There was a time when Instagram used to be my favorite app. I would check it endlessly throughout the day and often times, found it a more enjoyable medium over other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Being able to catch a raw moment in time from a friend, family member or even a stranger, seemed like a uniquely personal way to connect with others. Unfortunately, like with most social media platforms as they grow and change, Instagram’s transformation as of late has been for the worst.
When Instagram launched in 2010, I fell in love with its “real factor” as the idea behind Instagram was simple: capture a moment in time and post it online. Nothing had to be perfect; photography quality, lighting, hair, smiles, or even the setting. It was a collective hodge-podge of random creativity and it was fun. You never knew on any given day what was going to scroll past you on your feed and to some extent, that still is the case however, for the most part, it all seems so…
Orchestrated. Planned. Fake.
Gone are the days when people posted just to…post. Now you have clichés, robots, pods, loops and follow-for-follow. There are now “rules” if you expect to be taken seriously on Instagram; proper lighting, proper backgrounds, the just right caption, the proper theme and tone for your feed, the right modeling pose, the right hashtags – OY. You guys, seriously?!
So you’re telling me that if I take a picture of my adorable five-year-old doing something completely cute, if I don’t tweak or edit the photo, don’t give you a snazzy caption or have it look magazine cover ready then said photo is less adorable? Less cute? Less worthy to be liked? It makes ZERO sense. Think about how shallow this mentality really is. Between societal pressures, the addiction for ‘likes,’ blogger expectations, sponsorships, follows, and so much more, we’ve somehow managed to boil down our IG timelines into a desperate series of begging, “Like me! Please, please, please like ME!”
The only problem? We don’t know who “Me” is. We don’t really know who YOU are. Do you even remember yourself anymore? In your orchestrated, prop-using, numbers obsessed, need to keep up with Jones’s mentality, do you remember what it’s like to simply keep things basic and real? To simply be you?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve totally fallen into the trap of feeling like everything should be perfect for me to post a picture on my Instagram feed. If you look at my account from the first day I started posting until now, it’s easy to see how my pictures have progressed over the years. I confess that on any given day over the past couple of years you could find me:
- Begging and bartering with my daughter to pose for the perfect shot.
- Having an emotional breakdown when said picture doesn’t happen.
- Spending excess time editing pictures so they look perfect and IG worthy.
- Feeling like I had to like other people’s photos for them to keep following me and liking my photos.
- Obsessing about my numbers, stats and likes.
- Orchestrating or planning a supposed moment so I would have something to post.
- Feeling guilty about older pictures that don’t look as nice and debating whether or not to delete them.
- Scouring Home Depot and Lowes for backgrounds.
- Raiding the Target dollar spot for props and photo decorations.
- Falling out of a chair to get the perfect picture.
YOU GUYS. None of this is okay. Why are we doing this?
I’m so incredibly tired of filters. Can’t I just take a photo, post and be done? No. You must use filters and of course, it’s always a constant struggle figuring out which one to use. What makes me look my best? Seriously, who has time for this nonsense? Editing every photo? I admit that there have been times where I’ve spent almost an hour editing a photo to only have no one like it. That’s an hour of my life wasted and gone forever. More so, do I really want to fall into the trap of being that narcissistic all the time? No, not really.
Do I even need to go into how lame the robots and follow/unfollow apps like Crowdfire have changed the user experience for all of us? There used to be a time when I would get excited seeing a comment bubble pop up in my notifications; thinking one of my friends took the time to comment on a picture was fun however, when you realize it’s some generic, makes-no-sense type of comment like, “Amazing shot. Great job!” on a quote, the appeal soon loses its luster.
And don’t even get me started on the big-time bloggers who only buy Chanel, Tory Burch, and Louis Vuitton but are pimping paid posts about no name footwear companies that you know they would never be seen dead in. The struggle of knowing what’s real is in fact just that – a struggle.
For me, it’s becoming obvious that Instagram just isn’t a valuable exchange of my time anymore. More so, it’s all just exhausting. Every blog group I’m a member of has someone in it freaking out over their stats, likes, and follower count. For what? Let me fill you in on a little secret as a business woman whose been working in marketing for almost 20 years: If the ups and downs of your Instagram account is the cornerstone of your marketing plan for your business, then you don’t really have a successful marketing plan to begin with.
It may sound harsh, but it’s the truth.
This morning when I dropped my daughter off at school, she wanted to play in the snow. There’s a little field by the road where we park and she wanted to take a moment to simply be a child who loves the snow so before walking her into school, I let her play. As I watched her, the blogger side of me screamed, “You should be getting pictures of this for the blog and social media!” Fortunately, the more rational side of me kicked in and answered back, “No. Not today. Today, I will simply live in the moment and enjoy watching my child be happy.”
Will I quit Insta for good? Probably not. I know that for the millions of posers out there, the genuine people exist, hard as they are to find. Has posting and scrolling far less made me happier with my online time? Absolutely. To me, living with my head up instead of down feels far better than the alternative and for me, that’s something I really “like.”