Breaking The Matrix: Why I've Stopped Trying To Beat The Algorithm

14.8.19


Sat, phone in hand, fixating over the number of likes my latest Instagram post had received, and the last hour of my day spent comparing myself to someone else's Explore Page bikini pic, I had a sudden realisation that this whole thing was taking over my life. There wasn't a moment anymore where I didn't feel deflated by the low number of engagement staring back at me from my phone screen, and it dawned on me that I had began reducing myself to a number.

For me, Instagram had always been my creative outlet - never something I dreamed of making money from or having an audience on - it was simply my place to share the things I had created and loved. I was in the early stages of recovering from my eating disorders when I started blogging, and I had found solace in this little app where I could indulge myself in all things fashion and beauty, and even find people, like me, who were in recovery.

Days were made easier by the prospect of being able to wake up and have something to look forward to sharing and as years passed by Instagram became my little online space (along with my blog, of course). It became my daily life - curating, creating and sharing - there was nothing that made me feel more excited than hitting that 'post' button and seeing people's reactions to the things I'd worked hard on. I loved that time of my life - everything about Instagram felt light hearted and in favour of creativity, but at some point in 2018 things began to change, the numbers game began, and I was left feeling completely irrelevant.




That's the thing about social media, you grow to expect certain things out of it, especially as an 'influencer'. You build a following, receive a certain kind of number on your posts and anticipate that that's your regular gig, you know? Except, it's not like that anymore, nothing adds up, the numbers are all jumbled, and yet they're all that seem to have began to matter to us.

After 5 years of blogging, I think it only makes sense for me (and anyone else in the same boat, for that matter) to expect a steady growth in audience, yet the algorithm has brought a holt to that for so many people, beginning to dampen our creativity and breed comparison.

I reached a point where the amount of likes my post would get would impact my mood for the rest of the day (sad right? I know) and I was left scrolling down my feed and pining "Why can't I be her?!", "Why isn't my post being seen?!". That's no way to spend your days, is it? Do I really want something that once brought me so much joy to become the one thing that diminishes all of my confidence?

The answer is, no.

I don't want that to be the way things are.

I miss the days of posting a photo, leaving it behind and then coming back to see lovely comments from fellow creatives or simple supportive messages from my Mum - numbers playing no part in how I felt my work was being received.

I know we can't rewind time, (back to when the Instagram logo was brown or when we purely just posted photos with the 'Ludwig' filter on), but I feel like I can at least try and rewind my mindset.



TROUSERS - THRIFTED // BOOTS - EGO // BAG - SKINNY DIP [GIFT]

So, I decided to clear my mind of numbers, resting assured that my love for creativity still remained, and remembered why I started this whole malarkey in the first place... and that was for my undeniable urge to share what I enjoyed making.

I think that we've all forgotten, in the abyss or Instagram followers, views and likes, that there's a real world out there - a world which is filled with beautiful moments, bright ideas and millions of opportunities (none of which have a like button or a viewer count). AndSo what if your most recent post just got 100 likes less than usual? Don't let that stop you going out there, curating new projects, writing new stories and experiencing things. Post things because you love that you made them, not because you're miserably awaiting what the algorithm is going to throw your way that day.

We need to stop changing the way we create in order to please a following or increase our popularity. We're all trying to adjust, alter and warp ourselves into something that the 'gram' wants; what happened to making things from passion or for fun? At some point, we're all going to end up with the same ol' Instagrams filled with the same ol' things. Trying to adapt ourselves is only going to move us further away from what we really want. Stay unique, embrace what is yours, and don't let the algorithm get to your head.

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