Why I am (mostly) leaving Social Media

So…. the day has finally arrived. I‘m officially – mostly – leaving social media in a professional capacity. By which I mean Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. But what does “mostly leaving” mean? Well, I am definitely leaving twitter, and my professional facebook account has already been deleted. I will be absent from instagram for the most part. But instagram is the only platform where I actually have active connections to other professionals, so I’ll be around. Lurking. Maybe posting once in a while. But that will look more like an “online once a week” thing.  I am on Mastodon, a much more relaxed and chill version of twitter without the capitalism and hustle culture, so feel free to say hi to me there! 

But ultimately, this is a decision that’s been very long in the making, and Elon Musk‘s bid to buy twitter was the catalyst for it to finally happen. I don‘t know how this whole deal is developing and whether it will even go through, but I honestly don‘t care. It‘s just one reason of many, and only a jumping off board to finally take the plunge.

But what are my reasons for leaving?

I‘ve been on the internet since I was a kid. Back in those days when you spent hours on sites with silly little flash games and everybody had a website with an repeating animated pattern as a background. Of coure hosted by GeoCities.

I‘ve been on forums, fan-pages, message-boards, deviantart, livejournal, tumblr and finally on twitter, instagram and facebook. I‘ve seen the internet go through many changes, and I really enjoyed the new wave of „social media“ at first. It was a great way to find interesting and talented artists, learn about important social issues, and also have a way to show your own work to a large audience. And I did manage to get quite a bit of work through twitter and instagram. Hell, my biggest achievement yet – the 3 graphic novels set in the Lumberjanes-world – only happened because somebody over at BOOM!Studios happened to see my work on twitter and liked it.

But that big job happened four years ago. And social media changed a lot in those four years. For me it’s like the spaces where I once felt connected and part of a community became incredibly lonely and distant over the years. That whatever I posted, there were very few people who cared to even acknowledge it. Whatever work I posted, nobody really saw it. And I too didn‘t see what others were doing, I didn‘t really engage with their work or their stories. Just with this noise of social media content that doesn’t have any real value or meaning. 

By now, after being utterly disillusioned by it, I truly believe social media – Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – are meant to work like that. Are built to work like that. The goal is not to connect people, to help people grow a community or an audience. These platforms are supposed to keep you on their website, scrolling as long as possible. The people behind them use every little trick they can get away with to make sure you do not close that app or window. 

Instagram doesn‘t have a chronological timeline, for instance. When you post something, there are varying factors that decide if your post will even show up on your follower‘s timeline. The initial likes for examples, or how often a follower has visited your account and liked your posts before. Not to mention they completely pivoted away from being a platform to share photos, and heavily push their reels as a competitor to TikTok. The platform is designed to keep you scrolling and scrolling and scrolling, so you might, hopefully, land on a nugget of good content that gives you enough incentive to continue scrolling.

Twitter‘s timeline isn‘t chronological by default either. You can change it to be chronological, but by default it displays recommended tweets based on the accounts and topics that you are interested in or actively follow. Oh, and of course promoted tweets. So you often end up seeing more tweets from accounts you don’t even follow or interact with than the accounts you actually follow. Which in turn of course increases the time you spent on Twitter trying to see posts from the people you do actively follow. 

But what happens if you fall through the cracks? If the algorithms that keep users engaged bury your work beneath an endless sea of content? If you don’t get hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets on every single one of your posts? 

Well, it‘s really hard to fight your way back to being seen again. Especially for anybody whose job it isn’t to create social media content. There is a reason why that’s an actual full-time job. 

With how social media works now, artists are made to feel entirely unwelcome. Unless you already have an incredibly huge following that you accumulated BEFORE the changes to the algorithms, or actively post every day, your chances of actually having your art seen and consistently growing an audience are incredibly slim. 

Your work will be swallowed up by a system that is stacked against you. We’re at a point where it’s so bad that even the people who follow you might never see your posts. Because they get hidden away. Because you didn’t fullfill some requirement or other of the algorithm.

But since it’s impossible to go back in time to build up an audience pre-toxic social media algorithms, you only have one option as an artist to have your work seen. 

Posting daily.

But having to be creative every single day? That’s exhausting. And absolutely unrealistic for artists. You are basically setting yourself up for burnout. Not to mention that a lot of us rely on the income of commissions or freelance work for projects that often don’t allow us to post any art for weeks or even months on end. Often we have to spend all of our creative energy and time on said paid work, and it leaves us too exhausted to do the job of a social media content creator as well.

Yes, there are some artists that do manage. Usually they have settled into a specific niche and are able to produce content quite quickly on a regular basis. But it shouldn’t be a requirement. It shouldn’t be expected of artists to work this way and this way only to find an audience or recognition for their work. 

