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Instagram Is Ruining my Life

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Instagram Is Ruining my Life
“I hate Instagram”

The confession comes after a few drinks, blurted out by a fellow blogger as we walk home from the pub. Maybe I’m projecting, but there seems to be an air of guilt to the statement. Certainly a slight conspiratorial tinge. Because we’re bloggers, and we’re supposed to love Instagram, aren’t we? But as we walk down the road on a tipsy Friday night, I shrug off the guilt and wearily admit that, yes, after years of it being my favourite social l media, I hate Instagram too.

This past week, I’ve felt it more than ever. I’ve been on a work trip, trying hard to impress a client, and I’ve made myself so stressed over Instagram that it’s made me physically sick. My eyes hurt from how much I’ve looked at my phone. I’m embarrassed to consider the amount of time I’ve spent refreshing the page over and over, watching the likes creep up one at a time. And enough is enough. I hate Instagram! Man it feels good to get that off my chest.

It’s not just the recent algorithm change – although that might have been the tipping point. Suddenly, it’s much harder to get our photos seen by our followers, and a lot of bloggers, myself included, have seen a drop in likes and comments. Which is not only painful from a business perspective, but also just hurts. It’s a little bit crushing to watch a photo you’re proud of flop. When your career is pretty much standing on the internet shouting “look at me, look at me”*, it really, really hurts when people start turning away.

*sorry, bloggers!

But that was only really the final straw. Instagram has been ruining my life for years now and I’ve only just begun to notice.

It all began with “The Grid”. Other bloggers know what I’m talking about. Normal people, who use Instagram just for fun (what’s that like?!) probably don’t. Essentially, somewhere along the line, some social media guru or other who knows everything about How-to-Get-More-Followers decided that that golden rule is to curate your Instagram as a gallery.

To think of it not one photo at a time, posted in the moment (remember when the “insta” meant “instant”?*), but as a whole. To post photos in an order so that all the pictures on your profile form a grid. Maybe all the colours match, or you always use the same signature, bleached-out editing style. Whatever it is, the photos have to form a grid. More people will follow you (according to science). And so-and-so is doing it, so you’d better do it too.

*Ah, the good old days!

But it’s BORING. There, I said it. Some ‘grammers love doing it. But for me, it’s taken all the joy out of Instagram. I used to just take a lovely photo I was proud of and pop it up on Instagram to share with everyone.

Then along came The Grid and slowly it took over my life until I was totally obsessed, to the point where I’d hold back from posting a photo I loved if it didn’t “fit”. And slowly, all the fun was sucked out of what used to be my favourite social media.

Then there’s the other big problem with Instagram, the one that’s already been talked about quite a bit by folks much cleverer than me. This is the bit I struggle to articulate. The way Instagram is quite possibly ruining all our lives a little bit. It’s the unrealistic expectations. The perfection.

Seeing other, prettier, more fashionable bloggers looking immaculate in beautiful dresses while they’re travelling only makes me painfully conscious of the way I so rarely look immaculate or fashionable myself. Of the way my constantly shiny face, my scruffy outfits, my wobbly tummy, my crooked teeth, and all the rest of my least favourite flaws, are completely and utterly un-instagrammable. Of how I myself am pretty much un-instagrammable, because I’m a perfectly ordinary looking mildly flawed (and sometimes reasonably pretty) normal person and normal no longer seems to have any place on Instagram.

Keeping it real – complete with tubby belly and inability to get into a hammock. 

Instagram has become the realm of the incredible, the beautiful, and the perfect, not just in terms of people but in terms of everything. You can’t just post a picture of your nice breakfast to Instagram. It has to look like this.

Even when I’ve been served up the most amazing breakfasts in bed, like on my cruise last year, it never looked like this. Because my bed has never looked like that after I’ve spent a night in it. Because I probably already drank the coffee before I even remembered that Instagram existed. Because my life always looks too lived in to be “instagrammable”.

Instagram breakfast

Perfect breakfasts and over-edited photos are one thing, but what about the perfect people? Instagram is supposed to be real, but it feels as though unattainable, model-like perfection (often unbelievably edited to re-shape bodies and remove imperfections*), have taken over – and now I’m just flicking through another glossy magazine selling me something I don’t really want or need, and could probably never have anyway.

(*Read more in xameliax’s post about this.) 

I have never really cared very much about my outfits, especially when I travel – opting for comfy shorts and t-shirts, things I don’t mind sweating all over. But wait! All the other bloggers are wearing beautiful, floaty dresses and fashionable, put-together outfits. Shit – should I be doing that too?

Comparison is the thief of joy. Were truer words ever spoken? It feels to me that the more I see perfection on Instagram, the more I see my own flaws glaring back at me by comparison. And I can’t be the only one feeling this way.

Suddenly I’m trying to do it all too, scrabbling to keep up. Except, it’s pretend. Maybe for those other bloggers it’s all real, probably they’re good at picking pretty outfits and putting on makeup and not sweating. Those have never been my strengths – and I never used to care!

 Apparently I only own one dress nice enough to make it onto Instagram!

But now here I am, caring massively, worrying that I’m too fat and too shiny and not pretty enough for Instagram. As a blogger, your worth is measured in things like likes. And it’s pretty hard not to let that leak its cruel way across to how you measure your own worth as a person, too. I don’t think this is restricted to bloggers and Instagrammers, either. Analysts have found all kinds of evidence showing how much we as a society measure our self worth against social media engagement. This can’t be good for us!

So this is my confession. I hate Instagram a little bit. Or at least, I hate the pressure I put on myself because of things like Instagram. I hate the way it makes me overly, unnecessarily worried about what I look like, and has, at times, made me try very hard to be something I’m not.

Does anyone else feel this way, or am I the only one? I want to finish off with all the answers, but I don’t really have them. I think for me, I’m just going to start giving less fucks. I don’t like trying to look immaculate, I can’t really be arsed with stylish clothes, and if makeup takes longer than sixty seconds to put on, I’m not interested. That’s just who I am – and the whole point of being a blogger is to be who you are, right? If people like me, great. If they don’t, well, I’ll have to figure out a way to care less about that.

