Liking Yourself, Even If Nobody's Liking Your Instagram Posts

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Betcha didn’t think I’d be willing to admit that I’ve lost over ten thousand Instagram followers in the past 6 months, didya?

Every week or two, instead of steadily growing, my instagram follower number drops another digit. To prove my transparency here, I’m at 83.5K today and the count will be lower once I publish this dang post. That’s right– tens of thousands of real actual humans are taking the time to press the“unfollow” button on my instagram page. Cue dramatic instrumental music and backlit shots of me in black and white. This is now a Doctor Phil special, or maybe an anti-smoking campaign.

Why does talking about my online engagement dropping feel like I just admitted to having a terminal illness? Hello?? I’m talking about an app here. Instagram isn’t real. In fact, here is a list of 5 real life things that suck more than losing 10,000 instagram followers:

  • Planning a funeral for my cat
  • Invoices that take 2 weeks to process
  •  I have to go to the doctor to get a blood test and I really don’t want to
  • Mosquitos
  •  I ran out of nail polish remover and my pedicure looks wack as fuck 

Just like in It’s A Wonderful Life– every time someone complains about the algorithm, instagram makes it worse. It’s true! Remember when you could have a 200 follower count, and every single one of them would loyally double tap all 4 low-res photos of your cat that you hastily slapped the Valencia filter on? These are the things I would tell my grandchildren around the fireplace, if I were planning on having any. 

Even if you didn’t recently lose 10k sets of eyes, you know damn well your engagement is in the algorithm toilet right now, and you should probably just come clean about it before the net neutrality repeal goes further into effect, and we have to rent our followers from Russian smugglers. 

I guess I shouldn’t be so crass. For people like me, online engagement can often directly translate to dollars in our pockets. Getting more people to subscribe to my instagram publishings means I have more potential customers on my web shop and more opportunity for collaborations. Hell, if I had Kylie Jenner’s following, I’d be a billionaire too– with or without a family of gigantic butts and bad decisions. Speaking of gigantic butt’s I’ve got a big one for you right here: Money existed before the internet.

Once upon a time, taking a selfie was not written into the money-making manual.  Galleries, publications, and performance spaces predate viral posts, and are all alive, well, and probably wishing you’d put down your phone and pay them a visit. Turns out, you actually don’t need an instagram account make a decent living as a creative, and with the big brand competition that the platform has enthusiastically embraced, maybe it's time we all took a step back into the real world when it comes to getting our work out there.

But then the sadness sets in. Surely if millions of app users are not taking the time to like your instagram posts, it could only mean one thing, and that’s that YOU are a bad person. Awful. Not only that, but your art sucks butt. And your selfies are dumb because your dumb face is ruining everything. Everybody talked, and they have all agreed that you are a bad person with a totally dumb face, and now they’re all going to ignore everything you do for the rest of your dumb-faced art-sucking life and you know what? THAT’S GREAT. Because if there’s one thing you don’t need, it’s people who treat you like that.

If a tree falls in the woods, does it still make a sound if no one is around to hear it? If you post your art on instagram, do you still like it if nobody else does?

I want you to answer that question right now. Does you liking yourself depend on how many people like you online? Newsflash: YOUR opinion is the only one that matters here. If you do cool shit and live your best life and no-one looks at your pictures of it, you're still winning in my book.  I can’t attach a number to having a great time, feeling awesome about myself, or making art that I’m stoked on. Instead of feeling bummed that I can't get thousands of likes on a picture of my big dumb face, I feel thankful for each and every one of the fine folks that DID take the time to engage with it.

Who are you living for? Who are you creating for? If virtual kudos from thousands of anon accounts is what it takes to keep you going, you should probably delete yourself now and move away to a no-wifi zone until you remember what being alive is about. Don’t waste time trying to find the perfect recipe for the most popular online content. Instead, post what matters to you and make sure you’re always having more fun IRL that you look like you’re having online. 

It's time to ditch the tired “Dance Like No One’s Watching” quote repost, and apply this notion to your life right now. Because even if no-one IS watching, you should never ever stop dancing.

Stella Rose Saint Clair