Goodbye, Instagram.

Hello, Twitter Fleets.

I finally did it. I finally deleted my Instagram account. And it is such an incredibly liberating feeling.

I’ve never had a Facebook account. I never created one. And I’ve always been kinda proud about that—for many reasons. But I did create an Instagram account about 8 years ago or so.

When I created my Instagram account my intention was to create that account for my pet birds. I had two at the time and wanted to collect and share photos of them somewhere on the Internet. So I did it on Instagram.

When I started traveling to speak and taking photos of places I visited, I also wanted a place to quickly share those photos. So I started uploading them to my Instagram account too.

But I didn’t even have anyone to share them with back then. I didn’t have a significant following. I was mainly posting those photos online for myself, so that I’d have a place to collect them and share a link to should I ever want to share them with anyone. I loved how easy Instagram made it to upload a photo as soon as I took it and apply some basic image editing effects to it if I wanted, and then post it. It was so easy. So convenient. Instagram was perfect for that.

Over the years, my Twitter following grew and some of that following found me on Instagram and followed me there. But my Instagram following was a fraction of my Twitter following, and I didn’t really care to grow it. I never planned to use Instagram to promote my work. I never looked at it as a professional tool. I didn’t have plans to grow it. And I surely never wanted to become an “influencer”.

Unless I was traveling somewhere and sharing photos of places and events I was attending, I didn’t really have much else to post or share. I mean, I could of course share a lot, but I don’t want to. I value my privacy a lot and set a very hard line between my personal and professional life, especially online.

So recently, Instagram became just a place for me to share what Twitter now calls “Fleets” — snapshots in time that would disappear within a day. I shared these on my stories. Mostly random everyday stuff. Sometimes photos of food. Sometimes photos of nice places I visited. Sometimes a photo of my cup of ginger tea and lemon in the morning as I would set up for work. And sometimes speaking announcements that I knew weren’t really needed there because everyone interested in my speaking is probably following me on Twitter and was already getting those announcements there.

With time, I also started limiting most of my photos, especially my food photos, to a circle of “Close Friends”, which, for me, was more like a circle of “people I think are cool that I know or have met in real life”. After the economical crisis that started becoming worse in Lebanon over the last year, I started being more sensitive about the kinds of posts I was sharing and how they would affect people viewing them. I wouldn’t want to share a photo of a big meal with someone who’s barely making enough money to put food on their family’s table. I became very sensitive to the idea that my posts might make someone, anyone, feel bad. And so I posted less and less over time, and I preferred to share more personal snapshots with “Close Friends” in Stories, rather than in public posts.

I became less and less active on my account as time went by and as my follower count started to increase.

As a result of those changes, I created a second account that was private by default. I thought: I’m only sharing my posts with people I know and am mainly only following people I know anyway, so I might as well create a separate account where I get to have a little more freedom to post. And I only accepted follow requests there from people I myself follow or know.

I spent 90% of my Instagram time after that in the other account. I shared the same stuff in the new account that I was sharing in the stories with close friends, but I still limited my posts a lot and also posted them mostly to my stories.

Instagram felt “better”, and much “quieter” for a while. I would switch between the two accounts, occasionally posting something to my public account.

But throughout all this time I kept questioning my existence on Instagram. It just felt like a complete waste of time. I wasn’t getting any useful benefit out of it. Nor was I providing any particular value to my followers. So why was I still on there?

Not only did I not get any real value out of Instagram, but it was sucking too much of my spare time as I scrolled through the Explore tab. And even though I felt terrible every time, I still did it over and over again.

Scrolling through posts on Instagram I started hating the platform more and more every day. I hated the perfectly curated timelines and posts of a perfectly happy perfect life that everybody knew was fake but somehow still enjoyed seeing photos of.

I hated seeing people get sucked into buying things they didn’t and constantly trying to impress people they didn’t like.

I hated seeing people turn into advertisement machines. Influencers creating the illusion of a life in order to help big corporate companies sell more stuff and make more money. People that started out enjoying Instagram for what it is and for the community, turned into salespeople using that community to make money.

