I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a little sick of Instagram.
I’m sick of the way it makes me feel lately. It’s like an emotionally abusive boyfriend who I keep running back to. Do you feel the same? Take this quiz and find out!
Please answer yes or no to the below questions to see if you too are suffering from Instagram abuse.
1. Does IG put you down in front of your peers? i.e., does it say things like “you suck at creating content” and then hides your posts from 90% of your audience?
2. Does IG “try to protect you” from unwanted content? Like you’re some idiot who was born yesterday?
3. Does IG want to keep you down? For example, when you try new things, does it tell you to stick to what you know?
4. Does IG make you feel like you’re not good enough?
5. Does IG make you feel anxious or second guess yourself?
6. Does IG make you feel bad about being late to things? Because the new algorithm controls your life?
If you answered yes to all or most of the above questions, you have an abusive Instagram relationship.
That’s the funny thing about Instagram though – and anyone who’s an “influencer” or “content creator” can probably tell you this – we have no idea how we got here. We were just being ourselves. So why am I being punished all of a sudden?!
I’ve been thinking A LOT about this (can you tell?). And I find it hilarious and a little strange when people are out there asking their audience/followers/readers what they want to see and what they like/don’t like ALL THE FUCKING TIME. No offense to my friends who do this, but my personal opinion is that you will get only so many responses anyway and they’re usually all over the place. To me, it’s not helpful. And if you want to be “authentic”, how is begging people to tell you what THEY want, authentic to YOU??
Think about it. It makes ZERO. FUCKING. SENSE. Do more of what makes YOU happy. You got here because you were doing what YOU love to do. You were creating content YOU loved and thought was great. And your followers loved it too, right?
The people who resonate with my content found me on their own. And I gained 90K followers on my own. I realize it’s a bit harder to do that now, for sure, but blame the idiotic algorithm for that. I still believe that if you’re true to yourself, your content will show that. And the people who loved you will continue to, and the ones who don’t know you, but resonate with you, will find you.
Because…that’s how authenticity works.
Think about your group of friends. They didn’t find you and you didn’t seek them out either. You were put into each other’s orbit, realized you understood each other, and found common ground and liked (or in my case, hated) a lot of the same things. So you thought “hey, maybe let’s hate some things together tomorrow, while we grab pizza?”
And just like that, you have a friend.
Then maybe their friends become your friends too. Or you meet a new person with a new set of beliefs and they match yours, so you gain a new friend in a new circle.
This. Is. How. Life. Works.
Alright maybe not life but it’s basically how the universe works in regards to relationships.
And relationships are not always easy. A lot of them take work. So I’m not saying you should just sit back and do nothing – you should always be growing and evolving as a content creator, and paying attention to your readers/followers. But…you should do it all at the rate you’re comfortable with. Try new things, but be patient and trust the process. You will know whether you’re doing something because you want to, or because someone else wants you to.
Note: I asked in an IG post recently what you guys would want to see in a web series on IG for a very different reason. Hopefully I can share that reason with you soon!
Here’s a good example and I didn’t even ask for this feedback: about a year or so ago, I noticed my followers were asking me to create more YouTube/Q&A videos. So I tried to. I really did. But I am NOT good at editing, and it takes me a very long time to do it. It not only stressed me the fuck out, but it also made me feel bad because I knew they wanted that content and I wasn’t producing it fast enough. Then I started to feel anxiety ridden all the time and eventually had to say fuck it – I don’t have the resources right now to do it and I don’t have the money to outsource it. So unless these guys want to create a GoFundMe for my video content…it’s going to be on the back burner for a bit.
I’m all for opening up the conversation for feedback. I enjoy hearing what you guys think! Truly. You know I don’t bullshit. And I got some GREAT feedback. But…chances are, the majority of you who follow me, do so because you like my “voice” on Instagram already. And I don’t mean my literal voice. No one really likes that. I mean the things that I represent, and the things that I believe in. That’s my “voice” and it’s why people follow me.
People don’t come to me for amazing food photography. There are literally thousands of better food photographers out there. Tens of thousands, I’d bet.
People come to me because I’m a snarky, sarcastic wiseass who loves food, writing, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. I’m self deprecating, a little dark, and funny/entertaining to most people in most cultures. I’m also a huge dork and I know it. And I don’t apologize for it.
And for whatever reason…that resonates with a lottttt of people. I attracted brands and followers alike with my long, unfiltered captions and bizarre sense of humor, on and off camera.
Then, on the flipside, there’s also a long list of people who hate me. They hate my sense of humor, they hate my looks, they hate my voice (no like my actual tone of voice), and they hate quite literally everything I stand for. But guess what??
I DON’T FUCKING CARE.
You cannot be in this business and try to please everyone. And you’re doomed to fail if you do.
These are some REAL comments I’ve gotten from people over the years:
“You’re so condescending. shut up”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. stick to food”
“You look like a pornstar”
“I hate your face. and your voice.”
“I hate your eyebrows” – this is bullshit my eyebrows are like art
“Just stop talking”
“Try eating a salad once in a while”
“You’re not even that cute lol”
AND MY ALL TIME, PERSONAL FAVE:
“Not so skinny anymore!”