The recent Instagram algorithm change is a bit of a blessing in disguise, for me, because now that all my photos are flopping I can pretty much post what I want. Which is what I’m going to do from now on. Fuck the grid. And fuck perfect. I just want to show off the beautiful world in all its messy, lived-in glory. Wish me luck!

Instagram is Ruining my Life

119 thoughts on “Instagram Is Ruining my Life”

  1. THIS IS AMAZING! God I agree. I feel the same and it’s painful, frustrating and I don’t see how it’ll change or get better. Maybe just worse and less obtainable by the day. I definitely feel the pressures you’ve talked about and I wish I didn’t care as much, but it’s so hard not to when it’s your life and your work. Anyway, I love what you’ve said and will happily be your shiny, unstylish insta pal if you want one :)

    1. Thank you Chloe!! I knew you’d relate. It’s been stressing me out so much lately that it’s making me feel anxious. Had to decide not to care, and not to post for a while. And then I’ll come back and make it all fun again and stop caring about it all. NO MORE FLOATY DRESSES. I just want to wear the same black H&M dress I always wear every day and sink wash it every night!!!

    2. Hello I have to tell you what happened to me in regards to instagram. I was a creator after creator week my account was messed up with ads and promotion. I left instagram. Thanh.

  2. Well said! I personally love a good grid and will rather follow someone who shows a look I can relate to and like but yeah I hear you… what is up with the engagement?? Is it all the automated prgrams being shut down that there is no goddamn engagement anymore? I hate it too which is a bit sad because I just got a new camera with wifi and kind of loved the ease to post now…

    1. They’ve changed the way it actually shows you photos. Not sure how it works now but when I scroll through my newsfeed it’s all stuff from the same 10-20 people, usually stuff I don’t want to see. I’ve turned on notifications for the accounts I really love because otherwise I’d never see them.

      1. Hey Em, you’re not the only one. As an aspiring artist, I wish promoting my work doesn’t depend so much on click baits and constantly-changing social media algorithms. In the meantime, thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings so eloquently. We shall thrive through this phase of our lives ?

        1. Thank you so much Maria! It’s an older post now but never feels any less relevant. I’ve tried to make my Instagram more fun and just share pics I like, but it’s so easy to get bummed out sometimes!

  3. Ah! This is so interesting. I’m a relatively new blogger and have been rubbish at promoting myself and gathering followers (oops!). I’ve been using Instagram for about 2 years and it’s still my favourite social media site. But I’ve focused more on posting things I love rather than worrying about likes and silly follow/unfollow games, so the love hasn’t been lost for me. That said, I want to increase my followers, but do it organically. Like you, I’ve noticed a drop in the number of likes I’ve had too. So I’m going to ponder on this a while longer and may, like you, just stick to doing what I love! (And for what it’s worth, I much prefer the realness of your pictures – I can relate to them so much more :) )

    1. Thank you so much Jo. You should definitely stick to doing it the way you love it. I’ve been stressing so much and trying to be something I’m not… but that’s not the point of Instagram is it? Or of blogging. I’m going to go back to doing what I do best – being me. And just sharing posts I love because I love them.

  4. That’s why I barely use instagram – I hate what it stands for these days. You do you and hopefully the joy will come back, otherwise don’t bother with it all. I don’t think you need to be on Instagram to be successful as a blogger

    1. Thanks Katie. That’s what I’m going to try to do – be me again. I’ve always kept it real on this blog and it’s always served me well. I don’t know why I let that slip on Instagram. But it’s such a visual media it’s hard not to be comparative I guess!!

    2. I think it ultimately depends on what you are looking for and how the world affects you… There are a lot of accounts laughing at instagram’s and some istagrammers search of perfection and lack of downtoerthness (like @youdidnotsleepthere).
      I myself (@texturephilias) am part of a community that celebrates the beauty in ordinary things, little details, paint decay, colours, rust… Anything!! And I love instagram, couse since I open that account, I’ve been able to see the world from a different perspective and find art in the most unexpected places!! (Check #rustlord_unity #tv_hiddenbeauty or #jj_texture)
      But I’m not a person who appreciates perfection (even though I’m a designer and work in the fashion industry)… I have embrace my extra pounds, I don’t die my gray hairs… It hasn’t always been the case, but the older I get (I’m 35). The more I appreciate real-every day-little things.

  5. The breakfast argument is brilliant! I would agree that slowly Instagram is turning into another glossy magazine, where in order to be successful you need to look a certain way, only eat at instagrammable places whether they’re good/local/affordable etc or not, and the destinations you go to are controlled by whether they are picturesque enough. Whatever that means… I’ve caught myself so many times not posting a photo that I really like just because I feel like it wouldn’t get enough likes. I’m so glad though to see more and more bloggers totally own it and just do their own thing regardless of the pressure of certain beauty standards! I think stories can be a big game changer in that sense – because there it’s definitely not enough to look like a model and stand in front of a sunset… Thanks for your inspiring words!

    1. Definitely. And I LOVE stories – I actually enjoy posting those and don’t feel any pressure. Because I know that it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect, and because I think people want to see behind the scenes and see what’s real.

  6. Great post. I feel you. I never post selfies on my ig because they don’t fit. Or I rarely post food unless the colors fit etc. But I’ve always kept it that way since I had Instagram (2013 circa) and when all these “rules” didn’t exist.
    At the end of the day, we are (I am too) bloggers and our priority should be our blog. So if you feel you need to care less about Instagram, do it!

    1. 100%!!! I think I get so caught up stressing about social media that I neglect my blog – and writing is the thing I actually enjoy most (and am best at, I think). Need to get back to that a bit more. When I’m doing work trips and events and things, Instagram is usually a big part of that, so it kind of feels like I have to be completely professional and perfect on Insta. But for me the whole point of blogging is that it’s real people – so I want to be more real, on Insta too.