However, that’s not the only reason I feel artists are unwelcome on social media nowadays. The way we consume the content on these platforms is entirely ill-suited for the kind of work a lot of artists produce, as I mentioned above. – Or it forces us to produce a certain kind of work that fits this consumer-behavior. Work we do not necessarily want to make, but are forced to, so we can beat the algorithm.

The consumer-behaviour I’m talking about is the endless scrolling. If you are anything like I was when I last used social media, you are always just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling through your feed. Maybe you stop for a quick two or three seconds to look at a nice piece of art. Maybe you leave a like, very rarely you retweet/share it in your stories or even comment, but usually, you just keep on scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. And I don‘t know about you, but that just really bums me out. 

A lot of the time artists spend hours, days, sometimes weeks or months to work on a piece of art, an illustration, a comic, and then they post it on social media and find that hardly anybody actually engages with it. And I don‘t mean engagement as in likes, I mean actual engagement. That people take a moment out of their life to sit with that work and really look at it, absorb it and talk to the artist about it.

All of what we see on our timelines on twitter, instagram or facebook, it just becomes white noise to us, we don‘t really interact with it anymore. If you’ve spent half an hour scrolling through twitter, through instagram, ask yourself: Do you actually remember what you’ve seen? Can you clearly picture in your mind an artwork that you’ve absentmindedly liked in that time-frame?

For me, the answer to those questions was “No” more often than not. And that bothered me. The way these platforms condition us to use them is disjointed, impersonal, detached. And more and more I kept asking myself

“Why am I even participating in this goddamn, tiring and frustrating ratrace?”

The goal to beat the algorithm so I’d get eyes on my work became a constant struggle, and with every year it became harder and harder to keep up. Ultimately it felt like my art was just part of the content-noise, and I felt detached from it as well, just like with the content I was consuming on social media. My own work felt like just another drop of water in an ocean of equally meaningless content. Like whatever I was doing, it didn’t really matter anyway.


The time when the big social media platforms were a way to connect to other artists and find opportunities for work has long since passed, at least for me. It has brought me mostly frustration, anxiety, anger and resentment in the last couple of years. And yet I clung so desperately to it, because that’s what you have to do, right? You need a presence on social media because otherwise you are invisible to potential clients.


Maybe? I honestly don’t know.

Maybe it’s all bullshit and another lie we have been conditioned to believe in, so we keep posting and keep churning out content for these platforms to become white noise for others to scroll through. So that the higher ups can keep making money with ads and our data and the shareholders are appeased. Or maybe it really is the best way to find work as an artist, or find clients as a small business owner, and I’m seriously shooting myself in the foot here. I honestly don’t know. Maybe in a year’s time I will come crawling back to social media, begging it to take me back.


But for me, the price of getting the eyes of potential clients on my work through social media is too high. The costs include my mental health, my creative energy and also time that I could spent creating really cool things. And clearly it hasn’t been working for me anyway, not for a long time. So I see no point in clinging to this approach any longer. I want to create art on my own terms again, not because an algorithm demands it so that it might put my work unto the feeds of others. Not because I feel pressured to produce content so that I’m not forgotten by my followers. Most of whom don’t even really care, let’s be realistic.


And that's why I'm leaving.

 I don’t know what the future holds for me, honestly. I’m still getting back my footing after loosing almost a year to the healing complications after my breast reduction surgery. But things are developing. I’ve signed on with an illustration agency very recently. I’m still working on a very gay graphic novel. I’ve got different ideas for other projects, and might branch out into different media to communicate those ideas. I want to focus my attention more on my own, local community. See if I can do some good with my art on a smaller scale, with inspiring, creative people. 

Because if I’ve seen one thing really working, it’s connecting to other people around you. Motivated people who like you for who you are and what you stand for, and who want to work with you. I’ve come to the conclusion for myself, that honestly? I don’t think I want tens of thousands or millions of people following me. Having an audience so large there is no room for communication anymore, for dialogue. I’d rather have a smaller, like-minded community that supports me and that I support in turn.

And whatever might happen, I’d like to document that process, this new journey. So maybe other artists see that it’s possible to get away from the shackles of social media. I myself have given those platforms enough free content over the years, poured in so much time and effort with diminishing results. And I refuse to play their game anymore just so I might have the chance for some people to see my art. –  That is, if I play by the rules. Which are always shifting and changing. And I’m tired of it. 

My job isn’t keeping up to date with social media trends. I never signed up to become a social media content creator. I want to create art that tells stories, that challenges me personally, and that people can connect with.

It’s been too long since it felt like I was doing that. Time to change it. And I hope you’ll join me on this new journey. I am for sure excited to see where it’s gonna go!

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