So…you get it. The internet can be a scary, mean place. But thankfully I have a thick skin and I don’t give a shit about what a few random people say about me.
My followers get me. They get me because they’re like me. Or they find my content “aspirational”.
And because of that, they won’t care if one day I decide to post something out of the norm. They’ll still watch it, and they’ll still probably like it. But if they don’t, I trust them enough to comment on it and tell me why they don’t. ORGANICALLY.
Look. I’m guilty of asking people to comment on stuff every now and again too. We all know about #ads and we want our friends and family and followers to see it. These #ads are paying my bills, and I’m damn proud I’ve gotten to a point in my career where national, corporate brands recognize my “voice” and want to put their product in my hands to promote it. I’ll save that rant for a separate post. But aside from that, ultimately I let fate run its course with my Instagram account. No DM groups. No pods.
This is also probably why I’ll be stuck at 90.8K followers for the rest of my life.
I hit 90.9 last week, and within a day I gained and lost somewhere around 100 followers collectively. And now I’m back at 90.8. Slowly creeping down to 90.7.
Maybe I should reconsider the DM group.
But I digress.. I posted a beautiful photo of Cinnamon Rolls the other day and it got 300 likes. I have 90,000 followers. That’s actually embarrassing. But only 6,300 people actually saw the post. That’s still a low amount of likes for that amount of people, but for someone who has 90,000?! That is roughly 7% of my audience. SEVEN. FUCKING. PERCENT.
I also had to Google that because I’m terrible at math. But isn’t that bullshit? If you were me, and you spent your time and energy to “create content” and then that’s what you get, wouldn’t you be a little pissed too?? And EXTREMELY unmotivated to do more? Thank god I still have solid engagement because #bless my followers.
Doing that Cinnamon Roll post took me roughly 1.5 hours total and cost maybe $17. Not a lot of time or money, but it’s the principle. I bought the cinnamon rolls (not sorry), and I also bought the Christmas-y kitchen towels and bows specifically for the damn photo. I try to make things nice and get creative and it doesn’t even help.
The thing of it is, I was excited to post that. I really liked the photo! I thought it was a beautiful shot, and very Christmas-y. I MEAN WHO DOESN’T LOVE A GODDAMN CINNAMON ROLL ON CHRISTMAS MORNING. But you know what happened after I saw the likes? I got sad. For about 30 seconds. Snapped myself out of it. Checked again in an hour. Still doing horrible. Another 30 seconds of sadness. Repeat every 20 minutes for entire day. Lose desire to be creative. Get frustrated. Eat cinnamon roll/feelings. Rinse. Repeat.
At the end of the day, it’s one post. I don’t care really. And if I do, I care while I’m writing this post because I’m forced to stop and think about it.
I’ll tell you what I DO care about though.
I care in the sense that I wish I was still excited about Instagram. Like, regularly. Once in a blue moon it happens but I’ve lost a bit of the passion. I can’t lie. I struggle to feel inspired and it doesn’t bring me the same joy that it used to (see above).
That’s large in part due to “the algorithm” (decline in likes, slow follower growth, etc), but it’s also because the field is completely oversaturated. There are thousands of other accounts that are here for foodporn. And that’s never been my sole purpose for being a blogger. I’m here and have always been here because I felt my “voice” was unique and I try to bring a little humor and inspiration to the platform. That’s always been my brand, foodporn or no foodporn.
I stand in my truth no matter what. I don’t let anyone move me. And if I move, it’s because I want to. Not because someone else told me to.
When I’m surrounded by people who are aligned with who I truly am as a person, the opportunities come and the drama goes away. This applies to real life too.
The people who started following me for gluttonous foodporn will see a beautiful piece of avocado toast and comment on it with the same enthusiasm and the same drooling-face emoji as a bucket of poutine. You know why? BECAUSE THEY ARE ON MY WAVELENGTH.
Not once has one of my OG-IG followers been like “yo that avo toast nasty, show me pizza”. Because they know that pizza is delicious but so is avocado toast.
Again. You’ll naturally attract people who believe what you believe.
I can literally name right off the top of my head the people who engage with me and my content regularly and respect what I do – they make me feel good about what I’m bringing to the Instagram table. In no particular order, thank you to the following folks who are the most loyal hoes anyone could ever ask for:
And do I thank Instagram for bringing me to this point? Of course I do. I’m not ungrateful and I still respect it as a platform. But I absolutely hate that I feel like I can’t grow or expand as a creator. I want to post different things, not just cheeseburgers, and the fact that I feel like I “can’t” sometimes, is really depressing and I’ll admit, really stupid. It’s social media. I’m fucking scared of social media.
There’s that abusive boyfriend thing again.
So…from this point forward, I’m going to do nothing differently. I’m going to continue doing the things that make me happy and hope it resonates with you. Because that’s what I’ve been doing since day one and I WANT to be inspired again. Hopefully you’ll all join me in this movement.
Let’s make 2019 the year we stop being afraid and start being honest. With ourselves and with each other.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know that’s also a lot to ask for in 2019.