I shared yesterday that I’d be leaving Instagram for good which means that I will not be logging in, checking up on people in “stealth” mode, or uploading any new images for public consumption.

(The reason has been naturally accelerated by the Instagram acquisition by Facebook and also reinforced by the recent issues surrounding commercialization of user’s content.)

I’ll be keeping my account handle (for security reasons) but I’ll be turning it all to private and deleting all my 1,195 photos so that the near 2,000 people that were following me won’t have much to do when they head over to my profile. In fact, I won’t have any followers when I’m done (read more about how I did this at the bottom of the post).

A number of you have asked already why and if I’ll be using some other service instead and I’ll be brief:

1. My Followers

There is a war that’s been raging for a long time, just below the surface, in regards to all the social media and networking sites that I use, daily. It’s one where there is really no clear winner and no easy way to find a healthy cease-fire either.

It’s simply the fact that I have felt an increasing pressure to create content for not just myself and my own documentation/archiving needs but for the ever-increasing masses of people who find it incredibly easy to just hit the “Follow” button.

I’d find myself saying something like this in my brain:

Oh, this would be something good to share to my followers. Let me snap this and share this with them.

Of course it wouldn’t actually be that wordy but the point is that my chief motivation would be to the many people following me instead of for my own needs. What would happen is that I’d be distracted and not in the moment – in fact, I’ve felt that life has been passing me by as a result of my attempts to capture it all for others!

It doesn’t happen all the time but it has happened enough for me to want to do away with it entirely. My daughters do not care about my followers but they see me caring about them far too much. That’s not fair to them and it’s not healthy.

2. It’s Personal

My wife and I have discussed in length what I can and cannot post online, both on social networks and on my blog. We’ve agreed to our established boundaries and I have not broken them.

But that doesn’t mean that we both haven’t felt a little tension when it comes to the sheer quantity of information that’s being publicly shared. She has felt, at times, that it’s too much. I’ve finally come around to the point where I agree.

It’s important that I share my life with others – I believe that to be a fundamental part of being human. Not all of it to all people, but selectively. I need to keep that which is personal to those that have true access to that which is really personal and leave the others in various shades of gray.

I just simply don’t have to post as much and Instagram is one way to quickly reduce that significantly.

3. Even Greater Focus

I need to focus more than ever on the things that matter the most, my role as a husband, father, and as a partner in the businesses that I manage and oversee.

I do not know what the future holds but what I do know is that it will require of me even greater levels of responsibility. What a privilege and honor! A natural consequence of greater levels of responsibility is greater amounts of time, even if it’s fewer things.

In addition, I must allow even more margin to be created in my life so that I can say ‘Yes’ with wisdom to the new possibilities and opportunities that arise. I have margin today but I need more of it. Much more.

Something that seems so trivial as removing Instagram from my daily activities is a step in that direction. As they say, a house is built one brick at a time. Instagram is simply another brick of many (a bad brick) that needs to be removed so that I can add the right ones instead.


4. Moving On

My plans right now is that I will not find a replacement for Instagram. I will continue to take pictures (hundreds a week) but I will not be putting them online publicly as often as I once did.

Here are a few things that I have done though:

  1. Exported 100% of my images via Instaport. What an incredible service! I then backed up everything via my nifty data backup solution.
  2. Migrated all images to Path, another image app but that is fundamentally different. When I say “fundamentally different” I really mean that. I love their philosophy and their UI is to die for. But the purpose is to provide a linear way for myself to catalogue my images and experiences. I’ve had an account for a long, long time. It’s sad to see that most people don’t “get” what Path is all about as I’ve had to reject 100′s of “friend requests.” Sigh. I’m not sure if I’ll commit to this long-term but I’ll experiment.
  3. The only way to delete all your pictures forever is to delete your account (via your profile settings via your web browser). But if you want to retain your account name (so that others don’t take it) you need to change your username first to something else, then delete your account, and then sign up again with the username you want to retain. So what I did was I changed “Saddington” to “Saddington2″ and then deleted the account. Then, I signed up for a new account with “Saddington.” Get it? Got it. Good.

I’ve felt an incredibly amount of peace with my decision and I know it’s the right one. I share these thoughts not so that I might find a few people to follow me but to share with you my experience and perspective.

