Please help me 'gram responsibly.
April 28, 2019 6:46 PM   Subscribe

In part of a rather paranoid, depressive episode a while back, I deactivated my personal/professional Instagram. Surprisingly, it turned out to be beneficial. Now, I would like to re-enter Instagram and social media, but this time more responsibly. Anyone have any tips or words of advice? I'm concerned mainly about being mental health-conscious, privacy-minded, and the feasibility of this endeavor.

Health-Conscious: Endless scrolling of random design photos, "influencers", memes, and friends' stories was doing a number on my psyche and self-worth. The accessibility of it was encouraging procrastination and reclusion. "Curating" my feed, doing posts specifically for followers/friends, and obsessing on likes and captions was starting to shape life decisions. I'd like my return to not encourage another spiral, consume my life and relations, and keep me present. Side note: I'm also working on this in psychotherapy, so I'd prefer answers not in this direction.

Privacy-Minded: I also freaked out about the data I was giving Instagram , not being cool with leaving a data trail that could be monetized for ads or exploited in some way. I've been more conscious about it since (reading privacy policies carefully, scrapping services that I pay with data rather than cash, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook-the-product). I would like to know of any tips that avoids or subverts these things. I assume that means, realistically, keeping the data trail of "galleta monster-the-designer" separate from "galleta monster-the-lovely-human".

Is it Even Possible? Honestly, I'd much rather keep enjoying my Insta-sabbatical, but since I'm a semi-freelance designer in Los Angeles, I'm convinced that zero social media presence is unsustainable. I've had some professional successes directly tied to my account and don't want to lose out on that. Trying to figure out if this is actually possible or not.

I plan to utilize social media mainly as a living portfolio of design work and keeping up with local creative events/pop-ups/works-in-progress. It's not a primary personal cache of my life, though elements of it may enter when professionally appropriate. Right now, I use only one account as both.
posted by galleta monster to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Is it possible to only use Instagram for professional reasons? I have three Instagram accounts, a personal that is private, and has pictures of my children, a professional that documents my work as an artist, and a small page for a very specific project. It has exactly two followers, and its sole purpose is to hold a place and document that project should it develop into something bigger.

All of this to say, I hear you.

One thing that has helped me is to set very specific rules for each account. Art rarely makes it's way to my personal page and my personal life almost never appears on my professional page, and when it does, it is in the form of an anecdote describing the work and not a picture.

I keep the time spent on my professional page focused and treat it as an extension of the time spent on the business of being an artist.

I hope this helps!
posted by Sequined Ballet Flats at 8:45 PM on April 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

What I did was delete my IG and start a new one to which I added (as a follower) only my closest friends and professionally relevant accounts

For the privacy piece, I also do not link this to other social media accounts, upload contacts ever, use my real last name, or tag too many locations in the pics I do post
posted by shaademaan at 11:51 PM on April 28, 2019

I would make a new account for your freelancing, keep it strictly professional, and treat it like a part of work. One of the most successful freelancers I know utilises instagram ruthlessly- this means having a schedule for posting, making new work regularly and re-posting older stuff, tactical use of stories, and only following useful professional contacts and colleagues (this doesn’t mean following fellow artists/designers for “inspo”, which is almost as bad-for-health as following influencers imo).

Pretty sure insta lets you have two accounts in the app- you could have a second private, personal account just for close friends and family. However, having had much the same freakout and deletion as you, I’ve found that in my post-instagram life my relationships have flourished, as I actually take the time to reach out and connect with my long-distance friends, rather than just feeling like I can keep up with their lives via watching their stories. I think the value of being “connected” on social media has been wildly oversold, and is actively preventative of closer and more meaningful connection. If like me, you feel better without this thing in your personal life, I’d encourage you to keep going!
posted by Balthamos at 12:10 AM on April 29, 2019

Other platforms make this a bit easier because for fb and twitter, you could just not have the app on your phone and only use it on your actual computer, so you're not constantly checking it. Instagram's pretty useless on the desktop though - you do really need the app. But if you have an old phone that you don't use, maybe have that as your designated Instagram phone, which is kept with your work kit and only used during working hours (in so far as freelancers have such things) and then switched off in between.

If it has to be on your regular phone, switch off all notifications and hide it either on a back page or inside a folder so it's not right in your face.
posted by penguin pie at 8:49 AM on April 29, 2019

One approach is to pay someone to manage your professional account for you.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:21 AM on April 29, 2019

I don't believe that you will be happy using social media, given what you've already written. I did something similar to you and deleted the majority of my accounts. I'm perhaps more cynical, in that I do not believe that social media's networking/promotional benefits outweigh its costs. I went through multiple rounds of trying out social media platforms, trying to engage with them in a positive way, and then finding I hated the way they made me think and feel.

The advertising-based business model means that these platforms are engineered to encourage compulsive use, anxiety, and reward-seeking behavior. It's how they're designed to make money. Pundits compare social media to cigarettes and slot machines, and they're right.

Social media marketing seems indispensable now for people in the creative world. When I was on Twitter, I had some periods of semi-viral attention to things I made. However, this virality did not translate into good-quality paid work or other valuable outcomes. It was fun and it made me feel validated, but the practical benefit was negligible. YMMV, obviously. I'm just not sold on the idea that you need social media. My IRL networking and promotional activities have been much more fruitful.

I recommend Cal Newport's recent book on the subject, Digital Minimalism.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 1:16 PM on April 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

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