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Slaves to the Algorithm

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

A few months ago, I deleted every single post I've ever made on Instagram. I've got this whacky obsession with fresh starts, you see. And after a few years of posting sporadically and constantly switching my aesthetic, a fresh start felt like the perfect remedy.

What I didn't piece together, for some imbecilic reason, was that deleting every single post I've ever made would effectively wipe my account off the Instagram algorithm altogether — and now, only a small handful of my almost 3,000 follower base is actually seeing my posts.

I've lost over 150 followers in the last three months — and this is after gaining over 450 followers in under a month last October and November. This has almost nothing to do with what I've been actually posting, or the services I'm advertising, or even my overall presence, and has everything to do with mastering the notorious Instagram algorithm.

Which feels almost . . . abusive, at this point.

There's no consistent rhyme or reason to the mechanics of this algorithm, which I feel Instagram deliberately keeps enigmatic and mysterious. In doing so, we're all under their thumb, desperate to remain relevant. And when it gets overwhelming — which it always does — we're reluctant to take a step back for fear of losing these followers we've fought so hard to get.

This year, I've decided to return to my old approach to Instagram: I'm going to post honestly and openly about my publishing journey. I'll interact and engage with the writing community. I'll keep using my platform as a means of advertising my books.

But I'm not posting content for other people anymore. My platform will be a way through which others can get to know me, as a human being, NOT AS A CREATOR OF CONTENT. Not as some dancing monkey, clapping symbols together in exchange for public adoration. And this certainly isn't to say that my platform won't offer educational insights and potentially useful information to my followers, but rather to say that that isn't the sole purpose of it.

More than ever before, we've got to actively protect our energy. We've got to discover, embrace, and love our authentic selves. We've got to unapologetically follow our dreams, and so the fuck what if nobody is watching us while we do it?

When I follow an account on Instagram, it isn't because they offer content that I feel enlightened or educated by. It's because I like who they are as people. It's because at some point in time, I've become invested in their journey. And honestly, I don't normally follow somebody until I've seen their posts crop up in my feed several times — not just once.

With that in mind, I think it's important for all of us to remind ourselves that we've got bigger fish to fry than building a following on social media. We've got books to write, and podcast episodes to record, and personal horizons to explore, and friendships to build with fellow authors — and if the quantity of your following doesn't impress you, the quality of it should.

If you're stressing over building an author platform, my advice is this: WRITE YOUR HEART OUT.

Throw all of your energy into writing the book of your soul and publishing it accordingly, and the followers will come — not because they're interested in your content, but because they've fallen in love with your journey, your written work. Your art.

And if you take a step back from social media? Those followers won't disappear. They'll stay loyal forever, awaiting your return. That's the real key to social media, isn't it? Forging *those* types of connections, *those* types of readers. Not stressing over the abusive, codependent relationship that is offering content to strangers on the internet who may, without explanation, disappear and never return, lol.

What're your thoughts on this? Comment below!

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