For those that use and love Instagram, keep on keeping on! Enjoy.

  • Travis Doecke

    I’ve struggled with the public and private amount of sharing for a while. Thanks for painting a clear picture about the ‘why’ behind your decision. Helps a lot. PS – thanks for Standard Theme as well. I love it!

    • John Saddington

      sure thing travis!

  • Nathan Grey

    You seem to be pulling back a lot lately, or at least drawing a tighter focus. That is cool and I understand setting aside more time for family.

    I just hope that tentblogger isn’t going anywhere. Your blog has been a great font of nformation for me. One that I greatly appreciate.

  • Joseph Feliciano (@OXVO)

    I agree with Nathan. As a new reader who has been recently gaining inspiration from Tent Blogger, 8Bit, Yourself in general, it’d be a drag to see a cut down on everything. Much respect.

  • John

    I echo Joseph and Nathan. I know how it is to focus and I have done it well sometimes and I have also thinned things down too much at times as well. I know you have put a lot of thought to this process. Just remember that as we let the light shine we never know how far or in what way it actually impacts the world. For me Instagram and Facebook have had direct influence beyond what I first perceived. And God has used even the silliest posts to spread his character. Just a thought.

  • James Dibben

    You are the second person in the last few months who has written about this.

    I can see how easy it is get too caught up in posting images that you don’t remain in the moment.

    I’m new to instagram and posts like this remind me to temper my enthusiasm.

  • Cindy Anderson

    Yea, you! Family is first. Actually, I love photography, photos, and I do have an account with instagram, but I have found to NOT too fulfilling. Others may love it but me, not so much…. Enjoy you decision to go back to your life.

  • Chanté

    Kudos to you, for being true to you. I am reading a book called, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” and while it’s definitely a purely business focus; I can see these Disciplines being exhibited in your personal life. The more you try to accomplish, the more ALL things suffer, and then NOTHING gets accomplished.

  • Dave ©

    Kudos for forward progress that doesn’t exactly look like forward progress! I think there is a really great lesson buried deep within your journey and many of ours as well. Be careful what you get yourself into…because sometimes it’s pretty difficult to get yourself out of it.

    Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to click the “delete account” button and move on. But you’ll never get all that time back.

    I’m learning to say “No” far more than I have in the past. It’s liberating. It’s working, too, because I have much more time for the few things that are really important to me.

  • Stephanie @ Hugs, Kisses and Snot

    I find it interesting how Instagram has morphed into a social media/sharing/following platform. I LOVE Instagram but I’ve always used it for my own personal enjoyment and don’t follow and am not followed (that I know of) by anybody. I will use it now and then to post cool pics but see sharing more as a novelty. I mean seriously, who has time to follow all these different social media sites? When do they live life or get any work done if they are constantly updating, tweeting, checking up on their “friends”, etc.? Between real life, my blog and staying up to date on current events and sites I actually enjoy, I just don’t have time for all this other noise.
    Good for you for prioritizing.

  • Christopher

    It’s just because Facebook acquired it, isn’t it? ;)

    To me, Instagram offers a wonderful opportunity to create a deeper connections with readers … a personal connection. Because it’s focused on sharing images, publishers across a variety of niches have jumped on — not to share links to their latest post (like we see so so so so much across the rest of the social landscape), but to share moments of their personal life.

    Contrary to the notion that Twitter isn’t all about sharing what you ate for lunch, it actually is. That’s what people like seeing every now and then.

    I think Instagram is a great place to share the slice of life content.

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

  • Jordan

    It’s kind of moot now, but for anyone else who is considering this, the new terms only apply to photos posted after the change went into effect (and in order to “consent” you have to upload something new). Nothing submitted prior is retroactively covered by the new policy, so you can keep all your old photos on Instagram and simply stop using it without worries that your photos will be used against your wishes.

  • Jorge Silvestrini

    John, I also feel overwhelmed sometimes about posting to all the sites… Some weeks I’m awesome on tweeter, then forget about Facebook and come back to Facebook but forget about tweeter… Then instagram, then back on tweeter… You get it!

    I’ve seen Path before and will check it out this week! Thanks for the awesome information you always share… This year started for me “deleting” things from my plate and just having 3 main things I am dedicating 80% of my time…