The Problem with Instagram in 2018 (& Why I Quit)

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The story behind why I quit Instagram for 6 weeks. #InstagramOn Dec 21, 2017, I posted for the last time on Instagram.

It wasn’t a conscious decision to quit. It was nearing Christmas, I was too bundled up as a human burrito stuffed with turkey and chocolate, and my pudgey thumbs couldn’t be bothered to scroll and double tap as required by my weird ass job.

It was meant to be a week off. A week to be present with loved ones and see if there is such thing as “too much Cadbury”. (Spoiler: there is not)

This one week off became two.

Two became four.

… and now here we are, 6 weeks later, the DMs slowly trickling in to ask if I’m okay, if I’m still alive and even some who have said they miss me [none of which were my mom…. probably].

After silently lurking in the shadows for so long, breathing heavily and all that, I think it’s finally time to crack open this messy can of worms and let you know why I so badly needed a break.

But first – I need to tell you: this isn’t your typical “Insta-complaint” post. I’m not going to ramble relentlessly about the woes of the algorithm or the artificial aesthetic of the industry. By putting Instagram on pause for 6 weeks, I gained clarity on what the problem really was.

Guys, it’s US. We’re the problem. 

I’ll tell you why very soon, but first, I feel I owe you an explanation about why I needed to take a step back…

PS: As overdramatic as this post may sound, I need you to know that it comes from my experience as a female travel blogger trying to “make it” in this crazy industry. The pressures we face are often unique, and admittedly very 1st world problem-ey. I hope you’ll read with an open mind, or a big bucket of wine to help you through my ranty words.

First thing’s first – Instagram was ruining my self esteem

When it comes to tip toeing the paper thin line between inspiration and making you feel like trash, Instagram is #1. And sure, while I love consuming gorgeous photography and content, sometimes the constant perfection can feel like a big bowl of “eff you” stew.

Your brain starts to overload itself with thoughts like I should be thinner, my legs should be longer, I wish I travelled to cooler places, why isn’t my breakfast in a pool, where’s my ballgown, etc. It doesn’t matter that you know they’re staged, it doesn’t matter that you know they take hours to create or that Photoshop is involved in 90% of it – it doesn’t matter because all you’re confronted with is what you aren’t and what you should aspire to be… and especially when you work in an industry where image and popularity are equated with success, it gets really hard to admit that maybe, you’re just a normal, stubby-legged girl with frizzy hair and 15 grey cardigans. (That is actually not a joke, I counted once).

The pursuit of Instagram fame is tough when you’re just a regular human… and inevitably, you get brainwashed into thinking you should make yourself seem like more. I started constructing this “Instagram” version of me – a flowy dress-wearing, luxury hotel hopping Christina that would (probably) be a d-bag in real life. Here is Exhibit A:

And then, as a result of this constructed image…

I was living my life through a screen

The scariest part about this new version of me was that she began to overtake the real me.

I genuinely started to believe that my life needed elaborate breakfast spreads and fancy experiences. The staged photo shoots I used to pursue “ironically” became a  necessity, and nothing ever felt like enough.

Once upon a time, I could eat a bowl of Froot Loops for breakfast and feel like an absolute queen. Today, Instagram trains me to think my #goals should be an elaborate breakfast spread with 4 juices, 3 courses, all spread out precariously over crisp white bed sheets (which is really impractical by the way, just as a side note).

When I went to Bali last summer, it felt like I had finally “made it”. Not solely because it was a stunning destination (which it is!) but because insta-FOMO had me convinced I was the last Instagrammer on Earth who hadn’t been… and when I arrived, my trip was more about getting good photos for Instagram than it was about enjoying the actual trip. Hey, this 5 star villa is awesome but I wish I had a pool floaty to pose in… Hey, the food here is fresh and delicious but maybe I should order what looks best on camera.

It was this kind of warped and demented thinking that started to completely consume my life. I even started posing like this:

Plus, the algorithm was turning me into a salty, vengeful beeyotch

If you’re a fellow creator reading this, you’ll be familiar with Instagram’s painful and frustrating algorithm.

And if you’re a regular user with no clue what I’m talking about, just know that we Instagrammers have been struggling to get our content seen for months, ever since IG’s feed changed from chronological to the random clusterwhat that it is now.

