Disclaimer: this blog post is not to put blame on the app or the people who followed me. Rather, it’s simply to illuminate what was wrong with my mentally and ideologies regarding social media and instagram.
Okay, where to begin? I guess at the beginning.
I first got instagram back in 2011 when it wasn’t really a thing. I used it to post photos of me, my dog, my friends, etc. It wasn’t until May of 2013 that I created a “healthy food fitspo” instagram account that eventually became what most of the people who follow me know as “addictedtofruit” which then became “katrinanerisse_”
The account started off very basic. I’ve always liked photography, and one day I guess I just started taking pictures of little snacks I made. During this time, I was really trying to be fit and healthy for summer, so the account was kind of created as like, a motivation for myself. I never created the account with an intent of gaining followers. Not at all! It was kept to myself and I didn’t tell anyone about it. Like I said, it was my own personal motivator or “fitspo”.
But then something strange began happening. I started gaining followers. LOTS of followers. Within a month my account had one thousand followers. Another month, another thousand. And then it kept increasing, faster and faster, that by late September of 2013, I had reached ten thousand followers.
And after that, well, it only kept going from there.
The more food photos I would post, the more people would ask me for recipes. That’s when I first created a blog in November 2013, because I needed one place for all of these recipes.
Everything was going so well. I was getting tons of traffic to my blog, and it was actually becoming something. Here I was, six months later, with all of these followers and a cool blog that was blooming, all because I randomly decided to start posting my food pics one day.
In December 2013, I randomly decided to go meat free.
In January 2014, I discovered veganism.
In February 2014, I went vegan.
During this time, (Feb 2014), I realized that I needed a proper website, not some amateur blog on blogspot. At this point, my instagram had over 21k followers. So, I signed up on WordPress and created my site. Since then, it has gone through so many transformations. From being solely a food and recipe blog called “The Colourful Kitchen”, (as some of you early followers may or may not remember), to eventually what it is today, “Mindfully Bliss” in November 2014, nearly one year after I first created a blog.
You see, I loved this new found “fame” I was having. I absolutely adored creating recipes, food photography, veganism, etc. I loved posting and sharing my life and food. But as my following grew, so did I. We don’t stay the same, forever, after all, and with this growth of followers came a personal growth within myself. I was eighteen-turning-nineteen that year, and I realized I wanted my website to be more than just food and recipes. I wanted it to help people. I began posting more and more about not just food, but veganism, mindfulness, self-love, etc. I wanted the website to represent who I was as a person, and what my goals were, which was to help others.
That’s why I eventually changed the name from “The Colourful Kitchen” to “Mindfully Bliss”, to better suit my website.
Okay, let’s fast forward to March 2015. I had just reached 50k and I was on cloud nine. For some reason, my little mind equated likes and followers with value, so apparently I was successful and a better person because of a social media account.
Around this time, I began wanting more. I followed so many lifestyle and travel accounts and I loved their content. I personally have always been into photography, travel, adventure, etc, and I had soooo many photos just stored away on my computer that never really went anywhere. I thought to myself, I wish I could post some of these on my Instagram. But I couldn’t – I had a food instagram, after all. And that’s like, forbidden. You stick to your content. You never stray out of those boundaries or change your feed in any way!!! Gosh.
So I continued on with my life, posting away about food, and just accepting this was my fate.
Over the next few months, I began experimenting with altering some of my content. I still posted vegan food (don’t worry), but I also began posting a sunset photo here and there. Or a travel photo. A selfie with my food. And I was getting a pretty good response! Didn’t lose followers, didn’t have my likes ratio go down. Everything was going swell. As long as I stuck to only doing this sometimes.
Over those last few months, I had a desire to change my username. It was, after all, “addictedtofruit,” still and I just wanted to change it to be my name. Because I wanted to be more than just food. But I was too afraid I’d lose a ton of followers.
Fast forward to November 2015. I finally gained the courage and changed my username to “katrinanerisse_” MY NAME. FINALLY!
I was so excited to have my username as my actual name! Now I could have the freedom to post whatever I wanted without feeling restricted or suppressed to only posting food photos!!!!
Ha, was I ever wrong.
First of all, I lost about nine hundred followers. It’s not even like I changed my username and then deleted all my food pics and replaced them with selfies. I changed my username. That was it. I continued posting food photos to eventually ease into this whole “lifestyle/account with MY OWN name” thing. But still, right when I changed my username, I lost followers. And it just kept going down.
Now, this blog post isn’t here to talk about my follower progression and eventual decrease. I’m here to talk about WHY I deleted it.
So let’s fast forward to around one year since the name change: October 2016. (two months ago)
I felt unhappy with my instagram account. My life had changed so much since May 2013 when I first created the account and was so in love with creating recipes and taking photos. I had lost a ton of followers, and since my trip to Europe over the summer where I posted ‘more than usual’ personal/non-food photos, I not only lost thousands of followers, but the average amount of likes on my photo went from 1800-2000, to 600……
I just want to point out that followers and likes didn’t really mean much to me. Well, that’s a lie. In the beginning it did. Oh, for sure it did. How could they not? I was so excited when I first saw that I had one thousand followers on that account.