  7. Wow, I was actually just thinking about this– a lot lately! Instagram has become instaglam, and it’s a bit deceiving. I’ve grown tired of looking at perfect girls, in perfect locations, perfectly photoshopped. These days I’m constantly wondering what this instagrammer is getting paid for, where on Earth do these people have time to set up a photo like this whilst traveling, and how is it humanly possible to fit in those perfect outfits while also enjoying all this food you keep uploading photos of?! It’s no longer raw or real.

    Thanks for your honesty, I still love your instagram even if you don’t!


    1. Instaglam – that’s a great way to put it. It’s all the perfect girls, if I’m honest, that’s what really makes me feel inadequate. All the perfect painted nails and the perfect young faces and the wavy hair. I’m NOT that perfect (because it would take me hours to look like that and I cannot be arsed). If I’m not perfect IRL why should I try to look perfect on Insta?!

      As for setting up the photo, yeah, that’s the bit that really bothers me. I’m a travel blogger because I love travel. Not because I love spending 2/3 hours setting up a perfect shot and editing one photo. Which is genuinely how long it can take. If I don’t actually travel and experience the world, I can’t write about it on my blog. Instagram has to go back to being what it always was for me, a fun and pretty secondary outlet to give insights into my travels while I’m on the road – before the blog content goes live.

      Thanks Lexie :)

      1. Yes to this – WHO has time to set up a photoshoot that takes hours when you’re exploring a new country/place!? I just don’t get it. And I’ve heard stories of a lot of bloggers taking changes of clothes with them to each location and changing in public! I literally couldn’t do that, I’m nowhere near confident enough haha.

        However, I’m loving how wavy hair is back in style – my hair is naturally wavy and 90% of the time I just leave it to dry naturally with zero products or anything, and it goes wavy. I just blow dry it maybe 1-2 times a month to straighten it out when I go for a fancy dinner or night out. I think that’s the only part of instagram I like, purely because it’s the only thing I can do with zero effort haha. #foreverlazy

        C x

    2. Everything Lexie said! Also, I started noticing that everyone is crazy posting all the food they eat while out and I started getting in the habit (at least on stories) of doing it too! Then I stopped and said –no I’m going to also keep it real and story meals I’m eating a home to balance it out. No one can really eat out all the time-it’s not practical.

    3. Hate instagram they messed up my account. I call them instacrap yes you can use it and I say they are haemorrhoids of the internet & society. Thanh

  8. Yes to all of this. I got so bored of having to work at getting like a few months back so I abandoned my sort of grid and started posting things I liked. Although I recently tried to take part in #freeupmyinsta and that stressed me out so much – trying to find an image that fitted a theme which was ironically meant to help me post more freely. Horrible.
    I’ve only just found your blog/insta etc through this post, but I love it.

    1. Thanks so much!! I love that a project meant to make you feel more free actually stressed you out, that’s the Instagram game all over! Going back to posting things I like and forgetting about the likes for a while. Although first I’m taking a bit of a break altogether :)

  9. Fucking hate Instagram… I do enjoy watching people’s stories though. Much more entertaining that some over edited photo of a narcissist looking off into the horizon. HOLDING ONTO THEIR FUCKING HAT. Who the fuck does that IRL?

    1. Ahahahahahaha that’s exactly what I was doing in that pink hat photo. I actually said something along the lines of “how do travel bloggers pose?” when we were taking it! I was “trying to look like a travel blogger”. But I AM A TRAVEL BLOGGER so I must be what one looks like.

      Next time I see you I am going to wear a big floppy hat and spend all night holding it!!!

  10. Lisa (Travel Loving Family)

    Completely agree Emily! I’m pretty new to Instagram, I’ve only had an account for a year but even in that short time I’ve noticed I’ve gone from posting when I like and what I like to worrying that if I don’t post at a time when the most people are online my posts will not get seen. It definitely sucks the joy out of it.

    1. So many things suck the joy out of it. I get that it pays to approach it like a business, but you can go too far I think. It still needs to be fun and feel like “you”, because that’s why your followers follow you, no? Thanks for reading Lisa :)

  11. TBH I’m getting bored of seeing yet another pretty travel blogger from behind in some pastel-looking scene, wearing a long flowing dress while looking out into the distance (while holding on to their hat – good spot VickyFlipFlop) :) But if that’s what the people out there like to see/follow then that’s the way it is I guess :)

    1. The hats!! From now on I’m only posing in a hat on my Instagram!!

      I think there’s a market for these pretty Insta-model girls, but I’m not one of them and I never could be, so I need to stop comparing myself to that and just get on with being me instead!! I also don’t enjoy following those accounts, I prefer landscapes and photos of actual places!

  12. thelifeofasolivagant

    Ah I totally agree. I have a style to my photography, just cause I like it but have never given a shit about ‘the grid’. Too much time and effort, and not true to who I am. I try my hardest to leave comparisons out of it all cause it will get me nowhere. I am normally a dress wearer… like wear them everywhere. All kinds of dresses… but in saying that, I don’t wear make up or care about my messy hair.. so yeah I might have a dress on in my pics cause thats how I roll anyways, but really I am a mess. The only reason I wear dresses is its less to think about when getting ready, no need to pick matching shit.. one item and go haha.

    1. Hahaha I do love a good dress for that exact reason. Especially a nice casual t-shirt dress (got the exact same one in 4 colours from H&M and wear it all the time). But I don’t ever really look super dressed up when I travel, esp not when I’m sightseeing or hiking or something. And I don’t want to!! I don’t want to keep stressing that I don’t look pretty enough for Instagram, I just want to be able to take pictures of the pretty places I’m in and post those!!

