How to Exercise Your Attention Using Instagram?
TL;DR: Post photos daily as a morning ritual. Observe your surroundings attentively, capture moments, and post them on Instagram for yourself, not for others.
Longer Version :)
This is a story of two crises, many joyful moments, and practicing mindfulness. Long, long ago, I had a camera. I was a little child, but my parents raised me in a photographic culture. The camera accompanied us on trips and family gatherings. I even remember the strange chemicals in the darkroom (developer, fixer). My first camera was a Practica. It used film, which, treated with reverence, could reveal something after some time. Later, I had a digital camera, a Minolta Z10, bought with my first hard-earned money, 20 years later. Eventually, I ended up with two cameras: one cool and one cooler. The cool one is an iPhone, and the cooler one is a simple mirrorless camera with interchangeable 4/3 lenses. The process of exhibiting photos was also interesting, from vast catalogs filled with junk, through extensive cleaning and "developing prints" to the iCloud gallery on the iPhone.
But what does all of this have to do with Instagram? Well, Instagram is a straightforward and effective tool for sharing photos. I've had two attempts with it, both unsuccessful. The first attempt was a long time ago when I posted some photos. The failure came when I ran out of photos, and I didn't know what kind of content I should provide to my audience. Additionally, I compulsively used this social medium and treated it as a time filler (with all its disadvantages). I deleted my account.
Later, in an interesting book, I read something like, "Post one photo daily on Instagram. Do it for yourself to force yourself to observe continuously and practice mindfulness." I really liked that idea. I already had 40-100 photos in stock (so my reserves wouldn't run out quickly). Besides, I constantly look around with a square frame (Instagram prefers square framing) in my surroundings. It's a nice feeling.
Unfortunately, the second failure was related to Instagram. Due to my tendency to compulsive behavior, Instagram found a way to exploit it. It's called reels or some other short format similar to TikTok. The way it works is small, dopamine-inducing snippets that demand simple, mindless entertainment. They hijack your attention and energy, diverting them from something more meaningful.
I realized I lost the battle against the herd of psychologists and engineers at Meta (Instagram's parent company). I uninstalled the app. Now I post from my computer, albeit irregularly. For over 300 days, I posted a photo every morning while walking my dog as a small ritual.
How did it end? I still recommend installing Instagram, taking photos, and posting for yourself. It's incredibly satisfying and helps train your mindfulness. For someone with a lack of imagination like me (I have aphantasia), the images I capture and revisit after some time are very soothing and provide a space for my brain to wander. Unfortunately, I lost the battle with the tool. Perhaps I'll look for an app that only uploads, or I'll move to a different platform.