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by Dani Merritt •

cal newport cleveland heights digital minimalism founder blog instagram lifestyle mental health outdoor marketing overconsumption social media

Why We Left Social Media…Sort Of.

We woke up today to our Instagram account being deactivated, right before our Summer Shirt Launch. Bummer…or blessing? For the longest, we’ve been conflicted with leaving social media behind and getting back to what got us going, offline marketing. Maybe this was the boost we needed. We just started sending out mailers again and many other offline marketing and branding campaigns and initiatives.  Most will understand. But some will ask us the big question…why?!???  Social Media almost cost me, the founder, my mental health. I really put hard work and research into every post. I also did the graphic designing. Hardly anyone saw the post and before I learned about Instagram’s deceitful practices, I simply thought we just weren’t good enough. It took a toll on my mental health and sent me into a depression.  These platforms have no idea what they’re doing mentally to everyday people. It’s dangerous. Thankfully, I researched and learned about how they work. When we first started EC77 back in 2006, we sold out of our home, mainly due to my being pregnant. Customers would come to our home to pick up their orders. We printed shirts in the basement. We’d travel all around our hometown of Cleveland Heights, Ohio placing stickers on telephone poles, handing out flyers, we even got the chance to get on the radio at one point(thanks to a good friend, former NFL player).  It just…felt different. It felt, rewarding. Since moving to online marketing heavy in 2012-13, it was incredible at first, almost feeling the same when sales were obtained. Now? Not so much. Social media is exhausting. It’s overcrowded. It’s hard to remember what we viewed by the end of the day. The constant looking & scrolling is unhealthy and a lot of people are suffering in the world due to its overconsumption.  It’s not fun to obtain a sale from a customer that can’t remember why he or she purchased the product by the time it arrives to their doorstep.  So, Instagram suspended us out of nowhere, and we most likely won’t appeal. We had 100k+ followers, but over 95% of them never saw our content. We had a handful of customers from the platform, but we know all of them by name and number. 3 of them were also customers before we ever launched an Instagram page. We don’t find fun on the platform and since I left Instagram personally after reading Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism book last year(an incredible read btw), my mental health has never been better.    Maybe this was a Godsend. For us, we will consider it one. Every sale isn’t worth having. Especially if your mental health or the health of the potential consumer is at risk. We don’t want to win that way.  We are also minimal on X & we don’t use Tiktok, despite having a page. Maybe one day. We grew on word of mouth and we hope to continue to grow this way. If social media is costing you your livelihood, please avoid it. It’s not worth it. Friends, family and outdoor experiences are worth way more.  Founder,  Dani C. Merritt Mental Health Advocate. ❤️   Update: Instagram gave us a permanent ban due to us impersonating a politician. Yes, a politician. Here’s the details: Apparently, someone hacked a young woman’s Instagram from Colorado that hadn’t posted since July of 2022. They added our logo, bio and web address to this woman’s page. They also changed her username to our brand name, and added an underscore(ec77.co_) . Impressive. But wait, there’s more.  Once they added our image to a new post for her page, they then decided to report our brand to Instagram saying we were impersonating her.  Wow. Her bio says the following, “A Brand for Better. Climate Friendly. An informative LookBook.” Our exact bio. Amazing, for a politician. Instagram did absolutely no research. They immediately banned us without checking anything(despite telling us their systems discovered it and then a human pulled the plug).  Makes no sense, whatsoever.  Moral of the Story: Never feel safe on someone else’s platform. Adios to our 100k followers, our heartfelt posts(a very memorable post to a friend we lost to brain cancer) that we worked very hard to create and so much more.  We continue to move forward. Without Instagram.