But eventually over time, as I lost more followers after the username change, I got to the point where I no longer cared. I knew I would lose followers if I posted a certain photo, but I did it anyways. Because I said to myself: I created this instagram account for me. I do it because it’s what I love to do, not for other people. So if I want to post a photo of something, whether it be me, a travel photo, a cute artsy photo, or even a food photo, I’m going to post it. For ME. And if I lose followers, so what? At least I knew the ones who didn’t support my account’s content were out of the way. Why would I want them following me anyways?
And again, I am placing no blame whatsoever on the people who followed me. I get it. If you’re following a food account and they change their content to start incorporating more lifestyle photos, you may not want to follow that content any longer. Personally reasonable.
But it got to the point where I couldn’t do it any longer. I was/am at a point in my life where there are so many things happening. I just started my fourth year of university in September, and you may not know this, but I am an aspiring novelist, so I write stories and novels and such. I’ve been focusing a lot on my writing and trying to get published, and also school and assignments. The passion I once had for the account was a flame. Once burning so brightly and strong, had now died down to a small flicker.
The spark was just no longer there.
I think it might have been different if I was gaining followers and likes. But I wasn’t. Not only was the passion fading away, but so were the followers. So I got to the point where I was like, what’s the point? If I’m not enjoying it, and my followers aren’t even enjoying it, why would I waste my time any longer?
I still enjoy making vegan food and taking photos. But you have to understand, to someone who’s life revolves around that, and literally to have people relying on you to post certain criteria… you feel a sort of pressure. Especially when you have nearly sixty thousand people following you.
Taking food photos isn’t easy. You need to have the right ingredients to make the food like aesthetically pleasing. You need a good backdrop. Good lighting, etc. During this time two months ago, and for a long time before that, I didn’t have the desire to take food photos! I’d wake up and just want to freaking EAT my breakfast, not worry about photographing it. I’d have to go to the store and buy certain products and ingredients. I had this massive pressure on me to post, and to post good content, and not let my followers down.
Not even going into detail about the stresses this whole thing had on my life. Not mentioning the tons of companies emailing me to do product reviews, telling me to post a certain thing, doing it a certain way, etc.
It became too much.
Along with the longing desire I had to just freaking post what I wanted, not what I was expected to post. My photography became so limited. I could only post a certain food photo, because hell, if I posted a photo with bad lighting or not at a good angle, or even if someone just didn’t like it, I’d lose followers.
I couldn’t do that anymore. So finally, two months ago, I deactivated my Instagram account.
I didn’t delete it permanently because I could never do that, especially after three years of documenting and recording my life there. So I deactivated it with the goal in mind to just take a break. I wasn’t thinking of a time to come back at all. It could be in a few months. It could be never. But I didn’t think about it. I didn’t set that limit or pressure on myself. I just did what was best for me and left.
I must say, my life doesn’t that different. Other than the fact that all of those stresses and pressures are gone. I can wake up and not worry about photographing breakfast. I can go to the store and not feel pressured to buy freaking ACAI to get a good acai bowl shot. I can do whatever the hell I want with my food and what I eat. And let me just say, that’s a lot of weight off my shoulders from the past three years.
I’m writing this blog post not only give you an update (in case anyone is wondering, hey, what happened to her instagram?), but also as a lesson. Because I know that there are tons of people out there who may be feeling the exact same way as I did. And maybe they’re too afraid to do anything about it.
This sounds so trivial because, well, IT’S FREAKING SOCIAL MEDIA we’re talking about. People will tell you this whole blog post is ridiculous because it’s a first-world problem. But the reality is, this is the generation we live in. Where social media controls people’s lives. It’s a valid thing to feel stressed and overwhelmed over these sorts of things, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
So if you want to make a change, then do it. Don’t let the fear losing likes or followers control your decisions, because at the end of the day, IT DOESN’T MATTER. When you turn off your phone, all of it ceases to exist in your present reality. You are just a person. If the world suddenly lost all technology, you’d just be another regular person. Having one hundred followers, a thousand followers, or a million followers doesn’t change that.
It doesn’t increase your worth. It doesn’t make you happier or more successful.
All the followers in the world, and you could still be unhappy with your life. Take Selena Gomez for instance. As she stated in her recent AMA speech, she is the most followed person on Instagram IN THE WORLD. And she was empty and broken inside. She had to take a break. She didn’t use her instagram for over three months. She was dealing with depression and anxiety and did what was best for her: she checked into rehab.
So don’t let these insta-famous people fool you. Life doesn’t instantly become better once you reach 1 million followers. Because that mindset consumes and ruins your life. I had this mindset that I’d finally be considered successful when I reached 10k. Then it was 20k. Then it was 50k. And when I reached 50k, despite the happiness I felt, I already had a new goal forming in my mind: 100k.
It’s obsessive. It’s dangerous. It’s not healthy.
Don’t be like that.
Your worth is not determined by likes. Your value is not determined by how many followers you have.
You’re more than just a number. You’re so much more than that.
ps. not self promo or anything, but I finally created a brand NEW account, this one just for myself. Here, in this space, I don’t care about likes or followers. I honest to God just love photography and am so passionate about it. I do really love Instagram, despite all of this. So I didn’t want to completely have nothing, considering I use no other social media apps (except Facebook on occasion). So this is a space where I can truly express myself as an individual. I can post my photography. I can post my thoughts and inner feelings on the captions. I can post whatever the hell I want and not feel pressured by anyone.
Follow me there. We can be friends 🙂