Why I Suck At The Instagram Game

Beware: I’m going to ramble about Instagram. Specifically, Instagram users and the games they play. Yes, I’m on Instagram. In fact, I have two accounts — my “main” account and an account dedicated to my film photography. I like Instagram but I’m not obsessed with it. There is no correlation between my perceived self-worth and how many followers I have. If the opposite were true I’d be in trouble. Between my two accounts I’m feebly scratching my across the 1000 follower mark. This isn’t a complaint and I’m shedding no tears about having a supposedly meager following. Why? Because it just doesn’t matter. I’ve never paid for followers and I never will. Those who follow me do so, I assume, because they actually like my photos. I mean, that’s my main motivation for following someone. Sure, I follow some people for whom photography may not be where their true talent lies, but they’re nice people and I enjoy the interactions I have with them. The fact is, I’d much rather have fewer followers and more meaningful exchanges with that handful of individuals. I don’t see the point of having 10,000 accounts following me for no other reason than they were paid for. I’m not suggesting that no one can organically amass a very large following — I know of photographers who are able to do that. But when I view an account that has posted 29 photos of their patio furniture and they have 19,257 followers, I know what’s up. 

Bronica SQ-A | Ilford FP4+ | Kodak D-76

In the sense that we’re such a status driven society, I suppose I can kinda-sorta understand — followers are the ultimate status symbol for social media connoisseurs. The more you have, the cooler you must be. What I find somewhat less understandable is the obnoxious practice of following someone just to unfollow them after they’ve followed you. Really, how small-minded and self-obsessed do you have to be to effectively “trick” someone into following you? Follow me, don’t follow me. The choice is yours. But if you follow me with the expectation that I’m going to follow back and you’re going to use me just to pad your follower count…nope. I get it, I’m one person out of several thousand that follow you, so losing me isn’t going to break your heart. The point is, I’m not playing along. That’s not what I’m on Instagram for. And what’s with those people who follow you and never…NEVER hit the like button for a single photo? I’ve had people follow me and, over time, after noticing I haven’t received any likes from them yet they’re posting regularly, I figure they unfollowed me. But when I look into it, they are, indeed, still following me. I don’t have a clue what the point of that behavior (or lack thereof) is. On top of Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm, it’s just one more thing that tempts me to say, “F*** all this.” 

I post to share my work with others, and I’m grateful to those who like and comment on a regular basis. I’ve made a few friends on Instagram, some of which I’ve met in real life and others I hope to meet one day. I like and comment on others’ photos not out of a sense of obligation because they follow me, but because I’m in one way or another inspired by what they post. If the fact that I have no interest in playing the Instagram “game” means I’ve hit my follower ceiling, I’m good with that. 


That is all.

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