Kin Lane

Instagram Actually Brings Me Joy

I started using Instagram early on. I even sat in on an interview with the founder when my partner in crime was writing on piece for ReadWriteWeb back in the day. I found their API journey from rogue API to platform API was interesting. When they made a terms of service change regarding the ownership of photos, and then reversed course, they lost me. My usage started to slip. I rarely posted my photos to the platform, and I eventually exported my photos. My usage never really recovered, and then sometime in 2016 my account got hacked by Russians (really), and the timeline filled up with spam and propaganda and the account followed like 10K other Russian accounts — I deleted my account once I got access again.

Then last year I realized that I had forgotten to re-register it, and thankfully my username was still available. I fired things back up, and began just following libraries, museums, and art galleries. I’ve expanded this to include a handful of digital artists, science fiction, and nature accounts. I still followed back a handful of friends and family, but haven’t expanded my subscription beyond these areas. It was an interesting lesson. I actually like looking on Instagram each day. I usually visit once or twice and spend about 5 minutes there each time. I leave happy. I don’t unnecessarily feel compelled to come back, and hit refresh repeatedly. I have come around to a good place with my Instagram relationships despite our checkered past, and being owned my Facebook.

Instagram is the ONLY social network application I have on my mobile phone. I like looking at the art. I like looking at the nature photos. Not much more. It is a nice distraction. I occasionally see photos from the travels of my friends who I follow, which I always enjoy. I occasionally will post something from my local or regional travels, but mostly just the random thing I see walking around Seattle. I’m not worried about my presence, my follower counts, or oversharing of data with Facebook. I feel like Instagram is another example of how I can strike a healthy balance with web technology in my life, and bend it to serve me, while still also playing their little social surveillance games in a minimal way that doesn’t bring much harm to my life. I can delete the app, walk away from the account if needed, but as long as it brings me joy I’ll stick around.

This is one aspect of my journey that demonstrates to me the importance of asserting control over the web technology we allow into our lives. When platforms become toxic, just delete them from our phones and our lives. When we can bend them to serve us, and actually add some value to our lives, let’s maintain the connection. This journey to discover and define our digital self isn’t about just resisting technology in general. It is about resisting technology being overly dominating in our life, and ultimately not bringing us joy, or truly serving us. We can still have these tools in our lives if we make sure and practice some hygiene regarding our accounts, and properly define why we use each platform. Then we can strike a deal with the technology we do adopt, and enjoy the positive benefits it can bring to our lives, without being in denial that they can also have a significant negative impact if we don’t take action.