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Does this Instagram post spark joy?
It’s a new year, which means a lot of people have spent the last few weeks making changes to their lives. Or attempting to make changes. Since Netflix’s Tidying Up With Marie Kondo dropped on Jan. 1, people have been furiously organizing their homes and sharing the evidence of their neatly-folded socks and pants on Twitter and Instagram. I felt left out. My home is as organized as it can be for a small one-bedroom apartment. However, I did see an opportunity to use Marie Kondo’s method of keeping objects that “spark joy” on something else in my life: my social media accounts.
Social media has felt pretty bleak for me for a while. I’ve never been one to post very often on social media, but I do have a pretty active presence. Last year, I stopped posting as often on Instagram. Everything started to feel so contrived and overwhelming. I was struggling to figure out how I wanted to present myself and frustrated that I cared at all. While I was spending probably hours a day looking at memes on Instagram, I wasn’t posting about the things I was doing and who I was doing them with. Meanwhile, on Twitter, everything seemed very bad. So I came up with a plan to clean up my social accounts. I wanted Twitter, which I need to use for work, to feel less soul-sucking. On Instagram, I wanted to have more fun. Once I established clear goals, I started cleaning up.
A joyful grid
When I opened my Instagram profile, I started at the beginning of my 759 posts. It’s funny to see how I used Instagram when I started my account nine years ago. I would post random photos with dramatic filters. I went all the way back to my very first post on Instagram from Dec. 26, 2010. It was a picture of my parent’s house covered in snow. It was a nice memory and it was one that sparked joy, so I kept it.
As a continued to scroll, I saw photos of friends I don’t talk to anymore, memories I’d forgotten, and food I’m glad I can remember eating. I also noticed the shift in the way I used Instagram. At first, it was random. Then I started to curate it. I remember posting some photos because I wanted people to see what I was doing. It was all performative. I deleted those posts because the memories sparked no joy at all. As I got closer to the present on my page, I noticed that I was only posting photos of actual good times. When I made it to the end, I had 692 posts left. I deleted sixty-seven photos, and I feel much more joy looking at my grid now.
After I cleaned up my Instagram page, I cleaned up my feed. I went through all 956 people I was following. I unfollowed Instagram models who made me feel bad about my body, fitness models who promote unrealistic diets, celebrities who post more selfies and flat tummy tea than anything else, and people from high school who tried to sell me things. Going through the nearly 1,000 people I followed, I noticed phases I had. The phase of being obsessed with celebrities, the one with a fascination with influencers, the time when I started to love comedians and the endless meme accounts I had to follow because they were private and I couldn’t see what a friend was sending me. After scouring through people I follow, I ended up cutting my following nearly in half. When I scroll through my feed, I feel much better about it. I now follow 589 accounts, all of which spark some sort of joy. Most of them are meme accounts. But I also follow my friends, my favorite celebrities, and influencers who aren’t full of shit.
Goodbye, embarrassing tweets
The next day, I turned to Twitter. I started with the people I follow because that’s where I feel the most dread. I followed 1,020 people, which is way too many. I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to go through and unfollow people in the 10 years I’ve had a Twitter account, and it showed. The first account I followed was the Jonas Brothers. Ten years ago, I was a freshman in high school and made an account just to be sure I didn’t miss anything from my favorite boy band. While they certainly sparked joy in my 15-year-old fangirl heart, the band no longer brings me joy, so I unfollowed the account. I continued this process, mulling through the remaining accounts. I made it out the other end following 687 people. All of which at least bring me information, if not joy. Going through my own tweets is hard because Twitter doesn’t actually let you see any more than 3,200 tweets. I had 5,729 tweets before I started. I still went back through my last 3,200 tweets. I noticed that I retweet much more than I tweet. I didn’t get rid of many tweets because most of my own tweets did spark joy. But I deleted several tweets that were so embarrassing that I couldn’t even finish reading them. I now have 5,702 tweets.
Decluttering my social accounts feels much better than I ever anticipated. Many of us live on the internet. Our accounts can get messy and feel unliveable, so I think it’s important to clean them up every once in a while. I’ve felt a lot better about being on social media than I have in a long time, and I have Marie Kondo to thank for it.
Gabrielle Sorto is an Atlanta-based freelance writer covering culture, lifestyle, and news. Her work has appeared in CNN, Teen Vogue, INSIDER, and Vice. She can usually be found writing with an overpriced coffee in hand or hanging out with her dog, Rihanna, who is named after exactly who you think.