Time to ditch Instagram (or social media altogether)?

A photo of the original Instagram homepage from back in the day

I joined Instagram fairly early on, if I recall. It was back in the hey-day of social media where new apps were novel and exciting to try out. There was never a great deal of trepidation or suspicion with creating an account. You just signed up, followed a few buddies and away you went. Posting photos, enjoying seeing what your friends were up to. It was all so simple.

Fast-forward to today. We live in a world where apps are continually competing for our attention. Doing all they can to give you that dopamine hit that'll get you hooked and keep coming back, a sort of modern-day digital drug dealer.

Instagram recently announced (albeit very quietly) they were going to start using users' public posts to train their AI, offering an opt-out for anyone opposed.

I've filled out their opt-out form and they've said they'll honour my request but let's face it, I've no idea whether they'll actually honour my request. Even if I could find that out, what could I do if it turns out they'd ignored me?

For a while now, though I've still been using Instagram, Threads and a little bit of Facebook, I've been growing weary of it. The need to constantly be posting to get the algorithm interested in what I do in the hope it'll actually put my posts in front of people who follow my account. Looking at the insights, sadly, that doesn't appear to be the case.

The social media landscape is changing. The Tik-Tok-ification of platforms is making followers less relevant (as far as the algorithm is concerned, at least) which makes me question what worth is it for me being on there as a user? I follow a lot of art accounts and I'm 100% certain I don't see a good mix of everyone. I see way more of certain accounts and less of others which seems to form a sort of self-fulfilling bias. If I happen to like a couple of posts from one account, IG will show more of that account and suppress others.

It's all so exhausting.

As a user, I'm becoming more and more aware of how I'm being hooked into addictive browsing behaviour and as a creator, I don't have the time, energy or artwork to be posting 5, 6, 7, 8+ times a day. To get anywhere these days feels like it's a full-time job.

All that being said, I feel conflict because I want to share my art with those who are interested and I love seeing work by other people and social media is the best place for it, I just hate playing the algorithm game.

At this point, I'm still undecided what to do. I'm tempted to use Substack more where posts aren't algorithm-driven but I'm wary of them starting to play that game in future when they want to scale up the platform. But Substack isn't without it's problems for me. It'd be more or less starting from scratch, getting people to follow me on there from other platforms and I'm not sure it's worth putting in the time without being sure it's going to pay-off.

While I do like sharing my stuff, part of me just wants to say "Fuck all of it" and go back to how it was when I was a kid when I was just making stuff for myself.

I need to give it more thought before deciding what to do but right now, I'm just a bit fed up of the whole social media thing.