And like many others, I began stewing in a pot of negativity. I became obsessed with trying to “game” the algorithm rather than produce value for my followers, and as a result, my content became something that didn’t quite feel like “me”. No disrespect to the gorgeous girls killin’ it in high fashion outfits and beautifully staged shots… but they don’t at all reflect who I am.

So because of that, I started hating and resenting Instagram as if it was hellbent on destroying my life.

… which of course, made it increasingly tough to spend any time on it at all.

And so, Instagram just wasn’t fun anymore

Once upon a time, I looked forward to logging onto Instagram. Somewhere along the way though, it began to feel like millions of people trying to one-up each other.

To me, the most toxic thing about Instagram is the way it feeds our desire for more. MORE followers, MORE likes, MORE stuff to get us noticed… and it is honestly the most emotionally exhausting first world problem.

Especially when it is so tied up with your work and career (like it is for me).

What happens is we get caught up agonizing about all the things we don’t have instead of valuing the things that we do. The clothes we don’t have, the press trips we didn’t land, the sexy AF photographer boyfriends that all the “big names” seem to flaunt around (seriously, where is this black market are you finding them in??!!)

Anyways, the truth is this: Instagram is 99% illusion. Not just the dreamy imagery, but the success. The millions of followers that can be bought, the thousands of likes that can be faked and yes, even the weird “BFF” friendship trend where all the attractive grammers are all besties and just hang out together all the time looking perfect. None of them accurately reflect reality.

In 2017, I let these things get to me. I was so obsessed with the idea of success that I forgot to lead with value first. I started posting staged photos that weren’t at all “me”, I did a ridiculous loop giveaway that gave me thousands of followers who couldn’t care less about me, and I became more fixated on numbers and vanity metrics than what I should be prioritizing first and foremost: building connections with others, inspiring people with my content and having FUN. Because as much as this is part of my job, it’s also supposed to be enjoyable, right? That’s why I chose this ludicrously unpredictable career over a 9-5 office job… because I thought it would bring me more joy. If I dread everyday opening up a freaking app, then clearly I haven’t “chased my dreams” properly.

So that’s why I took a break. For 6 blissful weeks. And after this time away came a pretty obvious epiphany…

The problem isn’t Instagram. It’s how we let it influence our lives.

I mean, duh.

This epiphany might sound stupidly obvious to you, but for the longest time, I was so caught up in this filtered dream world that I didn’t realize the obvious.

Instagram isn’t the issue…. we are.

The way that we treat social media platforms like sentient angst-machines is the problem. Along the way, we’ve failed to realize just how much control we have over how these platforms influence us and shape our lives.

Social media can be toxic… but it can also be inspirational.

It can create an artificial world that negatively impacts our mental health, but at the same time, it can also be a connector, and a platform for SO much good.

The most beautiful thing about social media is that we have the power to use it however we want. If you see content you hate, hit ‘unfollow’. If you feel the space is oversaturated with samey content, create something unique. For me, I’m tired of being a wannabe “IG dream girl” and making everything about “me me me”. That’s why moving forward, I want value, education and knowledge bombs to be the focus.

During my time off, I got so many messages asking if I was okay, if I needed support, etc. This in itself meant to me that I was wrong about Instagram – the community is there, the friendships are there… it’s just up to us to sift through the white noise and find them.

And so…

Guys, I’m back. I had my time to think, to reflect, to drink wine by the bucket, and now I feel more excited about creating content than I ever have before. My goal for 2018 is to reclaim Instagram and make it something I enjoy again, and I want to start by focusing on building deeper relationships with my followers, and putting the focus on adding value to the IG space. Will I continue posting pretty photos? Heck yes. But I’m also going to make it my mission to share knowledge, epiphanies, stories and all the amazing facts I learn through my travels.

In fact, in the name of consistency, I’ll be posting daily……. but not just any old thing. I’m committing this year to learning or doing something new each day. That can be as simple as visiting a new place, or filling my brain with a mindblowing fun fact. One a day riiiiiight here.

So if you’ve been sipping your bucket of wine, smugly agreeing to this post like a human “praise hands” emoji, I invite you to join me and hold me accountable over on Instagram.