  13. Blergh instagram! I agree, I love it but I hate it! I feel like such a pompous ass every time I post and have to take 50 photos to even try to get the perfect shot… generally I still fail. Then I become beyond obsessed with how many likes and comments I get and generally it just keeps dropping as Instagram makes it harder to be ‘seen’!

    Boycott Instagram? I still love Twitter, bless little Twitter! Always there, faithful as ever!

    1. Yep. Yep. Yep. Refreshing over and over and wondering when it’s going to peak. Worrying that it’ll flop and the client will be like “why did you post this pile of shite?”

      I LOVE Twitter. It’s my favourite. So quick, so easy. People are funnier on it and more true to themselves I think. Good old lovely easy Twitter.

      I’m taking a break from Instagram for a couple of days. Just to get myself back on track. And then I’m going to just post nice photos I like and forget about the likes!

  14. Fantastic post! I agree with ALL of it! I ignore most of the “rules” but I have held back from posting in real time at times I don’t feel I will get the engagement. Go do your thing! I love your feed. Just followed.

    1. Thanks so much Christina!! I’m going to try to just be me from now on. Also going to try unfollowing and avoiding some of the accounts that spam out ads and post too much perfection. Sick of beautiful flat lays of makeup and lattes on marble counter tops. STOP SELLING ME MAKEUP USING MARBLE. Going to concentrate on being myself, posting stuff I like, and enjoying travel a bit more!!

  15. I still love Insta, but only because I ignore all the stuff you’re meant to do! I’m not gaining many visitors from it, but I’d rather that than end up hating it completely…

  16. I think there are so many people out there who feel the same way so thank you for sharing. The more people who do speak out and who go back to sharing what they want rather than what they feel like they should post, the more interesting and varied the app will be. I loved Instagram when I first started using it but now I’m sick of everyone’s content looking exactly the same.

    1. It’s astonished me how many people have said they felt the same. I thought most people would say I was overreacting or being babyish but turns out everyone is like me right now. I’m with you – I feel like so much content looks identical (so many marble countertop backgrounds and “followme” poses). It’s boring. I want originality – and when it comes to travel I just want to see amazing places! Going back to sharing what and when I want to – and doing it for the love :)

  17. And yet you have such wonderful Instagram content.

    This was wildly informing. I have just begun to learn and use Instagram, and have already found it to be an odd place. One minute, you are up ten followers. The next your down ten! People seem to follow to attract follows back, and then bail. I was hoping it would be an interesting place to connect with other people.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences !

    1. It used to be a lovely place to see photos of the world, interact, discover new amazing places, that sort of thing. But too many people are playing the games or treating it like a business and it loses it’s fun side I think. People who follow and unfollow just to get new followers drive me insane. Stop cheating, and just share good content instead – people follow good accounts naturally!! :)

  18. I dallied in the same way with Flickr (a few years ago now). It is a big effort to get people to see and like your photos. In the end I found that most of the connections (not all) were shallow. I moved onto to Blogging where the connections can also be shallow but the blogging platform led me to meet other bloggers and being invited to post on collective blogging platforms and meet up events.

    I have never been tempted to post on Instagram (even though my friends tell me I should post my photos there), the platform reminded me of Flickr. I still post my photos on Flickr but only as a means to link to them from my blog and not use up bandwidth.

    1. Instagram used to be similar to blogging in that it felt like a really good place to share, connect, engage, etc. But lately it’s just gone too far in the way of adverting I think. Hopefully it’ll get some more of it’s authenticity back as a lot of people are feeling the same as me I think!

  19. This is so dead on! And I’m with ya on the grid thing. I’ve seen so many ‘how I edit’ posts where people apply the same filters/presets in Lr too ALL of their photos for this purpose! From an artistic standpoint that annoys the fuck out of me! I believe every photo needs to be handled and created individually, not as a streamline of quilt patchwork for a stupid app. My love for IG fell off a cliff months ago if you can’t tell.

    And even though every other blogger posts a photo of themselves in every photo with the flowing dress and floppy hat, it’s never made me feel I need change my wardrobe to do the same. My personal style is more homeless-chic, because I’m a god damn traveler, not a model. I proudly do not own a single floppy hat.

    1. Hahahaha homeless-chic!!! I’m stealing that phrase. I generally dress like a sort of scruffy teenager, in life and on the road. You’re so right, we’re travellers, not models – and my photos are real, that’s really me travelling, wearing what I was wearing at the time, doing whatever I was doing. I try not to overedit too, just tweak things so that they look how they did to my naked eye at the time. But oversaturated and overfiletered photos always seem to do better which (as someone with a photography degree who knows what a good photo should look like) tends to drive me crazy!!!

  20. Emma @ Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Yep yep yep! You have (far more eloquently) said all the things I’ve complained about for a long time…

  21. Jennifer Ratcliffe @compass_keen

    I feel the same. It used to be my favourite social media, when i first decided to blog I switched accounts and began a new one featuring mainly travel photos which worked for a while but it had already begun to stress me out about which ones… then they changed the hashtag system and people were obsessing over the grids and I found myself doubting all my great photos and instant became rarer. I started featuring myself more in photos despite being behind the lens more because its what people wanted but I’m an up and down weight kind of girl and it makes me totally paranoid! (Not to mention I am a redhead with freckles, you cannot use contrast like a normal person unless you want to appear like a sundamage advert!). Then this new algorythm… I’ve put a load of things in my archive recently because they didn’t fit in my grid. I think the truth is we all have to start using instagram like we used to, be more real. I will wear my dress that is rollable and been at the bottom of my sweaty backpack for the past three months even though i’ve been eating crap and my hair/ skin are tired/ frizzy/ bare because thats what you do on holiday and one of my favourite/ most successful photos is in that baggy mess! I have started to use story alot instead these days because i feel like you can be real again and just post without pressure of likes, you can still engage with people, even talk to them. But honestly what is the point in me not being able to see up to date posts of people I follow instagram? That just needs to go! The only positive is that I allow more photos to be taken of me… and that every now and again i slow down to look at what i eat before it goes! (Sorry mini rant, love this post!)

