Why I Chose to Unfollow Two Thousand People on Instagram
WHY I CHOSE TO UNFOLLOW
TWO THOUSAND PEOPLE
L I F E . S T Y L E D .
"Chose to unfollow" sounds a bit more dramatic than it was. I recently discovered that this was one of the most searched topics on the BECKLEY site, so it's my pleasure to illuminate you all on the details.
I currently, at this very moment at 9:41 am on February 22, follow I 183 on Instagram from the BECKLEY profile. A couple months ago that number was approaching two or three thousand - it's all a blur. Then I saw an ad on Instagram stories for an app that cleans out your Instagram, I swiped past because of the tiny "SPONSORED" in the top left corner, and then quickly went back for a closer look. For some reason in that moment, without thinking a lot about it, I downloaded the app.
I didn't look into all the details of what the app would do, but ultimately it unfollowed everyone I was following, without me having to manually do it.
I was being exposed to too much. I wanted to care about each post I saw, be inspired by every travel photo, think critically on every opinion shared, appreciate every fashion risk taken. Instead, I started comparing minute details within each post to my own work, or to someone else's aesthetic trying to find the difference between inspiration and copying. I judged more than I appreciated, and I became numb to the photos that once inspired me.
I used to follow bloggers or brands and felt like I really knew them, or at least knew what to expect from them. But it started to feel like I was in a crowded room with people I should know, but really had no idea who they were.
So I just wanted to start with a clean slate. It really wasn't much more than that.
I'm analytical by nature, and the amount of stories, outfits, flat lays, breakfasts, travel photos, puppies, kids, inspirational quotes, etc. skewed my perception of the world. The constant influx of data made me anxious. And I would analyze the amount of shadow someone took up when they edit photos, or the way someone avoided a reflection of the camera in their wine glass, or if someone stands a certain way they look taller than they are in real life. I wasn't appreciating what people were actually posting, and that made me unimpressed by everything - including my own work.
Being original is my number one, can't-let-it-go, biggest thing I hold on to. When I was seeing ten people shoot in the same location doing the same thing, it made me so annoyed. Then when a client would suggest we shoot in that location, I was wrapped up in trying to shoot in the same spot, but make it so different, and it was just a hot mess for a while if I'm being perfectly honest. I travel plenty for my work, so this wasn't Dallas specific, but I'm not excluding the same handful of spots that people shoot in Dallas. Dallas bloggers shoot in the same locations literally all the time, which completely makes sense because Dallas offers a bunch of photogenic locations and vignettes that no one person has claim over. There is no problem with people shooting in the same place, but I was frustrated in seeing how people photographed there previously, and it hindered my ability to feel like I was capturing the scene as I saw it - I was always skewed by trying to be different than what anyone else had done.
It gave me clarity
That's the biggest thing. It gave me a breather to revisit who I am as a photographer. It helped clear my mind.
I will continue to add back to the amount of people I follow, but I'm so glad I shed that crutch of feeling like I needed to be following certain people in order to know what is relevant and on-trend.
We have to be selective about what commands our attention. We only have so much brain capacity, and I'd rather dedicate my attention to friends, family, and my work, before I start offering it to some fashion blogger in Germany whose face I've never seen but who always looks good in jeans.. nope don't need that right now.
Clear out the clutter, respect your own time, and be intentional about how you give your attention.