A year or two ago, I made a change in how I use Instagram. It was becoming the app I’d habitually open as soon as I unlocked my iPhone, just to check if there was something new waiting there for me. I’m one of those people that long ago stopped using Facebook, realising it wasn’t healthy for me, but don’t have the strength to fully abolish social media and lose the few strands of connection I feel with my friends and acquaintances outside my city.
So what I did was unfollow almost everyone, and impose a limit of only being allowed to follow 50 accounts on myself — inspired by Path, a social media app I have very fond memories of, that was meant to help you stay in touch with just your closest friends and family.
It totally changed how I interact with Instagram, only opening it once or twice a day at most, since there usually won’t be any new content. Instagram injects just as many ads, so half of my feed has become ads, but that’s okay because they’re not engaging in the same way as content from real people.
Recently, I’ve made the switch to Mastodon, now that Twitter is even worse than it used to be. I used some of the tools available to follow some of the same people I used to follow on Twitter, but am still only following about 75 accounts at the time of writing this.
I realised Mastodon allows me to have that same calm experience — no algorithmically generated feeds with something new every time you refresh, no companies fighting for your attention. You can go 15 minutes without anything new being posted in your feed.