    1. Thank you so much Jennifer :) I just snorted (with laughter) a little bit at your comment – ” you cannot use contrast like a normal person unless you want to appear like a sundamage advert”. Ha!

      You’re definitely right. I love the stories because they are real and in the moment (usually – some people airbrush and upload haha). I’m going back to posting nice photos I like and trying not to care about it. And yes, if I appear in a photo, I’m probably going to look like a sweaty mess wearing one of the (very wrinkled) 2 dresses I take everywhere, or just shorts and a t-shirt.

      Thanks so much for reading :) X

  22. Christine Maguire (@thetraveloguer)

    Wonderful post, Emily. I have been thinking for a while that Instagram is turning into a bit of a monster!

    Even though it’s so refreshing to read your take on the pressure travel bloggers put on themselves, at the same time it makes me a bit sad to read how the pressure of Instagramming has you, and many others, thinking your body doesn’t belong on there, it’s crazy!

    Instagram was a great way for us to share pictures from our travels and possibly inspire someone to see the world, but now it’s all about the flowing dresses, giant hats and extremely over-edited images and that’s so far from what many of us set out to do with our blogs. We’re travel bloggers, not fashion or lifestyle bloggers, but there is this insane pressure to fall in line in order to get more engagement. I worry what the next algorithm changes will bring! :)

    1. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there. The size and power of some of the big fashion and lifestyle accounts, and the sheer amounts of money thrown at them by sponsors and advertisers, has got us all feeling like we need to make our stuff the same, to keep up. But we’re TRAVEL bloggers. My feed should be travel. And I want that to be real. I would never wear a floaty dress and heels to sightsee – I’d feel like a dick if I did – so I shouldn’t! If a fashion blogger really would wear something like that to sightsee, they can knock themselves out – I want to be comfy and disguise my sweat patches behind my extensive collection of plain black t-shirts!

      I’m hoping we’ll see a resurgence in “real” photos, at least from travel bloggers – because I think lots of people are feeling this way. And it’s nice to show what travelling the world is really like. It’s not easy, it’s not always glamorous – but it IS incredible. I want to reflect that with my photos! X

  23. YES!! Yes to everything you have written. I also realised I wasn’t following you on insta, so I am now, hopefully insta will deign to show me your content in all its unedited glory.
    Also I put my latest photo up and ummed and aaahed a bit because I am not skinny (I don’t care but like you say, instagram perfection pressure) and I am in the shot but then I posted it anyway because screw it.

    1. Aw thank you for following me. I’m not posting this week because I needed to take a break. Got some more lovely photos of Austria to share though so I will start posting again soon. Good for you sharing your latest photo.Screw it indeed. We can only look like us, right, whatever that is – so let’s just embrace it. I’m not a model. Wish I was, but I’m not, and I never will be. But I AM still pretty, in my own way. Everyone is!

  24. This is great! I am sharing this with my instagram groups! I can’t stand how fake some people’s post are and I don’t want to turn into that but I know it’s the pressure of Instagram changes. But it doesn’t feel authentic to me. I just want to post my photos and be happy =]

  25. This post made me go out of my way to find you on instagram. SO there’s that. I starting trying to change my philosophy on instagram earlier this year with the end goal of being giving less fucks. It’s a work in progress and ironically it has made my engagement go up. Go figure.

    And it’s funny, because I actually find “the grid” philosophy to be a bit of a stress reliever because it allows me to focus on the overall look and not freak out if one photo doesn’t get good engagement. But I’m not super strict with it, so it’s okay. haha.

    1. Haha well thank you for that! I think it’s really important to have a better philosophy around all social media. We’re supposed to be ourselves, I think – that’s what people liked about us. So maybe by giving less fucks and being authentic, you’re actually coming across more genuine to your followers :) Good news for us all I think!

  26. Amen Sister! I used to be an avid instagrammer, but as soon as I started using it to promote my blog and worrying about aesthetics and logarithms etc. I have totally lost interest in photography in general! Trying to go back to basics and snapping and sharing what I love, instead of what might impress my audience as much.
    Thanks for saying what we were all thinking!!

  27. i dont think im following you on insta. honestly, it’s too many balls to keep up in the air if you’ll forgive the juggling metaphor. and i cant work out an easy way to link from blog to insta and reverse which im sure is actually quite easy. i need to google that.

    1. I don’t find it gets me much blog traffic – the two are pretty separate. It was always just a nice way to share photos and engage, for me, but now it feels like this whole… machine. Way too technical and ad-filled, not fun an authentic!

  28. I am lucky as i dont use Instagram for work as lets face it travel insurance really isn’t going to be sexy anywhere never mind Instagram – lots of photos of people in corduroy trousers – i do use it personally and still enjoy as it really doesn’t matter if i get a like or whatever and its perfect for posting up stupid photos of me and my girls – T

    1. Haha you never know, people might love to see a bunch of people in cords answering phones and insuring stuff!! I think the key is to treat Instagram like a fun, personal account even when you’re using it to promote yourself as a blogger. A lot gets said about bloggers being “brands” and needing to stay on brand or promote the brand etc – it’s easy to forget that the “brand” is me, and I’m a real person. I can’t be an Insta model or a sweat-free goddess in a floaty dress (believe me, I wish I could)! So I need to keep it real and just be myself :)

  29. I was really pleased when I saw your post on Pinterest; as I’ve been looking for someone who shares similar views to myself when it comes to Instagram/social media. I have deleted it because of that purpose, because it gives me an unrealistic expectation which leads to me putting myself down. It’s a shame as I get to miss out on great posts like yours.. keep it up ??

    1. Wow, deleting it is a big step! I almost wish I could but I feel like I need it for work because it’s something most brands I work with ask for. And I do love it, or I used to. Hoping I can find that passion and enjoyment for it again :)

  30. I agree. I hate that people ‘plan their instagram’ and it is not a represantation of that day anymore…it is all about getting amazing shots and more and more likes….

