Time Away from The ‘Gram + 5 Lessons Learned
I recently took a little ‘Instagram mandated’ break from the app … and I have a lot of thoughts and lessons to share.
First of all, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read my Dear Instagram article here. It explains everything. But, to quickly summarize – a few weeks ago, Instagram disabled my @ellebeelovely account for “violating their terms”. Something to do with counterfeit goods. I knew it was a mistake. I knew immediately that I’d either been hacked or flagged for something by mistake. But, what I didn’t realize was that I was about to embark on a 2+ week long journey to get my account back. And, a journey it was …
Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly) there are a lot of unexpected emotions that come with discovering that your Instagram account has been disabled. Annoyance came first. This was an inconvenience. But, that was quickly replaced by fear once I discovered how vague and convoluted it all is. Anger came too, as the injustice set in. I felt protective of my account. I’d worked hard on it. It was where I was growing my business. In an instance, it had all vanished. I felt used – taken advantage of. Expendable. Grief sank in. Then, frustration, as days turned into weeks and it remained impossible to get in touch with an actual person in the odd land of Meta.
But, alas, just as I’d begun to come to terms with the fact that @ellebeelovely and all of my content was gone forever … and less than 12 hours after posting the Dear Instagram letter (and tagging Insta on various other socials), they reactivated my account and sent me an email stating, “It looks like your account was disabled by mistake. Your account has been reactivated and you should now be able to log in. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”
Um. Okay. Thanks, I guess. Um. Yay?
I wanted to feel nothing but relief, but instead I had a whole mixed bag of feelings. Relief was there, along with happiness and elation. But, so was anger, frustration, annoyance, gratitude … and something else that I haven’t quite been able to place. A feeling unnamed that continues to sit just beneath the surface.
I needed a minute. Before I could celebrate the return of my account, I needed a minute (or a few hours or a few days) to sit with my feelings.
I had begun telling myself that it would all be okay. That I’d rise from the ashes and emerge new, shiny and better than ever. I had just started believing that it could actually be true. That it would be true.
For a little while now, I’d been toying with the idea of launching a new website (and NEW IG account) that would be specifically geared toward my design business … and this whole debacle lit a fire under my tush. It was time. Elle Bee Lovely would remain my Life + Style + Home blog, but I was ready to move forward and create an official business. I emailed my web guy. I created a new IG account (the business name is still TBD because I jumped the gun before I was actually ready (!) buuutttt for now you can find it at @blairhomeanddesign). I was even pondering an ellebeelovely2.0 (I wasn’t actually going to call it that).
Once the wheels had been set in motion, the reactivation of @ellebeelovely didn’t make me want to halt my other plans.
I’d move forward. I will move forward.
But, with caution. Lessons were learned.
Now, naturally, these lessons won’t all apply to everyone. But, in case they apply to you as much as they’ve applied to me, I’ll wanted share them here …
Lesson #1: Diversify. If you are a business or a creator, make sure that you aren’t putting all your eggs in the Instagram basket (or any one particular form of social media). If something can so easily disappear without notice or warning, then you need to ensure that you aren’t losing everything. Moving forward, I’ll be using my blog first and foremost … with socials being more of a tool pointing back to my own website/s.
Lesson #2: Back up your Instagram content. I didn’t even know this was a thing that could be done! Why? How? This is an awesome feature (that I had no idea existed) that will give you so much more peace of mind in the event that your account ever ends up being disabled or deactivated or hacked. This in-app tool allows you the ability to download an entire backup of your account. If only I had known about this BEFORE my account had been turned off. I would have felt a lot more peace knowing that I still had a back-up of my content, follower data, DMs, etc.
~How To Back-Up Your Instagram Data~
- Go to your IG profile and click on the Menu (the 3 lines at the top right)
- Click on “Your Activity”
- Scroll down to the last option available and click “Download your information”
- It will ask you for your email address and IG password
- Click “Done”
- Wait – IG will email you a link to a file containing your photos, comments, profile info, etc. Apparently this can take up to 30 days. I JUST went through this process and it only took two days before I received an email with the files.
- Once you receive the link, it should be available for a certain number of days (they gave me 4 days) before it will expire, so don’t wait to complete the download. Expect a large file or files. You may want to consider using Dropbox if you don’t want to take up as much space on your computer.
- Repeat this process every couple of months.
Lesson #3: Create a newsletter. I mean, man, if only I’d have already moved forward with this instead of procrastinating on something that I knew was a smart move! 🤦🏻♀️ A newsletter (plus a full subscriber list) would have given me direct access to my readers and followers. Instead of simply vanishing, I would be able to show up in inboxes and fill everyone in on what was happening and why my account wasn’t showing up on IG anymore. This goes hand in hand with Lesson #1.
Lesson #4: Hold it loosely. Hold it all loosely. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just not all that important. Yes, to me, my account is important. Yes, my work is here. Yes, I was hurt by the loss of this account. But, I know now that I was gripping it all too tightly. Is it true that the one who cares the least is in control? I don’t know, but I do know that Instagram cares far, far less about me than I care about it. I must loosen my grip. I must put plans in place (like following through with each lesson mentioned above) that will allow me to breathe easier in the event that my account were to disappear again. It can all go away so quickly. Make sure you minimize the pain. Also, recognize it for what it is – a social media platform. Not your life.
Lesson #5: Use Instagram with intention. Create more, consume less. Slow the scroll. Look up. It took me almost the entirety of 2+ weeks that I was off of IG before I stop reaching for my phone. Before I stopped yearning to mindlessly scroll. It had become a habit so engrained, I felt lost without it. I felt like someone had broken up with me. That was for many reasons of course, but I still missed it. I was embarrassed by this realization. This is sad! This felt like a problem. Ugh. I certainly don’t want to be addicted to my phone and/or an app.
Now, I’ve had my account back for a few days and I’m easing back in slower than I thought I would. I had so much to share, yet the time away dulled the urge to reach for my phone. It’s brought me to a place that feels quieter and more introspective. I’m excited to see what’s next for Elle Bee Lovely and for Blair Home (or whatever name we land on), but for today, for tomorrow, I’m not going to rush. One thoughtful step at a time.