Lessons I Learned From Purging My Insta Feed

Collage featuring author, Deb Bawe, with title of "Lessons I Learned From Purging My Insta Feed"

Instagram is more than skin-deep. If you look beyond the shallowness and superficiality we sometimes associate the app with (guilty!), you’ll realize what #FOMO really means.

When I saw my screen report at the end of the week, I started asking myself: “How am I benefiting from knowing Khloe Kardashian got back together with her infamous ex Tristan Thompson?” No offense to Khloe, but what’s in there for me?

That’s when I decided it was time to take a closer look at the people I was following and why their lives were so intriguing that I spent hours watching them. I felt the urge to keep my feed clean and relevant. I wanted to unfollow and disconnect with accounts that felt harmful to my mental health. Instagram CAN be a pretty powerful tool when used thoughtfully. It contains a tremendous amount of information on essential topics such as health and well-being. Plus, my follower-to-following ratio was slightly off—some accounts had to go!

I started with accounts I was interacting with the least (thanks for the suggestion, IG.) And it turns out there were many pages I had no interest in (anymore) but was still following. I also scrolled through my feed and asked myself if the content I saw brought me joy, new information, or some satisfaction. 

Analyzing the pages most shown in my feed was eye-opening; most of these accounts were celebrities and influencers. I didn’t even know who half of these people were. I learned about everything that went on in Alexis’s life but had no idea who she was, what she did, and why I even followed her in the first place.

Disco ball in garbage can

Spending several hours on Instagram will do that to you. You start asking yourself: “Why am I even following Kendall Jenner? What is it about her page that brings me joy?” But you don’t always have to keep up with the Kardashians. Sometimes you just have to Mary Kondo the sh*t out of your feed. If they don’t spark joy, unfollow. Are they using photoshop? Unfollow. Do you even know who they are? Unfollow. Don’t hesitate to unfollow that one kid you went to school with because chances are they’re probably not even following you. 

I realized that looking at the type of content I consume, good or bad, is essential. I wanted to add variety to my feed. After unfollowing hundreds of accounts, I craved content that was real, informative, body-positive, and socially responsible. My next step was to follow pages that were more in line with what I wanted to see. 

Handwritten quote by Deb Bawe: "Of course, I could NEVER unfollow Beyouncé, but maybe I can add a socially woke account to help me gain knowledge on things that matter IRL."

Of course, I could NEVER unfollow Beyouncé, but maybe I can add a socially woke account to help me gain knowledge on things that matter IRL. It’s nice to know that Kylie Jenner baked Christmas cookies with her daughter Stormi but do you know how freaking satisfying it is to understand what “packing the court” means (finally)?! Plus, it made me feel smarter.

I started following fitness trainers/influencers, anti-racist pages, and any account that felt relevant. I wanted to become more body-positive (I don’t regret the delicious food, but quarantine 15 is real!) and love myself based on my beauty standards. 

There’s something about seeing women with natural, beautiful bodies on my feed—it’s refreshing. It makes me appreciate my own body a little more. Seeing people who are so open about their struggles with self-love and liking their bodies tells you that it’s okay sometimes to feel insecure; it’s human. Even Kim Kardashian has insecurities. At least, I think so?

From all of this, I learned to consider how my feed makes me feel. For instance, I love following fitness trainers/influencers because they don’t make me feel like I have to look like them. Their message is encouraging and supportive, which is not always the case with Instagram models. Sometimes, it feels like what they’re posting is saying, "If you don't look like me or have my lifestyle, you’ve failed.” Now, I think long and hard before following a page because I don’t want to undo what I’ve accomplished this year.

The same rings true for the brands I follow. Many consumers like me are unfollowing brands on social media because they feel their content is inauthentic. We’re craving content that is real, raw, inclusive, and socially responsible. 

Whether you’re an influencer or a brand, you need to be more conscious of the unhealthy expectations you might (unknowingly) be putting on your followers. We want content that adds value to our lives through either entertainment or useful information to improve our well-being. Sure channel your inner Kourtney Kardashian, but also help people learn who Breonna Taylor is and why she deserves justice.

Deb Bawe

Debs is a full-time writer, part-time fashion & beauty YouTuber. After living on three different continents, she developed a fiery love and appreciation for other cultures. Rumor has it, she’s been watching so many Korean dramas this year she’s closed to speaking Korean. Add to that an obsession for Japanese animes, West African food, and Dutch music.

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