    1. Same! I don’t mind throwbacks and I know that it’s really hard to post in the moment – especially if you’re like me and want to actually enjoy the moment while you’re in it ;) But I hate feeling like I have to plan everything, and I hate that I’ve genuinely spent over an hour before deciding between two photos because I’m so scared that they’re not going to do well. Going back to caring less, because I need to!

  31. I totally feel this! I always wanted to be a person who was good at instagram, but I just get so overwhelmed. Not only do the pictures have to be perfect, they have to fit in with all the other things you have posted too! I do love the idea of instagram as a whole but it is hard to get past the pressure to be perfect.

    Love this post!

    1. Thanks so much! It is so hard to escape the pressure. I’ve genuinely stressed myself for hours over what photo to use next. But it’s killing me – and I just don’t think it needs to. I don’t think most of my followers would even notice if I broke the grid! I’m just going to try to make it fun again, and ignore the #ads, and just be as authentic as possible :)

  32. So refreshing to read this! I often take pics to put up, that never actually make it up on Instagram. Now it’s mostly filled with pictures of my dog (probably much to the boredom of others!)

  33. Agree with pretty much everything you said Emily! Although for me you can throw in age – at 39 (and a half, not that I’m counting that dreaded approach to 40!) I feel ancient compared to these young pretty 20 somethings that have no concept of bingo wings or wrinkles lol!

    I’m getting better at just accepting the way I am though, and giving less of a shit about what people might think or what’s the best insta pose – like you said, just gonna keep it real and show people how I travel! (although, I do wear a bikini by the pool but that’s not something I plan to share! ha ha)

    1. Haha nope, I think all of Instagram will suffer if I put a bikini photo up. I can’t even bring myself to wear a bikini anymore, it’s all about the one-piece ;)

      I want to get better at accepting the way I am. Sometimes I’m completely fine, but when you’re confronted with your own demons everyday posting pictures of yourself or appearing on Insta stories, it’s so hard not to fixate on them! Still, getting better, mostly because I just can’t be arsed to care any more!!!

    1. Hahaha thank you!! It’s true – I’m wearing the same dress in most Insta photos. I just don’t take many nice dresses away with me, especially not if I’m backpacking. But most clothes I have with me when I travel are not particularly Instagrammable – because I just don’t think/pack/behave that way :D

  34. Wow… With all the comments about InstaLifeDeterioration because some geeky programmer at InstaGoneFollowers decided to fix something that was working well. Sure is silly where a photo flops on InstaCan’tBeSeenByAnyone and yet flies on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Tumblr. Guess I’ll let my 12,000…11,900…11,800… 11,700… (Whatever) followers die a slow death in InstaFollowerLossWithoutCauseGram and move my concentration over to Facebook where the numbers are climbing and interaction actually takes place. Thank you InstaFailingGram for helping me improve my Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Tumblr accounts while you InstaMessage my photos and followers into InstaNothingness. Moving on…

    1. Guessing you’re just as frustrated as me, then?!! It’s such a shame because there used to be so many things I loved about Instagram but now it just feels like a waste of time. If anything I was actually feeling afraid before posting something – and that’s not how I want to be feeling!! I’m giving up on it / giving it a backseat – until things change and the engagement seems more worth it.

  35. This is such a great, honest piece. As a blogger, i feel like I should have more interest in Instagram, but my skill is with words so I’d rather be judged on those rather than any out of focus, falsely posed pictures. I don’t live a perfectly matched life, in shades of the same colour, wearing floaty dresses and floppy hats, do why should my Instagram suggest I do?

    1. It shouldn’t! Our Instagrams should reflect who we really are, what the world is really like, and how travel really feels. All the polished accounts that look straight out of a catalogue are almost like lies – travel is rarely so polished and perfect. Definitely focus on your strengths, and if that’s writing, prioritise that!

  36. My blog is still really small and I’m starting to think about ways to increase my followers, particularly on Instagram, but it seems impossible to increase the numbers at a decent rate! Your comment about travel blogger clothes really resonates with me; over the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself browsing all the online shopping sites to find ‘blogger-style’ floaty dresses but it turns out that they’re not really selling them right now in the shops. Your post has reminded me that I don’t need to buy new clothes just for Instagram as I’d honestly rather trek around in somewhat less flattering trousers and t-shirts so I can actually enjoy my travel experiences without fretting about something as superficial as my appearance all the time! Thanks for sharing your experience with Instagram and reminding everyone there’s a lot more to life than the perfect selfie!

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting :) You absolutely should NOT buy clothes you wouldn’t normally wear just for Instagram. I’ve done it too and it’s horrible that a social app can make us put that much pressure on ourselves! I want to just wear my normal scruffy-chic, comfy clothes and be myself – who cares if it’s not the accepted “travel blogger style”? I don’t want to sweat around cities in a long ball gown! I want to travel and experience the world – so that’s what I’m going to attempt to do :)

  37. I dont have IG account but i can feel your pain, and I did not even pack any outfits for my SA trip, because seriously who does give a damn when we constantly on the move? If my pictures on my blog looks not perfect than so be it and haters gonna hate anyway.

    I also read IG has change algorithms and that drove many nuts, but my landlord is a photographer and he just dont care about all the likes and pods, and his IG has gotten 350 followers just in a few days.

    I say this is because I think I want to bring back the travel blogging and social media back to the old days, because seriously, this industry does not lack comparison and perfection, this industry lacks originality and authenticity.

    1. Thanks for commenting Julie. You’re absolutely right – we’re lacking originality and authenticity on social media, especially in the world of travel blogging. I hate that and I think it would be nice if we all worked to change it a little bit. I find it really hard not to feel like I have to try to be like everyone else, or to feel inadequate compared to the bloggers who “look” more successful. But it’s all an illusion, because social media is never the full picture. So giving up on comparison and perfection from now on I think!

