On Friday I got a notification when opening the app that my Instagram account had been disabled, supposedly for violating their terms.
After 24 hours I was able to fill out a form to request a review of the ban. I know for certain that nothing I post would have violated any rules, so it must have been disabled as a mistake.
The form to fill out asked if I believe my account was deleted by my mistake and then if my account was used to represent a business, product or service, so I click no. It then asks for a full name, my username, email address and country of residence.
After filling this out, it tells me my Instagram username doesn’t exist. Well, maybe that’s because it was disabled for no reason? Does this mean it’s just been permanently deleted already?
This is where support ended. Instagram is a behemoth of a company, so you’d think they’d have some non-robotic customer support options. I of course realize that with over 1 billion people using the app each month there’s no way they’d be able to adequately address the infinite requests for service they likely receive, but it would sure be nice if I had some sort of recourse here beyond the extremely limited options I’ve found.
Pictures of my dog, family, friends, artwork and a smattering of memes make up the majority of what I post on this app. It basically serves as a digital scrapbook and the hundreds of memories I’ve posted exist only there and I am truly sad to lose them. I feel foolish to not have backed them up in some more substantial way.
I’ve grown up with the internet and social media. I got my Facebook account in 2007 and had Nexopia and Myspace — for my band — before that.
More and more research and films like the Social Dilemma are coming out that show just how addicting social media platforms are and how bad they can be for us. I’ve been wanting to take a break from Instagram, the main driver for me to open my phone and begin scrolling, for a while now. It’s an addiction that’s been made worse by COVID.
My daily screen time ranges from three to five hours, which is just insane to think about. So much wasted time. These apps know how to draw you in and keep you there, and unfortunately, a lot of it comes from preying less upon your emotions like joy and love, and more upon things like disgust and outrage. Hate clicking, doom scrolling, whatever you want to call it, it’s simply not good for you.
It’s been nice to have a break. After reflexively picking up my phone a few times and remembering my account was gone and how much I despise browsing Facebook, the reflex diminished. It’s been a great lesson in impulse control.
It also appears that I am not the only one afflicted by this problem — #instagramdisabled is trending on Twitter and there’s lots of people taking to Reddit saying their accounts have been disabled without explanation and are looking for answers.
Many people, unlike myself, actually used their Instagram account for their businesses. Many have put their own money into their accounts and have spent years growing their following, learning how to use the app to promote themselves, building up an online portfolio and now they’ve lost everything.
In posts I’ve seen about this issue there’s lots of sardonic comments about influencers being out of work and sarcastically saying what a great loss this is, but the thing is this app is for some people a big part of their livelihood, and for others like myself, it’s a digital record of the last seven years. It is a loss and the fact that there’s no reason for it compounds the frustration.
My final thoughts are that if no solutions are offered and my account is really gone I will lament the loss of all those memories and never use the platform again. Perhaps this will motivate me to take more meaningful photos, print them off and make photo albums. Go analogue with my nostalgia.
If I do get it back I will try to use this as a lesson that Instagram is not a need, nor is it a reliable means of keeping track of my important memories. It is a gigantic nebulous entity that cares not for my memories. It cares about me as a product, and they’re inundated to the point of not bothering to get me back at this point.
If I get my account back I will remember how good it felt to have a break in my addiction to the app and try and implement some better self control, but maybe I’ll just sink into an even deeper addiction than before.