So, did this post resonate with you, or was I being a total drama queen? Have you ever just wanted to quit Instagram? Drop your two cents in the comments – I’d love to hear those opinions!

My Go-To Travel Favourites:

🧳 Eagle Creek: My favourite packing cubes

💳 Wise: For FREE travel friendly credit cards

🍯 Airalo: My go-to eSIM

🏨 For searching hotels

📷 Sony A7IV: My (amazing) camera

✈️ Google Flights: For finding flight deals

🌎 WorldNomads: For travel insurance

🎉 GetYourGuide: For booking activities

39 thoughts on “The Problem with Instagram in 2018 (& Why I Quit)”

    • Aw Charmaine, that means so much to me!!! I know how you take the time to read every post so it’s an honour that this one is your favourite. So glad it resonated with you <3


    Seriously, Christina. I love reading your blog posts and absolutely love the humor you bring along with them, but this one may just be my favorite. I think about quitting Instagram DAILY. I actually took a week off at the end of August that lasted until mid-January. And then I returned and almost got wrapped up in it again. But I’ve made it my mission to post what I want to post when I want to post it. My feed will NEVER look like it’s come right out of a book, and I’m not going to get 1000s of likes on photos – I may not even get 100. But the stress wasn’t worth it. My hate for Instagram pulled me away from my blog entirely. I stopped everything. And I’d 100% rather have a blog that nobody reads with 0 sponsorships where I’m still writing content than an Instagram account that I have to dedicate my entire life to!

    Wow that exploded much more than I intended it to, but I just couldn’t hold it back!

    • Kelly this is 100% me too! I’ve spent so much time on Instragram trying to define my ‘style’ and plan my feed and comment on others and ask questions in my captions and post at optimal times and analyse my analytics I forgot that I even had a blog!
      This post has been so timely that I’m taking a step back from Instagram planning and getting back to actually posting about the travels we have on our blog.

  2. Christina, as your friend ( I hope) and fellow blogger I not only agree with this, but I am so happy and proud you made a decision for you. All the reasons you listed are good reasons to step away. Instagram really is fun – I promise when you post what you want to post in color themes that feel right in that moment even if it clashes with the last photo. I can’t wait to see the updated insta! <3

  3. Ahh I could’ve written this, except you write better than I do.. so amen! I’m glad you’re back – I’ve missed your funny stories and hilarious captions. Ugh don’t even get me started on trying to come up with captions. I waste so much time staring blankly at my screen only to come up with something that is completely irrelevant.. like me babbling on about avocados in a photo where I’m ‘wistfully’ walking away from the camera into the horizon. The thing I hate about it the most is that in my mind I startd judging other people’s profiles cos the photos weren’t ‘pretty’ enough and then I realised, omg.. what kind of monster have I become? So thanks for calling all of these points out, a lot of us needed this reality check and it’ll inspire a lot of people to post more of what’s real as opposed to a dreamy version of reality.

  4. I was on that same boat, but since summer. I had gotten so tired of how Instagram kept getting just harder plus all the pressure of perfection was horrible. So I took a huge break, and forced myself to take photos just because of the pleasure of doing it and the beauty of the countries visited, and NOT because of Instagram. Result? When arriving to Cappadocia to finally see the balloons, my boyfriend and I said at the same time to not take any pics, because we needed to breathe in first the beauty of such a moment!!! It was amazingly magical. Then after some minutes wen got the pics xD Instagram is awesome, but sometimes we turn to be too mechanical and automatic when it comes to the platform, thinking about just creating content and more content instead of actually taking time for ourselves. This can be applied also as: having just one account for Instagram for conent but also to follow what you love. I made this error too, being unnable at the end to see the posts of people I actually love, and instead liking photos of strangers because I ”had to do it”. Ended up now with another account just for my personal taste and no pressure. We have to think about ourselves, people! <3

  5. Hi Christina, fellow blogger here! *waves* I love this and even though we don’t know eachother personally I’m really proud of you for writing a piece like this and I hope it inspires others out there who may be feeling the same way you did. In our industry Instagram is a necessary evil (I relectantly joined for the first time last year when I launched my blog). Maybe it’s because I’m in my 30’s now but I believe the older we get, the less we seem to care about what others think 😉 You’ve done an exceptional job building a following across your social media platforms so relax a little and enjoy it! I’m a bit of a rebel so I still refuse to post photos of myself on IG, it’s meant my following is much smaller than what it otherwise could be but I figure “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Do what works for you and keep being awesome!! X