  38. I like social media but I’ve just taken the longest break from Instagram posts for almost the whole July, I am comparatively active on Instagram stories as it’s easy and doesn’t need much effort in my opinion. I plan to be back on Instagram though as I like to share things I enjoy and it helps my friends and family overseas to see my daily lives.

    I think social media like Instagram is a good tool for many people. Yes it does give an illusion that we have to be Instagram perfect 24/7 and that’s unfortunate for those whose career is quantify on number of likes and followers of a channel. However, just like what you said, just fuck the grid and be real, then the joy will return!

    1. Thanks for commenting Cyndi :) I definitely prefer Insta stories over the main Instagram these days, it’s far easier to be real on there and because the other accounts aren’t forced into my face as soon as I log on, it makes it easier not to compare.

      Instagram is such a great tool and it can be really fun. But I feel like it’s overrun by adverts and people trying to look like everything is perfect. It’s really easy to get caught up and believe everything is perfect for everyone else – which makes me feel like I’m a squillion miles away from perfect. I think it’s important to remember how little social media actually resembles reality – because people only use it to show the best side of everything. Now that I’ve started to remember that and ignore what everyone else is doing, it makes me feel much better!

  39. This is so true. Do you remember when fashion/beauty bloggers were just fashion/beauty bloggers and not trying to be travel bloggers too? Travel bloggers were always those people who didn’t care much for fashion or style but just wanted to explore those beautiful locations and that was enough for an Instagram photo. These days if it hasn’t got a person doing some un-natural pose in pretty clothes it doesn’t seem to be enough. So yes, I couldn’t agree more.

    1. Oh I know!! I feel like it smacks of bitterness but I do miss the days before the fashion bloggers started to creep over to travel. It’s just such a different thing. The bloggers I love, and the blogger I try to be, are the ones that are all about authentic experiences and saying what things are really like. Showing the beauty of travel even when it’s rough – the backpacks and the dodgy bus rides and all the rest of it. But it feels like to keep up with the industry we have to make everywhere look perfect and “Instagrammable”. And we have to look perfect and instagrammable ourselves, too! I hate thank :(

      Thanks so much for commenting Jodie!

  40. I don’t currently have an Instagram account but have been thinking about setting one up. Still not sure if it’s worth the hassle or will increase any traffic to our blog so just can’t make up my mind. I do find it so disappointing though that so many travel blogs are so social media driven where it’s patently obvious that likes/hits/followers are their main goal rather than sharing experiences and stories. It’s great to have loads of followers and people liking what you publish but it should be original and authentic I think.

    1. Hi Jonno, thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

      If traffic is your main goal, I personally don’t think it’s worth it. I don’t get much traffic come through from Instagram at all – for me it’s a whole separate audience. I like (or used to like) using it because I love pretty travel photos. It’s slipped recently and that’s a shame, as it’s making it even harder to grow on the platform. Especially with so many people playing “games” like follow/unfollow or even buying followers/likes/comments etc. Honestly unless you have a passion for taking and editing photos it’s not really worth joining I don’t think! If you do, then join away but my advice is to keep it just for fun at first – and don’t expect any new blog traffic from it!

      Thanks so much for reading :)


      1. Hey Emily, I think it’s just going to be a ‘for fun’ instagram account so hopefully stress-free. Not expecting any traffic from it so if any does occur it’ll be a bonus. Not into playing that following/not-following game either, complete waste of effort in my opinion.

        1. Same here – I want genuine followers, not people who only followed me to get a follow back! Proud to say that other than when I Was just starting out and didn’t know any better, my followers are completely organically grown :)

          1. That’s so good to hear. I’m so tired of blogs/twitter/instagram that are obviously so unnatural and almost fake. Just want to read about real people with real stories.

  41. Totally feel you on this one. It’s got to the point where everything on Instagram looks the same. Beautiful people posting pictures of their beautiful lives. If I see another aerial shot of food or someone sitting in a window looking out at the Eiffel Tower in a dressing gown, I could scream! Please can it just be normal and not perfect. Go on a press trip with bloggers now and it’s all posing for ages trying to get the perfect shot. Makes me want to pack social media in altogether.

    1. I know, it drives me crazy but I don’t know how to beat it! When I post more “normal” pics I get less likes. Definitely going to try to avoid the cliches from now on at least and be myself more. And try to care less about what people think!!! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment :)

  42. I can totally relate to this. I used to love Instagram but now it’s just a massive bind. I feel like I’m a hamster running around a gramming wheel that’s getting just getting bigger and bigger while I’m getting smaller and smaller…

    1. Same here :( My photos get less likes every single time I post. Starting to worry it’s me. I know I’m not the world’s greatest photographer or anything, but I’m really feeling the pinch now! It’s horrible!

  43. I feel your pain when you talk about the anxiety of measuring up to what other people think! But I have found that most people don’t care about your “tummy” or your hair or your clothes as much as you think they do! Everyone has their own anxieties that they are focusing on! And if you are living for likes on Instagram you are living too small!! I highly recommend a month’s vacation from social media. Try to remember what it’s like to live life without anyone else watching!

    1. You’re absolutely right of course – I shouldn’t care but it’s so hard not to. And unfortunately since social media is about 70% of my job I can’t take a month off. I can get away with a few days but more than that could have a negative effect. It’s a struggle to balance keeping up a fairly consistent online existence for career purposes, and remembering to actually live my life as well! But I’m improving, and I’m really trying hard to care less about Instagram – especially about what I look like etc.

    1. Yep. Being pretty in swimwear or flouncing about in long dresses certainly seems to be the way to gain a big following on Instagram these days. Not really my skill set unfortunately! I’m going for “keeping it real” as much as I can and even though I get less likes than I used to, at least I can feel like I’m being true to myself :)

  44. Fuck the grid man! Haha. This makes me glad I’m a teeny tiny nobody blogger and that I can Instgram what the fook I like. I for one can’t stand the fake flashy perfect Instagrams though. There are almost no interesting travel accounts now because they’re so overly curated and photoshopped. Yes, wow, perfect sunset picture of the pyramids or whatever, but I could see a picture-perfect photo on Wikipedia or something. It’s not interesting. Keep on being ‘imperfect’ whatever that means, at least it’s worth looking at.

