The Emails and Texts That Show How Badly Instagram Wants me Back



Around February 15 – about month ago – I decided I would delete the Facebook and Instagram apps from my iPhone.

I haven’t quit these services entirely, and at this point don’t immediately intend to (I can still view both via a browser).

But I wanted to take a break given all I’ve been reading lately about how social media apps are engineered to hijack our attention in order to keep serving us ads.  (What about Twitter? I have no plans to abandon the app for now, as its enormously helpful for following the news.)

I’d heard about people receiving plaintive emails and even text messages from these platforms attempting to get them to re-engage. So I figured I’d document my experience here.

While I’ve received some emails from Facebook, Instagram, especially, really seems to want me back. And I’m not even a power user, much less an “influencer.” I have several hundred followers, but less than a thousand.

Anyway, above are the five emails I’ve received from the service since I last opened the app. I also received two text messages, spaced just a few days apart, roughly two weeks into my hiatus:


Stay tuned. I may update this post as I receive more messages. Assuming Instagram hasn’t given up on me yet…

Movies Tech

Does Social Media Make TV a Better Entertainment Medium for Our Time than Film?

This snippet in Richard Brody’s recent New Yorker piece on the best movies of 2015 struck me:

The cinema’s self-conscious modernity arose when its makers put a virtual mirror into its lenses and revealed the filmmaking process in the films themselves. They reflected the world around the movie within the movie, the director on the screen. But television has outrun the cinema here, too, by replacing the mirror with an echo chamber; by means of social media, television has gone beyond reflexivity to become participatory. It has become its own story. “Transparent” isn’t about an elderly father who comes out as a transgender woman; it’s about the making of a show on that subject. “Mad Men” is about the making of a show about advertising people in the nineteen-sixties. Unlike movies, where reflexivity is a matter of aesthetics, TV has made it a matter of ethics, politics, and sociology.

Food for thought.


“A Teenager’s View on Social Media…

…Written by an actual teen.”

There’s some fascinating stuff here.


Personal Blogging: Everything Old is New Again

Blogging — at one’s own custom domain, as opposed to scribbling away over at Medium or penning an email newsletter — is cool!

Seriously, is it 2014, or 2004?

Fred Wilson:

There’s a bit of a renaissance of real personal blogging here in NYC. Two of the original NYC bloggers have, after years of writing professionally and editing others, returned to their own blogs.

It started with Lockhart Steele, the founder of Curbed, Racked, and Eater, who started that media business on his personal blog.

Then the next day, Elizabeth Spiers, the founding editor/blogger at Gawker, dusted off her blog and started writing on it again.


There is something about the personal blog,, where you control everything and get to do whatever the hell pleases you. There is something about linking to one of those blogs and then saying something. It’s like having a conversation in public with each other. This is how blogging was in the early days. And this is how blogging is today, if you want it to be.

It feels so good to link to both of them.

Brent Simmons:

I’ve heard blogs classified as a type of social media. Maybe that’s true, and maybe not — I don’t care.

What I do care about is that my blog isn’t part of a system where its usefulness is just a hook to get me to use it. It works the way I want to, and the company running the servers (DreamHost) doesn’t care one fig what I do.

My blog’s older than Twitter and Facebook, and it will outlive them. It has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here.

The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.


I knew if I waited around long enough, blogging would be the hot new thing again: Sippey, Steele, Spiers.

I have been blogging consistently here at since January, 2002.

Streaks are important.


The Thai Air Logo Paint Job, Crisis Communications, and Social Media

A couple of Tweets I appended to my last post:

A WSJ Southeast Asia Real Time post explains that such logo masking was once more common. But that was before social media:

A common practice by airlines trying to reduce negative publicity about accidents – masking their company logo on a plane involved in a mishap – is proving ineffective in the social-media age, when passengers and onlookers can snap photos and put out unflattering comments to a global audience within minutes of an incident.


It is now not considered best practice in the airline community to do this,” said John Bailey, the managing director of Icon International, a communications firm that also advises airlines on crisis management.

He pointed out that passengers and airport visitors commonly have smartphones with cameras, marking quite a different world than two decades ago when airlines commonly masked their logos on damaged planes.

“The environment has changed, and the challenge for airlines is infinitely more complicated. If an accident happens in a visible and populated area, the airline can’t hope to match the speed of response of eyewitnesses and survivors,” said Mr. Bailey, who previously worked with the International Air Transport Association.

