Instagram is supposed to be the ‘friendly’ feed: supportive, creative and inspiring. But do you ever feel that all that endless positivity – not to mention an endless stream of people living their ‘best life’ – actually just makes you feel like crap?
“Time to Kondo your feed,” writes Jessica Riga.
words and illustration by Jessica Riga
Like everyone else, I love me some Marie Kondo. Her Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, based around her best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, takes us into the lives and homes of ordinary Americans whose clutter is legit. These people have too much stuff and nowhere to put it so everything ends up on the floor: #relatable.
But what’s this got to do with who you follow on social media?
Does this user spark joy?
Marie’s magic steps to tidying up revolves around one simple question – does this spark joy? This goes for anything: your clothes, books, sentimental items and everything else. After watching a couple episodes of Kondo goodness and then physically witnessing my sister haul bags and bags of her joyless belongings out of her room (we’ve never moved) it got me thinking about the digital clutter in my life, specifically what fills up my social media feeds.
I’m sure most of us follow a few (or a lot of) accounts on Instagram which honestly just don’t spark joy, at least not anymore.
Maybe you’re following celebrities of the Kardashian kind that you can’t stand, but still find yourself keeping up with anyway?
Maybe there are certain influencers whose seemingly perfect lives just get under your skin … especially when their carefree posts pop up in your feed when you are mid-commute home from another gruelling day at work?
Maybe it’s the 40 supermodels you follow who are just too out of this world, or at least your world?
Whatever form your feed takes, we all have our Achilles’ heels. But we don’t need to. We have the power to unfollow and I think we forget that. Well, at least I did.
In the middle of last year, as a ‘career networking’ exercise, I went on a following-spree to immerse myself in the blogging and influencer world of Instagram. I discovered new accounts which I genuinely loved and still do. But what started as a little spree turned into a huge one. Suddenly I felt like I needed to follow literally everyone in the blogging and influencing universe, which is ridiculous when you write it down like that.
Predictably, my Instagram felt incredibly cluttered. I didn’t have a personal connection to the accounts I was following, and while their posts were great, some just weren’t my cup of tea. They didn’t spark joy, and the content I really wanted to see was getting lost.
I know what you are saying: “Girl, use the mute button!” Yes, I’ve become well acquainted with Instagram’s mute button, whereby you can still be following someone but remove their Stories, posts or both from your feeds. It has its time and place, but it felt like a band-aid solution, plus it felt weird to have this little list of muted accounts on my phone just looking back at me.
Instead, I found clicking that unfollow button to be a small action with a big, healthy impact on my headspace.
It was huge to realise that I was looking at something that didn’t bring me joy and was making me feel weird. Finally having a decluttered social feed felt like a weight had been lifted.
Wise words from Margaret Zhang
When I met one of my all-time favourite creatives, Margaret Zhang, I asked her how she dealt with the ability to always be connected and the constant feelings of comparisons.
“I don’t follow anyone in my field,” she said simply. “Seriously, if you check my Instagram I’m following under 50 people I think, and they’re all hairdressers because I can’t do my hair.
“I just don’t worry about what others are doing and focus on my own work.”
I checked her account and she was right. Margaret Zhang, who has over 1 million followers, is only following 50-something people!
If too many supermodels are getting you down, unfollow them. If too many celebrities are making you angry, unfollow them. If too many influencers aren’t resonating with you, unfollow them. It seems obvious, but I think it’s healthy to be reminded.
Here are some of Jessica Riga’s favourite Instagram accounts that spark all kinds of joy.
The ultimate fashion critics and designer copycatting watchdog.
A razor-sharp breakdown of exactly what it says on the can – every outfit on Sex and the City.
My favourite from RuPaul’s Drag Race and a constant source of fashion and makeup inspiration.
The down to earth, self-taught Australian make-up artist who won Season 2 of American Beauty Star!
Ex-Wall Street Journal writer turned roving reporter, Elizabeth Holmes. Follow her take on Meghan and Kate’s sartorial choices in So Many Thoughts.