A few months ago, I was visiting my friends at Vitamix HQ.
It was a wonderful, inspiring, and exciting visit.
My lunch session with the Social Media team, however, was not.
Now, let me be clear: the food and company were good. Great, even! I hope to do it again.
But as expected, the advice was no surprise: Do a million things for a million different social networks despite little to no identifiable return on investment.
And for Life is NOYOKE, that means do all that stuff myself (or hire which make zero sense given the previously mentioned zero ROI thing).
One lunch attendee, though, suggested something that seemed doable. It was advice for which I was most grateful.
She suggested, “More Instagram!”
She was already one of my few followers and wanted more. Selfies, food, workouts, travel, whatever.
Me: How often?
Me: Wouldn’t daily Instagrams be annoying?
Her: No way. Anything less than daily is not enough. More than daily is the only way it can get annoying.
Easy enough. I can do that. One Instagram, daily. Monday – Friday.
So I did just that – Instagrammed daily
Plenty of food pics, dog pics, and selfies to go around.
I even threw on a hashtag #wwmw at the beginning of the first few to tell Melissa I was taking her advice. What would Melissa want?
But soon, there was a problem.
I ran out of original material
We are all creatures of habit.
Me though? I find something I like and stick to it.
I wear the same thing every day. #nonewclothes.
I eat the same ten things. #nonewfoods
I enjoy playing with my little black dog named Lucy. #yougetthepoint
I have a pretty fiancée and we love each other. #puke
I do travel, but it’s often by car. #cornfieldsfordays
I work from home, and in the winter will go days without leaving the block. #quickwalkswithlucy
Bottom line: My life is not very exciting. Even a single 1 x 1 picture per day becomes like a broken record pretty quickly.
And this is actually a good segway.
Instagrams are easy (and pretty fun) when life is exciting
My favorite, and not coincidently most “liked” Instagrams are from travel or special events. This wedding, our engagement, Lake Tahoe, my new nephew, a selfie during a talk I gave.
These are moments at which I want to look back and cherish. Captured moments of joy, awe, and wonder at the beauty of life.
But when life is boring, so is posting on Instagram (unless you fake it)
And I can’t fake it.
I’m not excited about showing you the same simple dinner I eat every night. I know you don’t care about my dog. And I’m not proud of my latest selfie.
Life is boring sometimes.
Pretending that it isn’t by posting a filtered 1 x 1 of some basic crap I’ve done a million times doesn’t make it exciting.
It makes it annoying.
Moreover, what happens when life is neither joyous nor boring? What happens when it gets legitimately sad?
What happens when someone get sick. Or when relationships go sideways? Or money is tight?
Am I supposed to show you my #vegan dinner pretending like it means anything to me?
You could be #raw with your Instagrams when times are tough, but you really have to dig deep.
Because as the cliche goes…
Pictures are worth 1,000 words
A really good picture can embody so much emotion and complexity and meaning.
Usually, though, they don’t. And they aren’t worth the bandwidth the rode in on.
If you want to tell a story with a single Instagram pic, you have to travel. Get out in the world. Understand what’s behind the picture.
#foodporn tells a story of three words. I ate this.
To tell a story with words (NOT pictures), I, too, must travel. But I can just close my eyes and let my brain do the flying.
On this blog, I promise to publish something (just words) daily. I can always find something that’s profound, even if it’s brief.
It’s really tough to connect in that kind of way with a daily Instagram.
And then, of course, there’s the ROI thing…
Instagram drives zero traffic (and, therefore, makes me no money)
Let me begin by saying Instagram is important for some people. And it’s important for some businesses. (Hi, Mom!)
But here’s the deal:
People don’t visit Instagram to visit websites. They use it to kill time. They go to satisfy curiosity. They go to take a break.
Now, this blog generates zero revenue. But I enjoy doing it. It’s cathartic. It’s like daily exercise. And who knows? Maybe parts of it will turn into another project (a small book or a podcast mini-series).
Point is this: I don’t write this blog for the money. I love it.
Instagram, on the other hand?