Journalism Tech Thailand

Self-Promotion: New WSJ Southeast Asia Real Time Story about Facebook’s Popularity in Bangkok

The story is here, and begins:

There are more Facebook users in Bangkok than in any other world city. That is the somewhat surprising finding of a global ranking of the social networking behemoth’s users based on their metropolitan areas.

Bangkok has some 8.68 million Facebook users, followed by Jakarta (7.43 million) and Istanbul (7.07 million), according to a list published by the well-known international social media analytics company Socialbakers.

Please give the piece a read and — you knew this was coming — consider “liking” it on Facebook.


More on Bangkok’s Tweeting Motorcycle Taxi Driver

A quick follow up on my post yesterday highlighting the BBC video report on Dejchat Phuangket, a Bangkok motorcycle taxi driver and social media maven.

Thanks to Byron at Coconuts Bangkok for getting in touch to say that his site has also run items on Khun Dejchat.

The first post provides an overview of Dejchat’s work following the Valentine’s Day explosions.

The second is a longer interview with Dejchat. One interesting tidbit on offer here: The story points out that he created an interesting Web site about his hometown in Sisaket province. (Warning: The site employs auto-loading luk thung music!)


BBC Story on Bangkok’s Tweeting Motorcycle Taxi Driver

2012 03 19 motorcycle taxi twitterer

The BBC has a video report today on Dejchat Phuangket, a Bangkok motorcycle taxi driver who has become renowned for his blogging and Tweeting:

His mode of transport is one of Bangkok’s most basic – the motorbike. But it is Dejchat Phuangket’s command of cutting edge technology that has turned him into Thailand’s most famous taxi driver.

For two years, Dejchat tweeted and blogged about his daily life.

Whether it be the contents of his lunch or the state of the traffic, his wry observations and a steady stream of photos kept his small band of loyal followers amused.

Then on Valentines Day the news came to Dejchat’s part of central Bangkok.

An explosion partially destroyed a house being rented by a group of Iranians.

As the men fled the damaged building they threw explosives at a taxi and one of the men had his legs blown off. Almost immediately the blasts were linked to attempted attacks the day before on Israeli diplomats in Georgia and India.

As news of the explosions began to circulate, Dejchat was already on the scene.

“A foreigner was carrying a bag and an explosion happened,” he tweeted under his username motorcyrubjang. “He lost his legs but is still alive at Sukhumvit 71.”

What’s more, Dejchat — who you can follow at @motorcyrubjang — may just have the coolest Twitter profile page photo montage ever. (Click through to see it.)

(All emphasis mine.)

(Image: BBC.)

Bangkok Tech

Off topic: “RE TWEET ME” T-shirt for Sale in Bangkok

I wanted to share this cell phone picture of a T-shirt I spotted at a market in Bangkok’s Silom neighborhood last night.

Yes, it says “RE TWEET ME.”

Further proof — as if any were needed — of Twitter’s global influence.

2011 12 05 retweet me T shirt bangkok

Naturally, I Tweeted the pic, and Twitter user @_JustMelissa posted the excellent image below in response.

She wrote:

@newley love it! It’s like this one. I had to stalk this kid all the way down Silom for this picture.

Af0d4zTCQAAV0ki jpg large

So there you have it: Bangkok’s Silom ‘hood is a hotbed for Twitter-focused sartorial irony. Who knew?


Off topic: Diagramming my social media involvement

While researching a story a couple of weeks back, I interviewed an expert who advises hotels on how best to use social media.

He told me that some clients were starting to realize that social media is here to stay, and that they had better start making good use of it.

Social media is here to stay.

That phrase stuck with me.

It’s tempting to think about social media in the short term, since it’s a relatively new phenomenon. Indeed, new services seem arrive quickly and sometimes fall out of favor. MySpace, for example, was once commanding international headlines, but its popularity has fallen off sharply.

But clearly, Facebook and Twitter — and now Google Plus — are gaining new users rapidly. And blogs, forums, and wikis continue to flourish. To wit:

  • In June, comScore pointed out that in 2007, people spent one out of every 12 minutes online interacting with social media sites. That figure is now at one out of every six minutes.
  • And a June study from the Pew Internet and American Life project reported that 47 percent of adults in the U.S. say they use a social networking site. That’s up from 26 percent in 2008.

Yes, there are important questions to ask here, like whether or not social media is actually beneficial for its users. This is a topic for another blog post, perhaps.

For now, I wanted to share the following sketches to illustrate how my thinking about the way I interact with the Web has changed over the years.