  6. I’m not sure where are the articles about how instagram kills self-esteem come from? Obviously it’s curated??? I don’t understand those who think instagrammers look like their pictures do all. the. time. Maybe because I’m younger and have grown up with social media but everytime i take 50 snaps just for one good shot i recognize that every big instagrammer does this too so obviously they don’t really live like that. and i have a lot of fun with it. now, algorithm problems i can relate to but i love the connections instagram has made me and i love taking instagram-worthy shots too, i don’t find it a chore at all.

  7. Girl, you know my feelings on Instagram, and this pretty much sums it all up. I also find it really shit for my self-esteem having had problems with body dysmorphia and disordered eating in the past. These days, I try to follow only friends and people whose content I find really inspiring and beautiful, and leave all those tan bikini girls with their giant breakfasts that they never eat off my feed. Excited to see what you do with your IG!

  8. I so totally agree with this! I actually put off becoming active on Instagram for so long for this exact reason (turns out I’d probably have had way more success on there way back when, thanks algorithms) and I don’t want to let it change how I use it or how I post on it, or how I evaluate my life! It is crazy that people compare themselves to curated photos, but if that’s what’s put in front of you from supposedly relateable people, then of course it’s natural that social media is so impressionable. So I’m just going to carry on enjoying using it rather than turning it into the exact chore I was trying to avoid. Thanks for always keeping it real, even when you weren’t. 😉 Hehehe.

  9. Hey Christina,

    Thanks so much for this post! I just wanted to tell you I support you and I feel in a very similar way myself… Which is why I’ve hardly posted anything for the last 3 months. I felt like I was pressured to post something every day but in fact I didn’t feel like I had anything to share. I got tired of crafting fake moments… I hope to soon come back with fresh content and actually look at Instagram as more of a gallery where I can feature photographs that I made myself with a clear concept. I don’t like how all this pressure is making me feel.

  10. Hi Christina!
    I can’t think of a more well timed and relatable post. I was literally just writing in a comment thread with a few other bloggers about this exact issue. Many of us feel like square pegs trying to fit in round holes. I have a draft semi rant semi self reflection piece on this exact issue.
    I came to the same sort of realization as you-I hate the pressure and the nature of the new Gram but yet focus my energy on trying to align myself with all the peeps that cause me the greatest sense of negativity! (Towards myself nothing against them).
    Thank-you for using your funny, authentic (this time it really does apply) and intelligent voice to bring a different type of focus to this medium!
    Well done my friend well done.
    Looking forward to following your new journey!

  11. YEAH GIRL!! I love how real this post was. I fgeel the same – I felt like I was trying so hard to be like everyone else on Instagram that I forgot how to be myself… and I’m an uncool, dorky idiot who loves taking photos and saying what’s on my mind. So now, that’s what I’m doing on Instagram! I just want to be me – whatever that is 🙂

    Love your stuff xx

  12. In the days before smartphones and IG I spent a year on a boat completely cut off from mainstream media. It had a wonderfully restorative effect on my self-esteem. There’s truth in the lyric “Don’t read beauty magazines, they’ll only make you feel ugly”.

    Fast forward a few years and I started my blog and made the mistake of joining some IG pods. It took me a while (and a lot of butt photos) to realise I’d fallen into the same trap.

    My account is still sitting dormant because I can never think of anything to write in the captions except lyrics to obscure 80s rock music or cheese puns.

  13. I love this post. It’s such a healthy idea. I remember traveling before Instagram was invented and it was so liberating. It felt better to be enjoying something with no notion of having to brag to the world.

    Natalia x

  14. Thank you for writing this. You really hit the nail on the head! I had a similar epiphany recently and have just stopped giving a fuck and just being myself and trying to bring the fun back, connect with people, etc. I don’t follow annoying unrealistic people so I shield myself from the bullshit!! Glad you’re back girl!

  15. I felt the exact same way! Except my quit time nearly rolled into 6 months… oops! I now publish content that I am really proud of and even though the likes vary and the follow/unfollow game that people play is still super annoying- I am proud to show off my photos 🙂 also having a separate private account for loved ones and personal follows is super important for me to step back and have that dose of reality if I feel myself sliding.

