Instagram Like a 'Drug That Doesn't Get Us High Anymore,' Says Original Employee Who Deleted Her Account

Instagram Like a 'Drug That Doesn't Get Us High Anymore,' Says Original Employee Who Deleted Her Account

One of Instagram's original 13 employees recently deleted her account altogether, and to hear her talk of why and how she thinks the platform has gone downhill is quite interesting and insightful.

Bailey Richardson was one of the 13 original employees at Instagram, though she eventually left the company after the Facebook acquisition (as did all but three of those original 13). Recently, she also deleted her account entirely. In an interview with The Washington Post, she details why she was driven to this point, and a lot of it centers around what she feels is the loss of an organic, human-driven community that emphasized real connections, replaced with the algorithmic, numbers-driven behemoth that places quantity and marketing above all else. 

I've had my Instagram since the app was less than a year old, having created my account way back in 2011, and I certainly agree with Richardson's perspective. Before about 2015, my experience on the app was vastly different; I made a fair number of connections and friends with whom I remain in touch today. Since then, organic and meaningful connections have slowly evaporated away, and the app feels more like an idle time suck than a place I used to be excited to go to. I liken it a lot to snail mail versus email. Before 2015, an Instagram notification was like when I got snail mail as a kid — much rarer and meaningful. Today, it's like an email — I get hundreds of those a day, most entirely meaningless.

The full article is well worth reading and can be seen on the Washington Post.

Lead image by Webster2703, used under Creative Commons.

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Rick Nash's picture

Agree with Bailey Richardson, its gone souless. What's missing from the article is fingering Zuckerberg being effectively a vampire sucking the life out the platform and transforming it into a slave of Facebook monetization algorithms which truly leave it souless.

Motti Bembaron's picture

A few years ago when I started on FB I was amazed at the rate the menus kept changing and how rapidly a user lost their control on how to post or share. Today I have a FB page that I haven't posted in years. Same for Instagram (about a year since I posted). No Twitter or anything else.

Refrac Sean's picture

To me it seems like the same problem with any social media account: once you have more than around 40 followers/following it becomes a constant onslaught of usually worthless daily drivel.
Either don't follow or give your account out or mercilessly cut those who insist on posting uninteresting crud and keep your flow of high quality content only. Or delete FB, IG, etc and only use Vero... Same result 😆

Studio 403's picture

Sad story. Always follow the money I was told early on. One of the saddest aspects of capitalism is greed and the bottom line. The casualty being organic and "family oriented" and friendly. the "thing" becomes the focus and not the folks who work for the "monster" in the room. In my lifetime I see this repeated and repeated. I know socialism looks good at first, but always finish the race in totalitarian, and authoritarian regimes. Self-governance and a healthy structure for growth

If you find it on the internet, it is there for someone to make money. And unless you created it, it likely is not you who will be making the money. If you don't understand the concept, then welcome to the United States of America born a republic, morphed by capitalism. Is it really that much of a surprise that Facebook, or even the original Instagram crew did this to make money? The only thing that surprises me anymore is when people think that it was created to serve you without any cost whatsoever to you. That being said, when sites are new they have to be clean and happy and non-pushy to get you in and hooked. But once you are, they monetize. That's the business model. Don't like it, get off the internet, because every site that exists is here to make someone money, and even the most altruistic organizations must at least break even with their web presence through ads and kick-backs from sponsored content, etc. I'm sure Ms Richardson is weeping into her piles of cash, "What hath I wrought?" *sigh*

Looking at Instagram these days creates more eye rolls than smiles.

I have only recently joined Instagram. I followed a pretty fair number of account pretty quickly. But the number of ads I'm seeing is still remarkable. Opening the app just now, I saw five actual posts, then a sponsored post, then four actual posts, and then a sponsored post.

Just shy of 20% of what I see is an ad? "Algorithmic, numbers-driven behemoth " sounds like a pretty good description to me.

Michael Ciurleo's picture

Make sure the app has no access to your mic. I was joking with my brother about getting him a stair chair lift for his lazy ass. Next day all I see is stair chair lift ads everywhere.

Ryan Burleson's picture

It’s a horrible app with a horrible culture of “follow me I’m famous” but they aren’t and usually broke as a joke. Will be waiting for all the stories of insta famous people in future and how they were living off false hope due to a very small percentage of people making real money from it. Instadesperate

Mark Dunsmuir's picture

I was just talking about this the other day. The celebrity of the instafamous is based almost solely on their ability to endorse. I can't wait for CRTC or the US counterpart to shut down this advertising by other means.

Felix Wu's picture

I could totally live without it.

Jordan McChesney's picture

While I'll be the first to admit it's not perfect, and I don't spend a lot of time on it, can I at least praise that they have done an amazing job curating my feed to show me pictures I actually want to see, and not show me photos I don't want to see. (my lukewarm defence)

On that note Fstoppers, can I get a curated feed on the community tab so I can see photos I like from people who aren't already getting attention and not see photos I have no interest in?

As a fashion photographer, I used it extensively to post work, communicate with and book models and land new customers and accounts. Yet, I closed my account when I realized that the 'Followers' counter stopped working. Not that I had thousands of followers (4,200's) but, I was getting a couple dozen followers every couple of days and the counter stopped working. Every time I saw a new follower following me, I realized the counter didn't move. And, we all know that Instagram is a numbers game. The more followers on your counter, the more business you attract. When it no longer works, time to delete the account. And, that's what I did.

Rob Mynard's picture

So what is the alternative if you want your work seen by possible clients? Flickr, Eyem, and 500px are just other photographers, Tumblr and snapchat are slowly dying. Instagram, and Pinterest still seem to be the only places that non-photographers go to look at photos.

I don't think anyone goes there to look for photos to buy.

Rob Mynard's picture

No but brides go there to look for wedding photographers.

Follow accounts that interest you and it's good. You're not forced to follow the crap accounts that just want to be famous.

Also, there are ads sure, but a flick of the thumb and you're past them.

I tried it for a couple of months, it was more of a chore than a pleasure. Now I only check it to keep up with what my daughter is up to.

Michael B. Stuart's picture

I remember early on it was considered a no-no to share photos taken with a DSLR. Times have most certainly changed.