Instagram is one of the most popular social media streams that are currently in use, and it comes with new advantages and challenges.
The social media app has been around for a long time now, and its STILL rapidly growing. More and more people are registering for it everyday, and there are TONNES of accounts and account types to look through and stalk.
Let’s be honest, right now, Instagram is a hot mess.
One one hand, the app is doing SO WELL. Cases in point:
- The multiple communities formed. We have the study community, the bullet journal community, the book community, the aesthetic accounts, the meme accounts, and so many more categories. Whatever you’re looking for is available in large numbers.
- Instagram trends. There are new trends everyday and there are different trends in every community. It brings people back to the app to see what’s new and trending so that everyone can keep themselves up to date.
- Stories. When they first introduced stories, we were all really skeptic, but stories have actually taken off! In fact, more people look at and engage with stories than they do with normal posts on their feed.
- Since the entire app is based around visuals, it’s perfect for capturing attention quickly. In this super fast world where we are all racing and want to spend lesser time on everything, pictures and visuals are on the top of the game. Because of this, businesses and consumers both highly benefit from this app.
- It’s provided a perfect platform for photographers and artists to showcase their work. It has also encouraged more people to get into photography and try new and unique styles.
There are many more points which I’m not mentioning, but these are enough to showcase just how successful this app has been. But on the other hand, Instagram does have it’s flaws. Cases in point:
- It can become toxic. If you’re on Instagram to personally follow the lives of friends and acquaintances, the app has a huge hold over your mental health. The talk about Instagram being a “filter” and only showing the good sides has been around for a long time so I won’t bother explaining that.
- It sucks your time like a black hole. Because it’s so easy to consume content in very short amounts of time, you tend to spend more time on the app. I know many people who spend HOURS of their time just scrolling on Instagram. While its good to consume content, it’s not as useful unless it helps you in any way. If you’re an influencer, or work in a graphics/visual-related career, understanding the trends on Instagram is required. But otherwise, it’s A HUGE WASTE OF TIME.
- Some of the updates on Instagram are complete trash. As Instagram adds more and more features, the usability of the app is degrading. I’m not sure if this is just me, but I find that I much prefer lesser options to click and swipe through than the number of options available on the app right now. There are too many buttons, swipes and taps now, which makes the usability flow messy.
- Let’s not even talk about the algorithm which makes it hard for influencers. We’ll be here all day with that.
- Also, the app is currently a NIGHTMARE for people using accessibility tools. And it’s definitely a challenge for creators of accessibility tools.
Everything in this world has pros and cons, and obviously Instagram can’t be free of that. But I would like to point out one thing. Instagram today is wildly different than the vision it started out with. Remember Instagram when it first caught wind? It was all about people sharing their lives through pictures, and text NOT being the focal point. At that time, every social media platform we used centered around text so this was very new and exciting. The app was simple to use, had very few user actions which ensured that our attention was on the pictures on our feeds, and was cohesive. The explore page was just that, used to simply explore new accounts and content which we might like.
Today’s Instagram does not feel cohesive. Sure, they’re incorporating multiple elements related to visuals but does it actually feel cohesive? We have the main feed, then we have the stories, then there’s IGTV. These three things itself are entirely separate sections with accompanying extra features of their own. Our explore pages don’t feel appealing anymore because of the IGTV videos included in and the options on top for various genres.
The main drawback is that we spend minimal time looking at our feeds. Ever since stories arrived, we keep going through them instead of the content on our feeds. Because tapping to go to next story is easier than swiping and double tapping etc. We users are lazy and it’s shifted the entire dynamic of the app’s usage.
Speaking of the changed app usage dynamic, can I just rant about the 101 things on screen? Right as we open the app, we have multiple things popping up and fighting to grab our attention. The short attention span of users is fully exploited by constantly changing where our attention is pulled.
For example, the latest Instagram update which puts a red dot next to your account name to indicate new notifications in ANY of your accounts. So there’s a red dot that’s constantly pinging my attention to tell me that there are outstanding notifications in some account of mine. This may seem good, but it’s not for people like me who can’t ignore notifications. I can’t leave messages unread or notifications unseen. I can’t ignore them, and usually clear them all off as soon as I can.
If you’re thinking “why not just clear the notifications so the red dot will disappear?”, it’s not possible with a larger account. One of my accounts receives notifications CONSTANTLY and I have blocked notifications from the app because of that. Since I blocked them, notifications from that account don’t bother me unless I open that specific account. With this new update, those notifications cause the red dot to be persistent in every account which drives me nuts.
Another update which I’m on the fence about is the categorizing of accounts you follow. It’s great to know whom you’re interacting with less, so that you can correct it, but I’m not happy that it takes me so many taps to get to that point. That function is BURIED somewhere under several other things.
There are users who are good with all the distraction and multiple things on screen, but there are users like me who like our screen and usage to be simple. With every Instagram update, the UI feels more messy, which discourages me from using the app. Instagram is repelling me at this point. In fact, my daily average is 30 minutes with all three of my accounts. I spend minimal time using the app because just looking at it’s screen drains my energy.
I am not an avid user of the app, and would open another app if I can. Aesthetics are available on Pinterest as well, and trends are much better seen on Twitter. My Instagram usage has been declining over the past few months, and it has hit a low this month because of blogmas taking up my time. And this has made me realize that I don’t particularly like the app. I don’t miss it, and there is nothing I’m missing out on by not using it.
Bookstagram is a wonderful place with all the book aesthetics to make my heart warm, and I really like taking and posting my own pictures. But this time away has shown me that it’s not that great. I’ve been irregular in posting and viewing for the last month and I feel nothing. There’s a picture in my camera roll ready to be posted from two weeks but I don’t have any urgency to post and be regular on bookstagram. It’s quite liberating, I won’t lie. And now I’m actually considering deleting my bookstagram account.
It’s just a thought so far, and there are pros and cons to it as well. I like that all the bookish content is separated from personal content (which is on another account). And I don’t want to mix it up. So right now, I’m thinking I’ll keep the account but only use it when I really feel like it. While it means irregular posts from it, this also does mean that whatever I post will truly be something I want to share. There won’t be any posts just because I’m forced to stay consistent.
The same goes for the entire app, to be honest. From now on, I’ve decided to not feel any responsibility towards my accounts and only do what I feel like, even if it means not opening the app for days at end. There will be new photos only if I really feel like taking them. Although I might use stories regularly, but they will also be less, as they have been this past month.
Wow this post is nearing 1.5k words so I will stop. If you’ve stuck through with me this far, thanks for lending me your precious time!
What are your thoughts on Instagram? Are you on board with all the new updates?