Last week, I made the decision to uninstall my Instagram.
I haven’t outright deleted it, because the name is reserved for my business and because I don’t want extreme restrictions to tempt me to fall back into it. But I removed the app, made a notice to my following that I was leaving for a bit, and have avoided the temptation to check it via other means.
While I started this particular Instagram as a spiritual-focused account, it eventually morphed into a Bookstagram account. I actually had a Bookstagram prior to this with my original account, and have been dipping my toes in that community for over six years now. It was once a place to merely look at beautiful photos of bookshelves while simultaneously being tempted into adding more books to your To Be Read pile.
It has since morphed into something absolutely nauseating and toxic, and I left for these reasons:
- There are people in the Bookstagram community who do not follow accounts but literally watch them obsessively, hoping to catch them posting or saying something that they deem to be wrong.
They then screenshot or share this, without tagging the original poster, and shame them, either by saying, “I can’t believe my followers liked this post. It’s problematic because of xyz. Unfollow me if you did so because you’re pathetic.” or, “This person is a TERF, unfollow me if you follow them because I don’t want your TERF loving ass on my feed.” or, “Look at this problematic book that this person posted, if you follow them you can die.”
These are not exaggerations. The people who do this are literally that hostile. The irony of trying to create a “less problematic world” by creating more drama is not lost on me, but it is lost on many, who read these messages and fearfully comply with the stalker/bully.
They literally spend their days waiting, watching, for an account (usually with a bigger following than them), only to shame them for what they deem to be offensive/incorrect/inappropriate. Imagine having that kind of time, that kind of energy? You could be posting about books, but you are literally looking for accounts to destroy? How exhausting.
- People are incapable of separating art from the artist, and have something to say about what everyone else is reading. The new thing is to call posting about specific authors, like JK Rowling for example, a “red flag” for the bookstagram community. No one can just focus on their own bookshelves and their own giant TBR pile, they have to make a (negative) comment about what everyone else is reading. They truly scroll through bookstagram tags, hoping to find a photo to criticize.
Bookstagram comments are no longer positive and uplifting, encouraging and joyful, they are negative and filled with judgement because everyone feels they have a right to criticize everyone else. No one seems to focus on their self-betterment and growth but seem to be the masters of dictating everyone else’s betterment “as readers”.
- Wokestagram is nauseating. I simply could not deal with everyone feeling as though their emotional reaction to someone’s post/account/EXISTENCE was reason enough to cancel/boycott/destroy a person’s life. People are incapable of using logical reasoning and instead are relying on emotional triggers as validity and facts. Just because it personally upset you does not actually mean this person is a danger to society.
On that note, people are allowed to have differing opinions, different political stances, and different religious beliefs and still be a human who deserves compassion and kindness. For some reason, the woke community wants robots who only think in a linear, hyper-politicized manner – what a boring world that would be.
- Believe it or not, reading a book is not a political act. It can be a completely passive escape. And you don’t need to just read books that align with your viewpoint or political opinions; in fact, you become far more wise when you open up your blinders and learn about how others think across the spectrum.
- Bookstagram was no longer about sharing pretty pictures and discussing opinions about books, it became a space focused on dramatics, growing followers through playing the victim and virtue signaling, and inauthentic people.
Even those who appear to “stand up to the bully” were quick to crumble to the opinions of the mob if they feared repercussions on their follower count, or avoided posting books they actually loved if they knew it would ruffle feathers. Pathetic.
- In general, Instagram seems to generate feeds in a way that exposes you to horrible content; content that makes you sad, angry, or scared. I was no longer opening my Instagram and seeing beautiful photos, I was seeing antisemitism, discrimination, cruelty to friends in the community, rage-filled posts, etc. It is not a happy place, by any means. And yet we all sit with it, scrolling mindlessly, and allow ourselves to induce the energy of this space.
Finally, I just wanted to spend more time reading. Instead of grabbing the phone when I was bored, I wanted to grab my books again. Even though I like taking artsy photos and I liked the creativity that space allowed me, as well as enjoying the perks of being a micro-bookstagram influencer (such as free books), the pain of the space and the toxicity of the people outweighs the perks and benefits.
I’m not sure how long I’ll stay out of this space, and I’m not sure if I’ll anonymously set up a new space where I don’t share my face so people can’t form an opinion about me as a person, but for the time being, it’s been great to get rid of it and I am truly far happier.
It also helps that my husband has quit smoking, so I feel like I’m able to support him by partnering him on this addiction journey (though mine is clearly far easier to combat). It gives me another excuse to stay away.
A few weeks before leaving, I started a bookish/fandom YouTube, so I’ll continue to post there. And maybe I’ll start writing here again. Time will tell!
Have you witnessed the toxicity of Bookstagram lately? Share your comments below; I’m interested to hear your own experiences.