It’s no secret that Instagram can be damaging to our mental wellbeing—the studies are out there. But let’s be realistic, Instagram is pretty hard to walk away from. I recently realized I was spending way too much time on Instagram. As a freelance writer and marketing consultant, I spend a decent amount of time on the app promoting my writing and helping clients with their Instagram presence. I realized that whenever I would pop in to post a photo for a client or share a project I’d been working on, that I would also sneak in a few minutes of scrolling. Eventually I realized that not only did I need to cut down on the time I was spending on the app, but how I used it. Which is why I took a few steps to make my Instagram feed smarter.
Do a Cleanse
First things first. I was following way too many accounts. Some were brands whose products I liked, but whose content I didn’t find very interesting. Some were bloggers and influencers I thought I should be following because my friends and colleagues were. And some were people that were no longer in my life and that I didn’t need to keep tabs on anymore. In ten minutes I ruthlessly combed through the list of accounts I was following and unfollowed any accounts that didn’t give me joy. That’s right, I Marie Kondo’d my Instagram. If there are accounts you have to follow to keep the peace, like former coworkers or friends of friends that you wish you didn’t have to follow, you can utilize the new “mute” function which allows you to continue to follow accounts without actually seeing their posts in your feed or through Instagram Stories. No one’s feelings get hurt and you spend less time scrolling past posts you don’t want to see.
Good Vibes Only
If there are any accounts that make you feel unhappy, anxious, insecure, jealous, or angry, then you should unfollow them this very second. Once you have, that leaves you plenty of room to follow some accounts that only give you really good vibes. I love Tank.Sinatra who shares feel good stories from around the world. Poet Cleo Wade is worth a follow for beautiful poetry that will inspire you. And Girlboss will give you all the you’re a total badass who can do anything feels, while also giving you tangible advice for how to succeed in work and life. And of course, you can’t forget about accounts like Animals Doing Things that only share adorable videos and photos of animals.
Pick a Cause
I fell in love with Instagram because it provided me with a visual platform to find style inspiration. I still follow plenty of bloggers, fashion brands, and stylists, but I like to mix up the accounts I follow purely for fun with ones that support causes I truly believe in. What causes or charities are you passionate about? I love supporting brands that encourage plant-based lifestyles so I follow VegNews Magazine, Veestro, and World of Vegan. I also like to support accounts that are fighting for the rights and prosperity of people and animals internationally. The Little Market is a fantastic brand that helps women from around the world build careers through artisanship and Save The Elephants is fighting every day to secure the future of Elephants.
I wish I had time to hit the books every day, but unfortunately that’s not going to happen. I felt guilty when I realized the time I spent on Instagram could be time spent learning, so I filled up my feed with accounts that would help me learn. I loved my French classes in college, but rarely cracked open my old textbooks. Now I follow half a dozen French vocabulary accounts. The accounts frequently share vocab, idioms, and phrases that are helpful to know and whenever one pops up in my feed, I stop for a second to review it. Pick a language, any language, and you’ll surely find plenty of accounts that want to help you learn it. I was recently reflecting on how I wished I’d taken more art history classes in college, so I decided to follow Artsy, whose blog and podcast I really enjoy when wanting to learn more about art history and what’s currently happening in the art world. Their Instagram account doesn’t go as in depth as much as their other platforms, but it’s still a great way to be exposed to art. Sotheby’s may be where the rich and famous go to buy art and antiques, but I like to follow their account for all the interesting facts they share about the artwork featured in their auctions. And when I’m ready to curl up with a good book, I always check to see what Girls at Library are currently recommending.
Instagram gets a lot of flack, and some of the criticism is very fair, but at the end of the day it’s up to you how you use it. Hopefully with these tips you can make Instagram work for you!
Jacqueline DeMarco is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Orange County, CA. She loves working with lifestyle publications and brands to create content that is engaging, educational, and entertaining. Outside of her work, Jacqueline is passionate about animal rights, traveling, and reading women-penned memoirs.