My fling with Instagram
Ah instant gratification. Such an addictive thing. One needs to know the outcome of everything just about now. There is a shortage of patience and ironically this is when the world needs patience the most. Reels are much shorter. Access to knowledge is much easier. And now suddenly it is all about choices one makes. Perhaps a clear directive of how one was raised. If you were always told what to do, you wouldn’t know what to do when you had no one to tell you what to do.
The hooking up with Instagram. Perhaps my most one-sided relationship ever. Insta makes money from my incessant scrolling while I continue to damage my brain. Once I convinced myself that it is a healthy relationship and it is all about who you follow. Absolutely right. I follow the right kind of people and I have bursts of motivation, energy, sympathy, empathy, and drive. But the mind is a wicked thing. It has the default wiring to lead you astray from what you must be doing. The MUST is a rational choice you made after putting in variables of career, likes, payment, and a lot of other factors. So coming back, I did have a brief time of a few hours when I had chosen the right channels to follow and all feed was good. But there was this one moment, with wine in my hand that I faltered. One moment that I slipped, one moment when I just thought I will take a break from working my mind constantly and watch some random video of a dog’s nose or which actress was wearing what. That one moment of infidelity to my commitment to the right feeds, fucked up my recommendation engine. Slowly without me even realising it, all my recommendations had dog videos such as ‘Paw, adorable, nose adorable’ ‘Watch as my puppy grows across 10 months’, ‘Watch as blake lively’s dress transforms itself replicating the NY’. Let me be honest, it is not that I don’t like dog videos, don’t go awww over them or that they don’t make me smile. But in the slow process of my awwww and ‘just one more’, I had no idea when I was constantly only looking at them and the whole recommendation engine was messed up. From Neel, the Head of Engineering at CoffeeBeans, I hear that even a single click can change the algorithm for the recommendations.
And it is just that, right? Given there are a trillion options of what videos to watch, everything is so accessible right in front that it takes a mountain of willpower to not click on that icon. Maybe Instagram should have an option to block some types of videos. The kinds that can take you off and never would pop into your feeds. And even better, maybe Insta should have time control. A feature which behaves as if it is work hours, so here I am showing you ‘how to make more money in the recession’, or that it is after work ‘check out this dog playing with its arch enemy, the cat’ kind of videos. That would be so awesome. (Note the sarcasm) The next thing I know, I would be so addicted to Insta with a wrong assumption that this is safe because Insta’s algorithm takes care of what to show me when. So this is therapeutic and before you know it, I am relying on Insta to realise what time of the day it is rather than opening the blinds and looking at the fucking sky. (If you were near me now, you would have heard me scream as I typed this)
If by this time you believe that this is me complaining about how Insta has ruined my life, trust me it is quite the opposite. A bit at least. This is more of a realisation that I lack sufficient self-control to let myself get absorbed into the very seductive offerings of Instagram. Mind you, Instagram did not paint any false picture. It does exactly what it says. And I fell into that honey trap, thinking, just like all those people, that my mind was strong and that I would know how to control myself.
(wait, as I check if I have received any new msgs)
Nope, nothing new.
When I was younger (I am a geriatric millennial btw), I would often be in conflicts with my mom and dad over a choice when it comes to time vs money. They were willing to walk a little more to save some money when I quoted the famous line ‘Time is money’. I guess it was around that time when I started yearning for faster results. Workplace was not largely different. From a slow, risky waterfall model, Agile picked up pace when I joined the workforce. Now suddenly everything was measured in sprints. A week/two weeks. We are doing retros of what went wrong in the last two weeks. Of what can be done in the next two weeks. There are only a few who know the larger picture and suddenly everyone is in a rush because we have a showcase with the client in about 5 days. Wait, did we not just start the sprint 4 days ago? Faster feedback, Faster results. Quick quick.
As time passed in a jiffy, (it was 2008 just last week) so did the need to adapt to different things faster. As I grew more resilient in life, the options increased. And now there were suddenly so many things to do in so many ways that it could be done and so many other things that can be done. This may be a good place for me to mention that I am the kind of person who always has something on the to-do list. So the list never ends. Even relaxing to watch a movie is on my todo list :) Now you probably are beginning to understand the wiring of my brain. So coming back, time flew and the options were plenty. That only meant, there is less time. To stay sane, I had to ‘choose’ between all the things I wanted to do. I did make that tough choice. But no sooner than I had done that, did the itch begin. Am I missing out on something? Perhaps I was. And that is when I turned to Instagram which very proudly gloated on my face all the things that I had missed. The dance moves from a couple in Illinois, a man returning from the battlefield to his family as a surprise and all those things. I had no idea who these people were but I did have 46,740 new photos every minute to show me what I was missing. And it was not much too. Just about 2 sec for a pic and about 30 sec for a reel. That is doable, right? This 32 sec is something that I should be ok to spare to let my mind wander aimlessly without following a todo-list. Absolutely! but you know what comes next. That 32 sec did not stop at 32 sec, thanks to the scroll option and the very efficient and quick recommendation engine. That 32 sec went to sometimes 60 min on a very busy day. On non-busy days, let’s just say I am fairly ashamed to take the number.
But alas, there comes a time when one must realise what is good for them and what isn’t and let go. That is the first relationship advice. However, if you thought I am writing this blog after realising how badly I was addicted to Instagram, then no that was not the reason. It was a sheer bet with my colleagues that made me step away from it. But in the course of winning that bet, is when I realised how much more harm it had done to me than good. Perhaps I am yet to figure out what method works to still be healthily attached to Insta just for enough while to gather info and grow my knowledge. Perhaps Insta could get some features to make this job easier for me by risking their market. It doesn’t matter though. Insta and I are right now just a couple that met at the wrong time in our lives. Perhaps in another time and space, we would have been a perfect match for each other. Sending all my doubts of lack of self-discipline to another universe, I take out my phone now, look deeply into the pink camera icon and delete it with a sigh as I say ‘It’s not you….. It’s me.’