And then the new UI update rolled out. And boy did I hate it. Instagram was basically adding more sleazy ways to push people into consumerism. The icon placement and moving the Shop section to where the Notifications section was — a section everyone opens multiple times per day — is just a sleazy way to get people to see more “things” and want more things they thought they needed but didn’t.

The Instagram of today is not the Instagram of yeester-year or the years before. And it sucks.

Hello, Twitter fleets.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to share things on my Twitter account but didn’t because

  1. I didn’t want to “spam” my followers’ timelines, and
  2. I wanted to share those things in spoken or video format, but couldn’t.

If you’ve followed me for a while then you’ve probably heard me say “this is your account, post whatever you want on it!”, and I do tend to practice what I preach and post whatever I want on my account. But I also try to appreciate that many people follow me for the useful content I share, and I’d like my Twitter account to remain like that. So I do still occasionally tweet non-tech stuff, but not too often. (Balance!)

Then Twitter Fleets came. And for once, I was actually excited about a new Twitter feature.

There are things about Twitter that I don’t like, but this feature was a winner for me. And it was the last push I needed to finally delete my Instagram accounts.

With Fleets, I can now share non-tech stuff, especially photos and short videos, without having them clutter my follower’s timelines. With time, I’m sure I’ll probably find other kinds of content to share there. But I’ll let the experience on it determine what it will be.

I’ve always liked seeing non-tech tweets from people I like and follow on Twitter (in moderation. ha.) And I still do. It’s refreshing seeing tweets that bring out the human side of the people behind the avatars. Fleets are now perfect to do just that. If I want the tech content, I’ll know where to scroll. And if I’m in for the personal stuff, I know where to find it. That is, of course, assuming the people I follow will use Fleets for that purpose.

I agree with Catalin Pit here:

Why do I like Fleets?

I can finally see humans on this platform, and not only accounts. It adds personality.

It adds a new perspective to Twitter. It also reduces the burden of pushing out tweets constantly.

It can also help with the fear of speaking in front of the camera.

— Catalin Pit (@catalinmpit) November 20, 2020

Every single Fleet I’ve seen so far from accounts I follow (with the exception of one) have been non-techy. And I like that. Even tech fleets are fine with me as long as they are not just screenshots of tweets. I’ve always muted Instagram accounts’s stories when they were used to basically double-post a regular post. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that. I just find it annoying.

Personally, I will most likely be using Twitter fleets to share stuff similar to the stuff I had been sharing on my Instagram stories. My fleets will mostly be non-web dev content. You have been warned. So, if you’ve got zero interest in such posts from me (I wouldn’t take it personally), I recommend going to my profile now and muting my fleets so they don’t show up on your homepage.

Hello again, email.

Most of my Instagram contacts are either people I know in real life or people I know from the Web dev community. For the most part, I can keep in touch with them either via Whatsapp, Twitter, or Slack.

Another part of my Instagram follows is brands I like. I follow them for product updates. And I only follow a handful. To substitute for their Instagram accounts, and since I’m only interested in major updates and releases, I’ve re-activated an email account that I used to use for online purchases, and am reserving its Inbox for marketing newsletters from those brands. So now I only get exposed to new content from them when I decide that I’m interested in it.

Sigh of Relief

It feels so good to finally do something I’ve been wanting to do for years. And I highly recommend you do the same if you’re in a similar place as me.

I still find myself grabbing my phone and unlocking it and not knowing exactly what to do at times. I’d normally open Instagram and waste time scrolling. Now I’m becoming more deliberate with the time I spend on my phone, and am trying to do more useful things with it. More importantly, I’m spending less time on my phone, and more time on my desk or outside — working, writing a new article, or taking a good break outside.

My travel photos will get a new home, possibly on this site or on their own domain. My conference and events photos will be shared on Twitter fleets, the speaking page, and the press kit (when appropriate). The rest, will be fleets in time. On Twitter.

So, see you there! ❤

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