Monday, December 19
Faith, Fitbit and the Failures of Instagram Algorithms
I have been spending less time online lately... partly because I have been feeling the need to take extra time being present (which means taking way fewer photos) and partly because I have been so frustrated with Instagram lately that it just makes sharing less fun. I am a stay-at-home, homeschool mom... which means that often Instagram is my place to go for doses of adult interaction during the day!
In recent months, I have been trying to follow fewer and fewer people, because with the non-sequential feeds I feel like I miss a lot from my friends who aren't using the app to try to build a following or get massive likes and comments. Yet these are often the people I want to connect with during the day! There are definitely times when I want to be inspired and keep up with my blogging friends and those who curate their feeds and promote them. But I feel like those are often the only accounts I see!
I also want to be able to take my personal account private again. I have struggled with the question of public or private many times over the years. I blog, so clearly I have decided that for me it is worth sharing publicly about certain things. Yet there is still something more organic about instagram that makes me want to keep it more private. Or at least there used to be.
I mentioned that I have been feeling the need to be more present lately. I feel like it is often hard to find a balance (not that I have any love for the concept of balance, but that is another post entirely) between capturing the everyday and focusing on unplugging more. I go back and forth so often, but I listened to an episode of At Home the other day that reminded me why I like to document the little things. One of the gals (I am bad at keeping track of who says what on that podcast) talked about going through a dark season and how much it helped her to be able to look at her feed and see that there were still moments of joy amid the sorrow. I have often felt this way.
I regularly scroll through those photos when I struggle... because I do stay home and care for my little family and our home, it is easy to feel like I am not "doing enough" or "making a difference" in my chosen vocation. However when I see the beauty of our everyday, it keeps me going. I see growth and progress more readily when it comes in the form of a series of square little images, all neatly arranged and ready to provide a glimpse into the way this season is being used by God.
So, I treasure my personal feed and the snapshot of my journey it provides. And yet, I also love the way that instagram provides encouragement and accountability for my faith and fitness journey. This is why I tend to keep my account public. I love the connections that can be created through hashtags and groups. I appreciate the opportunity to share my studies, the books I love, fitbit accomplishments... I want to continue to share these things.
So, I am once again (I have tried this before for both my Bible study groups and my fitness efforts) going to try to keep 2 accounts on Insta... one for documenting life (@bransonmerrill) and one for sharing my faith and fitbit studies and steps (@faithandfitbit). Maybe this will help me to once again find that encouragement and fellowship that I used to treasure on this platform. I sure hope so! I know that just complaining about algorithms isn't going to do me any good. Time to try to make the system work for me!