Blog / 2021 / The Anti-Instagram Off-Facebook Update

March 16, 2021

It’s been four months since I canceled both FB and IG. That’s long enough for me to finally see that what felt at first like a hole in my day-to-day is actually a whole lot of room! Without the Zuckerverse taking up space in my mind, my imagination has been able to breathe again.

Surprisingly, I don’t miss the scrolling anymore.

When I first signed off for good, there were moments when I’d be gripped by a sudden need to “tend” Facebook and Instagram like some latter day Giga Pet. But after three months, I’d untrained my brain, and these days I don’t even scroll on Twitter or LinkedIn like I did right after I canceled the Zuckerverse.

Initially, I had a mini-depression.

It’s hard to untangle my post-deletion feelings from everything that the ongoing pandemic and Trump’s attack on the Capitol was making me feel. Still, I’m pretty sure that at least some of the boringness I describe in this vlog was a result of a kind of withdrawal. For over a decade, my community on Facebook was integral to my career, so it only makes sense that I would have developed an emotional dependency.

Ironically, I can finally see the Zuckerverse fully.

Did you know that because I don’t have an Instagram account, sometimes I’m not even allowed to look at people’s profiles? The only thing I can always see on IG are individual posts, and to do so I must have a direct link. In other words, because I can’t be tracked by Insta, my participation is hampered. What was once the wide open web has been segmented and app-ified as companies strive to own our attention as well as our demographic info.

Lately, I feel myself blossoming in private conversations.

My email inbox has never been more full and it is a beautiful thing! Over the years, I’d gotten so used to commenting publicly on friends’ posts that I started thinking of it as the same as a private interaction, but it’s not. Public conversations are always a little stilted. People speak differently to an audience of one than they do to a crowd, and I adore being that audience of one.

Gwenn Seemel wildlife painting process
painting process

My favorite instance of going private is with Sophie Kendall. Before I deleted, she was just some artist whose work I admired from afar, “liking” and commenting with fangirl fervor. Sometime in the month before I signed off, I messaged her, asking her if she had a mailing list so that I could continue following her work. She doesn’t really, but we started talking, and, much to my delight, we haven’t stopped!

All of which is to say that we may think we’re nurturing our relationships by talking with people on social media—and maybe we are in a small way—but it can never replace one-on-one interactions.

unlikely animal friendship art, squirrel monkey holding the face of a capybara, painting in acrylic on paper
Gwenn Seemel
acrylic and colored pencil on paper
6 x 7 inches

This unlikely pair celebrates my renewed love for private moments of kindness. As far as we know, squirrel monkeys and capybaras don’t interact in the wild, but their playful exchanges in captivity still make me happy—possibly because there’s a part of me that wonders if any animal, humans included, are ever really free.

Buy the orignal Sweetness painting for $100 plus shipping—see all currently available artworks. Prints and t-shirts and things with the image are in my print shop.

wildlife art acrylic painting by humanist artist Gwenn Seemel
detail of Sweetness

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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