In an attempt to make sense of my own social media practices, I have periodically sketched out, on 4×6 inch index cards, how I use the Internet. But first, two caveats:

  • Warning: The following is very geeky.
  • These scribblings will not win any drawing awards.

Okay. Here we go:

Here’s the first diagram, which I did around 2008:

(Click the image for a larger version.)

As you’ll see, I labeled this “My Social Media Ecosystem,” and I drew a line in the left corner separating my “public” and “private” spheres.

In the upper left corner, I listed three online communities with which I was once involved but no longer use.

These include, which was a site that allowed users to set up pages and bulletin boards to share information on various topics; GoodReads, the well-known book-centered community; The Glove Bag, a community for soccer goalkeepers; and Emory Alumni, my alma mater’s community site.

In the middle of the diagram is my site,, which you’re reading now. Overlapping the upper left and right corners are my Flickr page on the popular photo sharing site, and my Twitter account.

I also drew a link between my blog and my personal Facebook account.

In addition, I created a line between my site and my “blogroll,” which was once a long list of sites I linked to but is now a more focused list on my links page.

I also placed question marks around three social sites I was thinking about using but never embraced: FriendFeed (RSS/feed aggregation), Tumblr (microblogging), and Vimeo (video).

And finally, I listed the ways I collect input on the Web: through RSS, email, podcast, and Twitter feeds.

All in all, it is a somewhat jumbled diagram.

Here’s the second sketch, from perhaps 2009:

(Click the image for a larger version.)

Again, this one is called “My Social Media Ecosystem.”

Here, I charted my “level of engagement” along the “y” axis, with levels of public or private networks listed on the “x” axis. is in the upper left, as I regarded it as the Web entity with which I am most involved. I still feel that way.

Similarly public, but with less interaction on my part, are the blogs that I read and the Flickr users I track.

I estimated Twitter as being equal in terms of level of engagement as my blog, but it’s further along the “x” axis. While my Twitter feed is just as public as, it’s slightly more closed in that users must sign up with the site to participate in discussions.

I listed Facebook as more private but involving less of my personal engagement. This is curious, since Facebook, of course, centers on personal relationships. But I consider my activity on that site as being less important than here, on my public Web site.

Skype shows up on this diagram as being private but involving less engagement, as I use the service not only for calls and video, but also for instant messaging.

And finally, I’ve listed podcasts here, though I’m not sure that they constitute social media. I have a high degree of engagement with the podcasts I listen to, but there’s no back-and-forth interaction, so the format feels largely broadcast in nature.

In retrospect, this diagram doesn’t seem especially meaningful, since levels of engagement and public or private measurements, as charted on the axes, aren’t valuable metrics.

And finally, here’s my latest diagram, which I created just last week:

(Click the image for a larger version.)

I used a different name for this one: “The Web and Me.”

I’ve used a venn diagram format here, with my site occupying the most prominent spot, in the middle.

Flickr overlaps a bit, as I occasionally host blog images (like these diagrams) there.

Twitter has a larger overlapping section, since I frequently post observations and links there throughout the day. And my Tweets have a more prominent place on, since they can be seen on the right side of every page.

Facebook has a Flickr-sized overlapping segment, since I have a box on inviting people to “like” my newly created public Facebook page.

And finally, on the left, you’ll see a circle for what I call “The Rest of the Web”: email, RSS, and podcasts.

This diagram feels the most natural to me, which shouldn’t be surprising since it’s the freshest.

Four conclusions:

  1. My personal site is at the center of my engagement with the Web. Indeed, I registered in 1999 and have been blogging consistently since 2002. I think of as hub of my online presence.

    This site contains links to my work, my contact information, and my ongoing posts about the things that interest me. I suspect that this will continue to be the case in the years ahead.

  2. Social media sites may rise and fall in popularity, but I have continued using Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. I see no reason that this should change. Will I start using the much-discussed Google Plus? I’m not sure.
  3. One service that is missing in every diagram is social bookmarking. I used to make ample use of, but I never used it socially. I don’t see bookmarking as an inherently social service. If I want to share a link with others, I do so on Twitter, Facebook, or here.
  4. In my last diagram, I make no distinction between public, private, and various levels of engagement. I now think of my involvement with the Web simply in terms of overlapping services, with my own site in the middle.

    This may be a function of my evolving comfort with social media. Perhaps I’m not as concerned now with how “engaged” I am with a particular site, or whether or not it’s public or private. I have come to understand these factors and don’t dwell on them.

Looking ahead: If, as the expert told me, social media is here to say, what might these sketches look like in five or ten years? Or in 20 or 30 years?

I look forward to your thoughts.