Well, I think I’ve made it clear that it feels like a chore to me. I enjoy producing one out of 20 of the posts I’ve done in the last few, daily-posting months.
Moreover, it’s a chore that fucks with my head. I get way too wrapped up in the quality and quantity of the “likes” I get from my Instagram posts. It’s almost always disappointing. Maybe it’s what someone in an abusive relationship feels like? The harder you work the less positive feedback you get, and when there’s negative feedback (silence) you’re dejected.
Point being: Instagramming daily is not only a job that I loathe, but it also doesn’t pay!
Why the poor ROI?
So many reasons…
Daily Instagrams surely are not helping increase demand for anything I do
Daily Instagrams have done a lot of nothing.
It has not increased my Instagram followers.
It has not increased Life is NOYOKE newsletter subscribers.
It has not convinced anyone to buy any product I sell or promote.
In fact, it’s done the opposite.
Why subscribe to Updates, the Life is NOYOKE newsletter when you can see a daily dose of Lenny on Instagram?
And not only does it dilute what I do, it dilutes what I do. (Yeah, you read that right.)
Productivity equation: 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 8
Every Instagram post takes two hours of my day.
Time to find a pic. Time to edit it. Time to write a caption. Time to edit said caption. Time to look and see if people liked it. Time to see what other people are Instagramming.
So I can dedicate less time, effort, brainpower, creativity to the things I actually care about? The things I think actually make a difference?
And this isn’t even counting the time it takes to switch gears to another task.
(That’s how 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 8. The gear switch and fending off ensuing distractions adds to the task duration.)
With this math, giving up Instagram means I could put an extra ten hours per week into things that actually matter.
Things for you (Updates, ULB, Minimooning). Or things for me (the gym, personal projects, etc.)
Or, how about just BEING?
Wait, let me take a pic
Life has taken a back seat to Instagrammable moments.
Can you pass me a fork? Always makes the pics look better.
Can you take a pic of me playing with Lucy? Try to get her jumping.
Hang on. Can I use your phone? I need to snap a pic and my phone is MIA.
It’s like I have a needy child with me constantly asking questions. Now? No, not now. Now? Fine, make it quick.
Real kids are coming soon enough. Can I please just live?
Another way to look at it: I’m my own paparazzi. Just leave me alone!
Yet, the most common question is, “Won’t you miss people’s updates?”
My Instagram feed is almost entirely inappropriate
The other day, I opened up Instagram and saw a common thread among the first ten pictures.
Ones that I’ve been with. Ones that I would be with. Ones my buddies are with. Ones that fall into none of the above (ones I work with, for example) but don’t appear as such to the casual onlooker (my fiancée).
Old lovers, high school acquaintances, blogger friends, super models named Bar Refaeli. What do I need that for?
Of course, I won’t even mention the ads now being served on Instagram. No thank you.
Of course there are some concerns.
The things everyone says when I say I’m done with Instagram.
What will you do with all your great pictures?
Yes, Instagram is a nice way to keep pictures in one place.
But I don’t actually own them. Facebook does.
And Google can’t find them.
No, I’m not exactly sure where I’ll put them all.
But I’m pretty sure Instagram is not the best place. It’s just the most convenient.
How will you stay connected?
The old fashioned way. Visits and requests to see photos while I’m there. Or, FaceTime.
What are you going to do with your Instagram account(s)?
This sign will be posted.
Everything you found there can now be exclusively found on “Updates”, the Life is NOYOKE newsletter.
What about just Instagramming occasionally?
Tempting. But I think it’s in everyone’s best interest if those really special ones showed up in my newsletter.
Are you okay?
Never been better! Working harder and living happier than I ever have.
So what now?
I dread Instagramming daily, it provides no ROI, and my feed is completely inappropriate.
Why I’m saying “Bye” to Instagram, at least for a while
Although I don’t think I’ll need it, I’m giving myself an out with the caveat “at least for a while.”
Because there may come a time when Instagramming satisfies my soul.
But right now, it doesn’t.
I will always hold a special place in my heart for you.