interface and it’s not something that you can hide.
Another frustrating example is the integration of an algorithmic feed that prioritises content according to personal interest, rather than maintaining chronological order. I don’t need a machine to tell me when I should be interested in something; I want to see photos in the historical order in which they were taken.
I could go on with more examples but perhaps the most significant (and final) one to mention is privacy. Facebook is such an appalling digital citizen and has shown time and time again that it has zero respect for the privacy of its users. As a part of Facebook, Instagram is also a part of that problem. I don’t enjoy it and now, even more importantly, I don’t trust it at all.
Today, I finally deleted my account with this ruined network, which for whatever reason, never thought that people would like to use it on iPads. The tipping point was the integration of an importing feature for Instagram content on Micro.blog, where I now host my short-form blog-equivalent on Feld Notes. With the ability to download my Instagram photos and upload them to a more trustworthy place, maintaining date order and all captions for my photos, nothing was standing in my way anymore.
I had not been using Instagram for some time, so I clicked the ‘delete’ button with only a moment’s hesitation. This pause came down to my positive memories of the service. This once iOS-only app was a network that made photography fun and accessible to so many people.
Now, with both my Facebook profile and Instagram account gone, the only part of my life that remains tied to Facebook is my Messenger account. I would delete that in a heartbeat, if it weren’t for a number of friends both overseas and on Android, with whom there is no other simple, common group-messaging app. Unfortunately, as Apple-centric as this sounds, not everyone is on iMessage, which is undoubtedly the most integrated, convenient and trustworthy instant-messaging app.
For anyone reading this, if you’re still on Instagram, ask yourself why you’re still there. Do you really enjoy the photos or ‘Stories’ that you see from others? Do they add any value? How much time to do you waste looking at (or indeed scrolling past) ads in your feed?
Just get rid of it. There are other spaces on the Web for your content, which are not only more enjoyable but grant you greater control.