What’s left is a constantly mutating product that copies features from whatever popular service — Snapchat, TikTok, or whatever. It is all about marketing and pushing substandard products and mediocre services pushed by influencers with less depth than a sheet of paper.
Instagram For Me
Instagram replaced Facebook for me as the place to keep up with what friends or family might be doing. I keep a personal Instagram account mainly to keep up with friends and family. There’s a couple accounts I follow who use it as a traditional photography app - for the rest it’s all status updates in visual form. I go back and forth between using it to post an interesting photo I took (Instagram v1 style), and posting 9 photos and a video of a family camping trip (Instagram v5? style).
I also have a business account because I feel like I should - but I use it in spurts, and really could delete it without any noticeable impact on my business other than the time it would free up from me feeling like I need to check it.
Instagram For My Kids
Seeing how my kids use Instagram, I want to hurl the app into the sun and watch it burn for a thousand years. We’ve given our oldest 2 Instagram accounts in order to keep up with youth group activities, and naturally they’ve connected with friends and family as well. But they spend 3 minutes checking out the photos or stories from those friends, and then the rest of their screen time allotted flipping through the Reels tab.
I love me some TikToks more than the average adult. But seeing my kids mindlessly swipe through Reels feels especially gross somehow. I want them to experience media, culture, and find their own funnies - but it feels like I’m just letting them walk up to the McDonalds counter at breakfast and order a Big Mac with large fries and a coke every day. The long term effects of “swipe away in 2 seconds if it’s boring or not funny” remain to be seen, but it doesn’t feel good right now.
It’s nearly impossible to move off of Instagram though. The only other platform used by their friends is Snapchat, and the discover tab on Snapchat feels even more unhinged than Reels on Instagram.
If I could remove the Reels tab from Instagram, I’d worry a lot less about what my kids might discover on the app.
Instagram Is The New Mall
In an attempt to be all apps to all people, Instagram is steadily becoming the new home shopping network as well:
The company just announced a new creator marketplace which means creators (much like celebrities of yore that hawked wares on QVC and HSN (the Home Shopping Network) can do the same for the brands. “Social media is essentially the new roadside billboard, only it accomplishes the goal of traditional advertising in a much savvier way,” Bankrate.com analyst Sarah Foster told Fortune.
Count me out. As above, if I could remove the shopping tab from Instagram, I’d worry a lot less about what my kids might discover on the app.
If Not Instagram, Then What?
I don’t have the answer for what to do instead because there’s not going to be enough people moving off Instagram to move the needle anytime soon. I’ve tried formally quitting Instagram and Facebook multiple times, but something keeps me from fulling deleting my accounts. Much like the occasional stop at McDonald’s on the way back from camping, I can’t quit the junk food of the internet completely.
For now I’ll be over on TikTok watching the memes my kids will be watching in a month on Reels. 😆