Open, refresh, double click, swipe up. Open, refresh, double click, swipe up. Open, refresh…

I can’t even fathom the actual number of times I’ve repeated this cycle. Especially over the past year and a half. I open Instagram, refresh for likes and follower updates, double click my home button, and swipe up to close out of the app. And to be honest, the latter two steps are almost always done in vain, knowing I’ll begin the cycle over again in sometimes just a mere few seconds.

I knew I was developing a bad habit; a bad addiction to my Instagram. But it was so hard not to! Drawing and putting my doodles out there became addicting in a few ways:

I was addicted to the sense of accomplishment that posting every single day gave me. It felt good to be so committed to something, even if it was something small.

I was addicted to making connections through my doodles. It felt amazing to know I was making people smile, laugh, feel. Some of the messages I received would truly make my day.

But I was also addicted to the validation I got from likes and follower growth. Open, refresh, double click, swipe up. The happiness I felt when a post really connected with people and gained thousands of likes did not come without a harsh antagonist: the disappointment I felt when a post didn’t. I would try to talk myself out of the disappointment and realize that posting every day is not easy; coming up with something that connects with everyone every day is near impossible.

But, you know the drill: while you might be able to get Negativity to leave the front of the room, sit down, and stop shouting, he will then just simply take a seat in the back and subtly but persistently tap his foot in anticipation of the next opportunity for an outburst.

My Negativity outburst came with one of the recent Instagram updates. I’m sure you’ve noticed it in your own feeds and have likely seen many artists posting about it, so I’ll make the long story short: Instagram now heavily filters people’s timelines so that they see more of the larger accounts that use paid promotion strategies. I feel a surge of anger when Instagram now gives me notifications: “Your post is doing 85% better than your other posts. Pay to promote it!”

No, I don’t want to pay to promote my post. No, I don’t want to tell all my followers to turn on my post notifications (who actually wants that??). But also no, I don’t want to feel so crappy when I lose 200 followers because of the limits Instagram now puts on discovery without promotion.

The paranoid conspiracy-theorist in me half-thinks that Instagram orchestrates and then manipulates the psychology they know is at play with social media. For all we know, Instagram could be influencing numbers and engagement reports so that dismayed users eventually do respond to the “Pay to promote it!” notification. I can’t help but wonder if that's true, especially as I look at the ghoulish photo of Zuckerberg on trial plastered on every news outlet.

All this is not to say that I feel as though Instagram is out to get me or that I deserve more—it’s simply to say that Instagram has beckoned Negativity to the front of the room for me, and I need some time to convince him to sit back down. There are far more important voices that should be standing in his place: genuine love for doodling, creative joy, internal validation; the list goes on. My plan is to sit with them for a while and convince them to step back up to the front when they’re ready. I’ll be back!

Lots of love, Decade2Doodles