Last week i’ve quit Instagram for good. I’ve started using the service back in 2011 when things were quite different on the platform. This blog will detail my reasons for quitting the service, which may put some perspective on things for some of you photogs out there. Before I start, I’d like to make some basic outlines on what kind of Instagram user I was, because my experience could differ from yours obviously.
- I’ve been, and still am a photography enthusiast.
- The main reason for me joining Instagram was to get some feedback on my pictures, and also enjoy other profiles for inspiration and because of my love for art.
- My profile was not ‘commercial’.
- It wasn’t so much about keeping up with profiles of people I know in real-life.
I. Who are you? (who-who-who-who)
Instagram started as a photo-sharing service back in 2010. Around that time if you were into photography and wanted to share your works of art online, you either had a Flickr account or used one of your social media platforms (most presumably Facebook) for sharing. Each of these solutions had their own quirks or shortcomings, but there was pretty much nothing else that could beat it for mobile use. In comes Instagram, and it took up this whole part of the market for people who were passionate about photography and also wanted to share this passion from their mobile devices. Now before this turns into a rant, i’ll just emphasize how I experienced Instagram back then:
- a friendly user platform where people politely interacted with eachother, pretty much unmoderated except obviously for illegal content.
- all about photography
- sharing photo’s easily
- showing appreciation for other people’s work without condition
Nowadays Instagram is like that friend you once had, but just don’t seem to connect to anymore. On some occasions you both change, and that’s okay. But regarding Instagram:
- Got aquired by Facebook in 2012
- Slowly started implementing changes in functionality and privacy
- A terms and conditions controversy in 2012 about using users’ content for paid or sponsored content or promotions.
- Introduced paid ads in 2013.
- Introduced video stories in 2013
- Timeline algorithm changes in 2016.
- And more (full list at wikipedia)
Remember that friend analogy? My artistic good time buddy, went to business school, started a perpetual popularity contest, and secretly, wholeheartedly wanted to gain lots of financial benefit from our artwork.
II. Followers / “influencers”
I can be short on this topic. Nothing wrong with following certain people you like. When a platform becomes all about following or the followers, that’s when things turn toxic. Call me old fashioned, but in real-life we have a term for these groups; cults. And cults don’t turn out to be great groups to participate in. Enough said.
III. The money
I understand running a business requires funds. Especially when “as” Facebook you acquire Instagram for 1 billion. Also, it’s a free service, so the funds have to be acquired or one goes belly up. So there’s ads in Instagram now worldwide. It’s easy, once there’s ads on your timeline or anywhere else, it distracts from the experience. Real simple. But this is the model they chose. There could’ve been a paid app without ads, but this is the business model they chose. Not to my taste.
This is where the last couple points correlate somehow. When a platform becomes more commercially driven, this has effect on how people interact with eachother. When marketing profiles join for example, they are not adding you as a friend because they like your pictures. But also, when followers become soooooo important; people will do everything to get them. Including hiring BOT services to like other profiles and gain exposure. Sure enough my whole profile got ridden with fake compliments or auto-generated ones, in order to lure me to follow them. There goes the neighbourhood. I could write an analogy, but at this point i’m too disappointed to think of one.
V. Photog- what?
Adding all things up, this service is not about photography anymore. I truly believe it did when Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger started Instagram. But there’s plenty of evidence the acquisition of Facebook changed it all. Just look at the timeline on Wikipedia for validation. This just doesn’t cut it anymore.
At this moment I’m testing VSCO which seems like a healthy environment to share photo’s and also has characteristics which appeal to me (photo challenges, good film simulations, more elaborate blogging functions). It has a heart for photographers, and is still free from all commercial nonsense. Who knows, maybe i’ll write a review about this new friend. Until then, hope this was in any way helpful to you.