  16. It may be a first world problem to some but it’s SO REAL FOR BLOGGERS. There’s so much pressure to be all dolled up and get that perfect Instagram shot. I don’t know about you… but I’m no glitz and glamour kind of gal and more of the one that faceplants while on a hike hahaha. I’m glad you took the break you needed. I did the same thing too and had that realization that Instagram and I needed to see other people, and now I just post what I want, and share what I think is interesting! You do you girl, and I can’t wait to see what’s to come 🙂

  17. I get you entirely, and I’m glad you’re back. I love your feed for your wit, humour and joie de vivre, and it’s good to hear you speak out and value those attributes. Value, education and knowledge sound like brilliant objectives.

  18. I’m going to chime in and say that I’m really tired of Instagram too. Being in my mid 30s, I wasn’t quite affected by the feeling of inadequacy but more pissed they had become a paid platform and dinged my engagement by two thirds. it got tiring posting every day and double tapping and commenting just to try to keep the engagement up. i also ditched IG for a few weeks during the holidays, now i post when i feel like it. done with trying to figure out the algorithm.

  19. Hi Christina!
    Haha, yeah – why isn’t my breakfast in a pool! I have 3 IG profiles, one that is my personal one (where I post all my nonsense and ugly pictures) and my “Travel IG” and my workplace. You know what, it has been so hurtful to see that the sheep farm (!!) that I am working at gets more like, love, new followers (that stays!) and interaction then I do – and I have the double of followers on my Travel IG. Like, why don’t people love me!??? I came to the conclusion the other day, that I am this person behind the camera.. making people shine in the spotlight. That is what I am good at! I have fun putting content on my work place’s profile, but my own.. it is so depressing how little people care! I even had a good friend unfollow me the other day (put in crying smiley). I am not inactive on IG, but I post very little.. It just doesn’t give me any joy anymore. I can totally related to many of the things you write about. Good luck with reclaiming your IG!

  20. Oh my god, this is the best. I totally feel you, it can be so easy to get sucked into the ‘darkside of Instagram’. There was this massive blogger scandal recently in Ireland (where I’m from) basically an insta account was set up calling out all the top bloggers for photoshopping themselves beyond recognition, declaring their friends as winners of their giveaways and so much other crap. It really opened my eyes to how fake insta is and I’m not about that. BTW, I love the way you write – new fan here for sure ❤️

  21. All of social media can be addictive if we let it contol how we use it. This is where the main problem lies. I can understand what you went through which is much of what the movies have been doing for years.

  22. Instagram destroyed my self esteem. I’ve been thinking of leaving it for the longest time, and I am surely about to. I’m an artist. All my life, when I made some art, people would encourage me to keep doing it. I was never anything out of this world, but not terrible either. And here comes Instagram, Art is a form of expression right? And those who are artists, all have their very own style, and uniqueness correct? Now getting back to Instagram, at first, I thought, this would be a perfect way to get my stuff out there. And it was in the very beginning. I’d get about 100 likes on a pic, but then as time went by, my pics would get lesser and lesser likes. Whereas fellow artists who were nothing out of this world also, were getting 230 likes and above… “all the time’. So I’d always be like why? What’s wrong my art? This isn’t a competition, in my mind, it was like people should be liking my stuff, as much as the the next person, because we are expressing ourselves. Not competing against each other. Wow, was I wrong. Surely, if the next person gets more likes than you, well in Instagram’s eyes, it means the next person’s art is better than yours, etc. And that isn’t the case at all, because it isn’t better. I started to look around and noticed that some of these people, excessively and exaggeratedly, complimented each other. Where it seemed to some to degree, like they were kissing each other’s asses. I mean some of these compliments, sounded so exaggeratedly fake, that it was more like: I’ll like your pics, only because you always like mine etc. So the friendlier you are, the more likes you’ll get. Not because of your art, solely, but because you’re super nice. What the f***? It’s ridiculous. I don’t even post my art anywhere anymore. Instagram seriously destroyed that for me. 🙁

  23. Great post! I like how it’s balanced. There is some good to come from Instagram so I’m reticent to completely leave it as well. I guess it’s about managing the high potential it has to have negative affects too. It’s a learning process for me to get that right but really glad you wrote this article as it helps!

