In defence of Instagram and all the wonderful things, it is still capable of.

Today started like most days with my alarm going off on my phone. Which means that like most people the first thing I tend to touch in the morning, yep, my phone.

Soon after, I did the “quick skim”. Nothing too urgent on email but my Messenger has a few texts from mum which I’ll get to eventually. I have been tagged on a few things on Instagram. My sister posted an IG story about making Greek Easter desserts and my friend’s new baby is getting bigger and bigger. #Bless

Moving on to LinkedIn for the daily dose of inspirational pep talk, checking new connection requests and messages and… there it is.

It has happened again. I see it and I know we have reached this point once more.

The dreaded what is social media doing to your life post. The semi hypocritical “social media is ruining my life” videos from people that make money through social media.

What has led me down a rabbit hole this morning is an article featured on Thrive Global, where Finn Thormeier talks about how following zero people on Instagram helped him to refresh his mindset and start again.

This article and Finn’s other posts talking about this on Linkedin and Instagram make lots of sense. I get it! It also makes a lot of valid points!

Read now: On Unfollowing Everyone On Instagram

Let’s start with the facts. Finn knows his stuff. I have been following him on Linkedin for a while and there is no hypocritical b.s when it comes to his videos. He is a social media strategist, founded a company, has a large following and is super likable.

The Facts

has a cool namehas a cool name
no companyhas a company
works with/on social mediaworks with/on social media
makes money from social mediamakes (probably)
more money from social media
looks and acts older than her agelooks younger that his age
Combined social media following of 2,000 peopleCombined social media following
of something like 50,000
(I didn’t check thoroughly)
Decided not to unfollow everyone on InstagramDecided to unfollow everyone on Instagram

So it is very clear I am obviously the expert when it comes to social media!

It doesn’t matter if you or the person you forward this article to has a massive following on social media like Finn or whether you are on a low scale like myself. You will one day be faced with this decision. Should you be following zero people on Instagram or at least deleting everyone in order to start from scratch? You will now start seeing signs everywhere!

So read this article, go read Finn’s articles, go read some other articles and then make up your mind. Balance!

What are your life values?

Let’s dive right in. I recently sat down with a life coach to set clearer, achievable goals in my life and recalibrate the way I go forward. It was an interesting and rewarding experience and one which I recommend to everyone.

One of the key things we touched on early on is the idea of life values. What are they? How do you identify them? And furthermore why knowing what they are will help guide your actions, behaviour and the way you approach the actions and behaviours of others.

If you are in no position to see a life coach, you can find resources online that will help you determine your life values. Ideally, you will want to start with a massive list and slowly start eliminating.

The thing to keep in mind here is whether you are evaluating a value as something you need, or as something you believe is important for the way you live, work and go through life. You will want to pick based on the latter.

So, I did the exercise, figured out my values and started seeing life a tiny bit differently.

When the article popped up on my LinkedIn, I was not open to Finn’s suggestion which made me think, why?

The answer that came to me was pretty clear. I can’t be following zero people on Instagram cause it doesn’t align with my top values.

2. Connection3. Communication

Un-following everyone on social media platforms just seemed to go against the whole idea of building a community and having connections with people from all around the world.

I open my Instagram feed to reconnect with people I haven’t heard from for a while and see pictures of my cousins growing up while I am on the other side of the world. Find out about birthdays and anniversaries and graduations. Then call, text, and message people that have birthdays, anniversaries and graduations so we can catch up. I find out about cool events my friends are attending and farmer markets they visit on weekends.

I see cute pictures of dogs, funny memes and pictures of food that remind me how much I love dumplings. There are yoga people that remind me to do some damn yoga when I am too stressed and entrepreneurial business people that post those awesome cliche “Go smash it” quotes we all love to hate but need to hear on Monday mornings.

But you know what the craziest thing is about it all?

In his article, Finn’s reason for unfollowing all the people on Instagram ties back to community and connection.

I would not be surprised if they are some of his top values as well.

I actually feel I got better in touch with my community. As I’m spending less time mindlessly scrolling, I have more time actually responding to DMs and comments. I ask more questions on my stories and read all of them because I need to be more intentional how I get information from them. I still look at other people’s content and engage with it. 

Thrive Global,
written by: Haley Hoffman Smith

So have we reached an impasse, what are we to actually do?

Understand that you are the master of your feed.

With the exception of ads (which is a whole other story), our feed is a reflection of who we are. The people we hang out with, the things we like to do and the things we would like to be doing. If we start lying to our feed about who we are, we start seeing things that don’t match with our real self. Scrolling through a feed like that, starts feeling empty, fake and pretentious.

If you are constantly annoyed at seeing dog memes on your page, then stop liking pictures of dog memes, or following people that share dog memes, or simply report those unwanted pages so you don’t see their stuff as much.

Related: Things I Try To Remember Before I Press Send + How I Fail

Unfollow strategically

While following zero people doesn’t appeal to me, neither does the idea of following 7,000. Who, what, how? I am sure that as I continue to go through life, my network, friends and acquaintances will continue to grow, but will I ever know or admire 7,000?

I have been a proud social media user for a good decade and my follower count has never gone above 500 hundred and that is loads of people!!

Every few months or so you can touch base with your following and make sure that everyone that is there is there for a reason.

Login To Give Not Take

Unless your name is Beyonce, Oprah, Barack Obama or SussexRoyal your social media feed functions as a conversation. You set out topics of discussion or themes with your pictures. People respond you respond back and then you also go start conversations on their profiles.

If you are a celebrity then your account is not a conversation. It’s a one way curated portrayal of what is going on in your life and people tune in regardless because they want to know what you are up to.

What does Beyonce, Oprah, Obama and the SussexRoyals have in common?

They all have 0-20 people they follow on Instagram.

It sends a very clear message that the page functions only for the entertainment of the masses. Most of them even have the comment section disabled. Similarly to watching them on TV or your favourite movie, their presence is far removed from the conversation setting of social media.

When your feed consists entirely of people that have or try to have celebrity status, your feed is all about consumption. You are a sponge that is absorbing what people buy, where they are travelling, what they are wearing and how have they named their kids.

But if your feed is about creating a conversation with friends from far away places you have yet to meet, then you engage, exchange ideas, learn and grow.

  • People here will say that this all sounds nice but Instagram is simply not the right platform for this kind of engagement. Well, I think that’s the wrong kind of attitude and here is why…

Your vibe attracts your tribe.

You take back what you give and if what you are giving is not authentic it’s self-serving and has already decided it hates Instagram then that’s what you’ll probably get back in return.

If you want to make real connections, follow real people and don’t try to increase your followers by buying bots or playing the follow/unfollow game with random people. (yes, it still happens)

If you don’t want to be distracted, don’t open click-bait articles in spammy accounts that offer no value.

If you want people to genuinely engage with your content, then you will need to genuinely engage with them as well and that can’t happen if you are following zero people.

Is there a conclusion to this?

Social media and Instagram in particular, is not the evil monster of productivity we sometimes make it out to be. Unless you are a celebrity, people want to interact with you and your profile is a way to have that conversation, so join in and be yourself, everybody can spot a fake!

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following zero people on Instangram
following zero people on Instangram

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