    1. Thank you Alexa :) I try really hard to be real and not overly edit my photos (other than to bring back the colours and details that were actually there in real life). But it’s so disheartening to see those faked, airbrushed accounts doing so much better – makes me think no one wants to see real anymore. I also follow some amazing photographers who have real talent but get way less followers and likes than over-saturated photos of airbrushed insta models in flowy dresses. It’s a toughy but I’m trying really hard to care less and keep things real!

  45. I used to get really worked up by how many people follow then unfollow both on Instagram and Twitter but fuck em – I post for myself because I like the photos. Same with earning money with my blog – I don’t want that to take over my life like it has some bloggers I know. I don’t want to lose the excitement I get when I publish a blog post or an Instagram post.

    1. My thoughts exactly – fuck em! I try not to look at my followers on Instagram these days, although I still care about my likes. I can’t help it – I’m so personally invested into that account! But I try not to let any of it take over my love for travel, writing, and photography :)

  46. A lovely post & I can very much relate!

    People that don’t use it for blogging & business don’t get it, they do not understand when you use social media as part of making a living to pay your bills.
    I honestly feel a lot of the influencers are too ‘samey’ And all are posting similar ‘themes’ & images so I love to find someone that posts something a bit different and a bit more what I see as real!

    I think you pics are fantastic & im off to follow you on insta now ?


    1. Thanks so much Lynsey!! You’re absolutely right – I feel like way too many accounts are all looking identical these days and I find it so boring.

      Since writing this post, I’ve done a bit of a “cull” and I’m trying to follow only the accounts of people I’m friends with, or ones that share amazing and interesting travel photos. No endless model shots where the destination is nothing more than a backdrop! I’m also trying to stress less about “the grid” and what I post on Insta in general (easier said than done) and to close the app after I post and not look back again for at least 12 hours – to avoid the obsessive refreshing trying to see how my pic has performed. Again, easier said than done – but I find the less time I spend on Instagram, the happier I am!

  47. Hey Emily, reading this as I feel like I’ve arrived at this exact same place. I really want to embark on a new project but find myself paralysed because the pressure for everything to be perfect is too much. Thankyou for being so authentic xx

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Jess! I find the pressure to be perfect on Instagram so stressful sometimes that I make myself sick. Especially when there’s a client involved. Trying to learn to switch off from it as much as possible, and to care less, but I know how hard that is!! Good luck with your new project – and don’t let any fears hold you back! Just do YOU :) xx

  48. Hi. Found you after googling ‘Instagram is ruining my career’! It’s not just you.
    I’m not a blogger, have been in traditional print media for yonks, writing recipes and food features, a career in the subject I love most. I have written books, and used to feel good that I was doing ok, on the whole, with regular high profile clients etc. But Instagram makes me feel small, and is starting to make me feel so negative. Many of my most creative or happy or just ‘thank god I got dinner in the table and it’s nice’ moments feel like they don’t exist, because they don’t make it online, as they would be photographed in a real and rather rushed situ, with yellow electric light. And then something joyful turns into something that feels like a wasted opportunity. That sounds mad. Social media makes us mad. And I haven’t even heard of The Grid! ?I think your blog sounds wonderful, just followed. Carry on being you, being real. Me, I’m going to investigate other avenues, guesting on a podcast maybe, doing a newsletter, even investing more in Facebook as one other reply mentioned. Happy travels. Jane

    1. Hi Jane!! Thank you so much for commenting – and for reassuring me that it’s not just me!! Social media really does make us mad. Even now, two years after writing this post, I still catch myself doing certain things “just” to get a specific photo while I’m travelling. Not to the extreme that some people do it, thankfully, but I still go out hunting for the perfect gram shot. And I find myself feeling down if I don’t manage to get one.

      But what really helps is stepping away from Instragram. I don’t use it every day, and try to only use it on press trips. and I much prefer stories because then I can just be real and show exactly what I’m up to. So my advice is to ignore Instagram and not let it get you down. Use it when you get a really good shot you want to share, and do things for yourself the rest of the time. Whether that means making an awesome dinner without needing to take a photo of it, or watching sunset with your eyes instead of through a camera lens! It works for me (when I remember to do it!) and I think that’s what we all need. Social media should take a backseat to real life experiences!!

  49. It’s disturbing how Instagram effects our life negatively. I admire the new initiate of Topiks app to correct that in an unbiased way

  50. Hi Emily — I’m late to this party, but I was glad to read this post. I’m brand-new on Instagram in 2022, and only because I started a business. And I cannot even figure out why *anyone* actually wants to be on it, if they don’t have to. It’s so cold and commericial and phony and fussy. I’m trying so hard to enjoy something about it, but I can’t even stand sitting and scrolling on it, it’s so completely dull. No individuality, no meaning, no depth, no humor, just nothing. Thank you for letting me know that at least I’m not the only one. Wishing you the best with your blog and other work!

    1. Thanks so much for commenting Jane. I feel like I enjoy Instagram more these days, but it’s still very much a love/hate relationship. I unfollowed or muted all the accounts that I didn’t actually enjoy following and tried to fill my feed instead with accounts that just posted fun stuff or pretty travel photos. I’ve also started only posting to it when I travel, and then posting what I actually like and enjoy more than what I think will work well. Plus I’ve found Reels to be a lot more fun than photos, feels like I can play around and be creative. But my main trick is to post, and then immediately close Instagram and not check back for a few hours. I used to get so worked up about getting likes and keep refreshing after posting to see if the likes had gone up – but that’s such an unhealthy relationship to an app. Now I try to just post, then leave and get on with my life!

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