  24. I liked this post. Here’s the thing, the problem is Instagram. As another commenter said, it is a necessary evil. Instagram (and all successful social media platforms) depends on the engagement of users for it’s very existence. So when people blame themselves for their addiction or their inability to restrain from comparing it’s a really needlessly self-shaming attitude. I used to work at FB/Insta headquarters. So everyone is clear, there are armies of engineers, data scientists, user interface researchers and designers, marketing teams whose jobs are based on getting people to engage. I’ve had conversations with some of these people. These apps are popular because they understand how to exploit our psychology.
    Here are some great resources to understand how these companies design their products. The bottom line is, social media is about its bottom line.
    Book – How to Break up with your smartphone
    The attention merchants – Tim Wu

  25. I totally agree with everything you say, except one thing: Instagram (and other apps/sites like it) are absolutely the problem. They are not just social medias, they are advertisement display panels designed to make us want to scroll them indefinetely and come back to them every 5 minutes because we fill anxious about what might have happened.
    What I mean by that is that we should not blame ourselves for spending a lot of time on them, because every aspects of them are designed to appeal to very primitive instincts of habits, rewards and anxiousness in our brains.
    We should instead be conscious of this and claim back our available brain time.

  26. I can’t believe I just ran across this article. I literall just screamed into my phone IG is ruing my life!!! No one on here gives a shit about real people! I posted a a post about volunteering with women who have mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions and have been incarecerated. I nosedived!!! Mind you I wasn’t a big person anyway, a brand, blogger just used it for social entertainment at first until I decided to write a book about my life and post a few posts besides random beautiful pictures. Well that’s not the ticket here!! I really dont have the skills most of you girls anyway on technology and that frustrates me but my lifestory has been realisticaly unbelievable than the average person. Too long. Sorry. Helping save lives means nothing on IG. This isn’t real. I assume everyone on here is 100% together w no past. Wow. Love your story. Guess I’ll be off social media because if you’re not jumping out of an airplane in Africa on Monday, sking the Alps Tuesday, Wind Surfing in Australia the next day and look like an IG model or running naked thru your livingroom to a Cardib song you have no spot on this channel. Sad I’d hoped to be of real help. People are dieing everyday because they’re not enough. Thank you so much for your article. Karla

  27. Hi Christina
    Thank you for your insightful and motivating post. Your writing is really good. I am glad to see there are other people out there that feels the same way. I agree with most of the comments other people left.
    I stumbled upon this post because I am also considering quitting. For an online interior design startup with little to showcase, IG is a killer. For some 100 likes is good, if I reach 30 I’m glad.
    I am real and I like real. And I truly want to help people transforming their spaces to ensure their wellbeing. But I’m not so sure this can be communicated and appreciated through IG. I seem to lose more followers than gaining and it is so exhausting, I don’t think I’m up for this challenge and it’s doing nothing good for my self esteem.
    I hope that you are now deeply happy and enjoying your travels and photos and writing!

  28. This hit home. Apart from being insightful and honest, its so well written. Lighthearted, colourful imagery. I see myself with that bucket of wine! I am a a cinematographer based in Dubai. My own YouTube channel (dee.dxb) is an outlet for creativity, story telling and film-making. The day it stops being fun, I’ll probably stop. Or take a very long break. Thanks for this, really enjoyed reading!

  29. Christina, delete Instagram. You are still being consumed by the necessity to vicariously project your life onto others, as if you are a weak woman who depends social presence in order to feel as if you exist – which you are not! This article is wonderful, but all you have done is changed the shell of your “practice”. Changing the veneer on top will not influence what is imside, for as the saying goes: a monkey in a suot is a monkey no less. Legitimately, I stand by the belief that the only thing Instagramers care about is their own narcissist virtual participation… nothing more. I am not some puritanical elitist – far from it – but trust me when I say: Instagram is cancer.

  30. Love this post! My Instagram app stopped working on my phone a few weeks ago and I haven’t looked back.

    Now I’m posting from my tablet and limiting myself to an hour of Instagram time a week to catch up with everyone. That twitch to check my phone every 20 minutes is gone.

    Dee ~ Vanilla Papers


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