Social Media, Interrupted: Users Recounting Temporary Disconnection on Instagram

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Abstract

This article looks at the discourses of Instagram users about interrupting the use of social or digital media, through hashtags such as “socialmediadetox,” “offline,” or “disconnecttoreconnect.” We identified three predominant themes: posts announcing or recounting voluntary interruption, mostly as a positive experience associated to regaining control over time, social relationships, and their own well-being; others actively campaigning for this type of disconnection, attempting to convert others; and disconnection as a lifestyle choice, or marketing products by association with disconnection imaginary. These discourses reproduce other public discourses in asserting the self-regulation of the use of social media as a social norm, where social media users are responsible for their well-being and where interruption is conveyed as a valid way to achieve that end. They also reveal how digital disconnection and interruption is increasingly reintegrated on social media as lifestyle, in cynical and ironic ways, and commodified and co-opted by businesses, benefiting from—and ultimately contributing to—the continued economic success of the platform. As Hesselberth, Karppi, or Fish have argued in relation to other forms of disconnection, discourses about Instagram interruptions are thus not transformative but restorative of the informational capitalism social media are part of.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalSOCIAL MEDIA + SOCIETY
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Keywords

  • disconnection
  • Instagram
  • non-use
  • hashtags
  • co-option

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