Why I Am Happier After Deleting My Instagram

May 16, 2017 is the day I deleted my Instagram.

Why I Am Anti-Instagram

1. Why you shouldn’t care about what others care about you

Woman with cross neck tattoo. Berlin, 2017
Woman with cross neck tattoo. Berlin, 2017

For my entire life, I’ve always ‘crowd-sourced my self-esteem‘ — meaning, I got my self-esteem from what others thought of me, rather than caring what I thought about myself.

From a philosophical standpoint, to judge your self-esteem from the opinions of others is bad. Why?

You don’t have 100% control of what others think of you.

Even if you are Gandhi or the most selfless person in the world, there will always be someone out there who hates/doesn’t like you.

You can be a musical genius like Jimi Hendrix, but still find someone to dislike your work or music.

You can be the world’s best photographer, but still — it is impossible to have 100% of photographers love your work.

The solution:

Focus on making photos that impress you — you have 100% control over this.


2. Who is Instagram good for?

I think Instagram has been very positive for photographers who cannot afford their own photography website, or for photographers who are starting off, wanting feedback on their photos. Instagram is certainly good that it has democratized photography to the masses.

The problem with Instagram: it has totally fucked up the self-esteem of photographers and people.

Solution: Start your own photography website/blog

3. Do you ‘quantify’ your self-worth through your like numbers?

For example, if you upload a photo, and you don’t get a lot of likes on the photo — how do you feel?

Many of us feel disappointed, sad, or a bit shitty.

Even for me, at the height of my Instagram followers (around 60,000) — I was used to getting ~2,000 likes a photo. If I (only) got 1,000 likes on a photo, I would feel crappy. Why? I was comparing myself based on the past numbers I had in the past. Kind of how it is worse to be worth $100 million dollars, and lose $99 million (to “only” be left with $1 million) when compared to a beggar who goes from $0 to $1 million dollars.

Human psychological bias: “anchoring” — we only feel our happiness in relation to our past selves.

4. We are addicted to the dopamine rush.

When you upload a photo, and you get likes, you get a hit of dopamine — the ‘feel good’ hormone in your mind.

Honestly, Instagram is more addictive than crack cocaine.

If we don’t get our daily fix of likes, we will have withdrawn symptoms.


Being off Instagram for 6 months+, I feel like a drug addict, who feels alive after rehab.

I no longer care about what others think of my photos — now I only care about what I think of my own photos.

Also, I’ve been more innovative with the ways I’ve been sharing my photos (with my photo diaries on this blog), as well as creating a new portfolio page on this site.

6. Focus on photo-stories

Being off Instagram has helped me focus more on strings of photos, photo-stories, and photo-series, than just focusing on the single image, to maximize likes.

Hanoi rooftop bar / black and white street photograph, 2016
Hanoi rooftop bar / black and white street photograph, 2016

This means, I don’t care too much about the single, individual photo. To me, I see photography more like a movie director — I want my photos to have a flow, a narrative, and vibe.

Tree. Hanoi, 2017
Tree. Hanoi, 2017

If you have felt negative pressures or stress from Instagram, I recommend you to delete your Instagram. I think almost all photographers will benefit creatively by getting rid of their Instagram.

7. I still feel FOMO

Of course, even now not having an Instagram anymore — I feel like I am missing out. I hear all these other photographers getting these cool opportunities, sponsorships, or business from Instagram– and I still feel remaining pangs of ‘FOMO‘ (fear of missing out).

8. Personal benefits of deleting my Instagram

ERIC KIM EYE by Cindy Nguyen / Hanoi, 2017
ERIC KIM EYE by Cindy Nguyen / Hanoi, 2017

But all things considered, deleting my Instagram has:

  1. Improved my self-esteem as a photographer — I no longer judge my self-value as a photographer based on how many likes or followers I have.
  2. Less envy/jealousy of other photographers: I no longer have a follower count to compare myself with other photographers on Instagram.
  3. Helped me innovate ways to publish/share my photos: Sharing photos on Instagram and treating it as a portfolio is the easy way. Rather, I’ve been publishing more of my work in HAPTIC BOOKS — like in LEARN FROM THE MASTERS, or publishing my photos in my free ebooks.

Other cool ways Cindy has published my work with HAPTICPRESS:

Conclusion: Ignore me.

ERIC KIM SELFIE: White strip. Prague, 2017
ERIC KIM SELFIE: White strip. Prague, 2017

Of course, I’m just sharing my personal experiences. My experiences are not universal — and only work for me.

Ultimately, ignore me, and just listen to yourself.

But the reason I made this post:

If you are considering to delete your Instagram but feel afraid of somehow missing out — just have faith. ERIC KIM did it — so can you.



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