Let's Be Real: Instagram's Algorithm Is Affecting Us All

Wake up, crack your eyes open, open the app. Scroll, like, scroll, like, comment. Open up Stories, watch, watch, tap, watch, tap, tap. Repeat. Does this sound at all familiar? Call me crazy, but I find myself opening up Instagram so frequently that I start to get restless if I’m not checking in on my feed every hour or two. That’s how ingrained the app has become in my everyday routine. After speaking with friends and colleagues, though, I know that I’m not alone.

So, after Instagram apparently reprogrammed its algorithm over a month ago, it was hard to ignore what had changed. I noticed a drastic difference in the chronology of my feed, seeing a photo posted 20 minutes ago right after one posted over 24 hours ago. What’s more, I began noticing the same handful of accounts showing up first in my Instagram Stories queue. For a casual user like myself (I occasionally source imagery for my stories there, but otherwise, I just go on for personal interest), this was mildly concerning but not totally upsetting.

But then I started to wonder: If this is affecting my daily experience with the app as a casual user, how is it affecting those whose careers are much more intimately tied up with the success of their account? To get a better sense of how deep the issue ran, I decided to have self-employed creative professionals like influencers, photographers, graphic designers (in other words, those with a K in their follower count) weigh in.

Among all four of the women we spoke to, one theme rose above: For Instagram, an app that’s becoming heavily ingrained in our day-to-day life, it’s all about building communities and making lasting connections for those with the most to lose from a shift in its algorithm.