This post was written and published before I became a slow fashion blog. I may have altered or deleted the original text to reflect my current shopping habits and attitude towards the fashion industry. Read more here.
I spend a lot of time working on my Instagram account. Most of my friends post whatever they want – their most loved photos, their family & friends, a cup of tea, a good book they’ve read etc.– but no, for some reason I painstakingly make sure every photo I upload fits my “theme”. Every outfit that you see on my Instagram has been planned in advance and more often then not, the location is predetermined too. In other words, my Instagram is pretty artificial.
The worst part of all of this is I can feel myself being judged. I fear that people assume I am full of myself and tremendously vain. I also get the impression that by putting effort into my social media, people will start to think that I am trying to become “social media famous” in order to avoid getting a “real” job. The idea of using Instagram solely to gain popularity makes me nauseous. Yes, follower count is important to me but that’s only because I want more people to see my content. The more people I can share my posts with, the more inspired I feel to make more. Then, of course, there’s the Instagram algorithm that makes me shamelessly push my most recent uploads in order to actually be seen. All in all, Instagram is about creating. I have just started out so I know I could be doing better but I love what I am posting at the moment.
Having said all of that, I wanted to write this post for the benefit of those who know me but also the ones who don’t. I think it’s important to set the record straight as soon as possible: I honestly think Instagram is ridiculous.
Part of me thinks it’s hilarious that we live in a world where your online ~presence~ can mean so much. The other part of me finds it deeply unnerving. This is because Instagram completely corrupts our view of reality. To put it bluntly, it is all just a load of lies. I have seen countless bloggers on their beds with stacks of pancakes and an endless arsenal of croissants. Come on, really? Do you start every morning this way? Don’t get wrong, there is nothing wrong with doing this. It’s not meant to be real, I fully understand that. Not to rant or anything but once a few ‘big’ bloggers starting posting images like this, they spread like wildfire. It becomes a new standard for content. A milestone you have to pass in order to be a blogger. Much like the obligatory gold helium balloons you must post whenever you reach a certain number of followers. I really must stress that there is nothing wrong with these examples. I like some of these photos and I have posted photos like this. My point, however, is that once everyone starts doing it, it becomes too repetitive. You’re no longer creating content because it’s interesting but because you feel like you have to or because you know it will get likes. From now on, I don’t like anything unless I think the content creator has put together something so captivating, I have to like it (example). That’s slightly ironic to say because my Instagram is definitely not at that standard.
The main issue I find with this ‘do it for the ‘gram‘ logic is how much it gets in your head. I am slowly but surely starting to feel like I have to go to a tulip field, not because I want to but because of the photo opportunities. There are cafes that I have considered trekking across cities to get to because they are “Instagramable”. It is truly ridiculous. The most frustrating part of all of this is that it is completely transparent. This is by no-means meant to offend anyone (because believe me I am guilty of this too) but you can tell when someone has gone to a location because they know it will do well on Instagram. There is a difference between going to a neat, consistently-coloured London street and an Instagram cafe to take a photo. One location you have chosen because it’s pretty or compliments your subject and the other you have probably chosen because it’s popular on social media and will most likely get you those sweet, sweet likes. Of course, there are exceptions to the latter. Sometimes the cafe is just an aesthetically-pleasing background and not the main motivation for the photo. It then becomes a vicious circle, everyone starts going there. In fact, I have seen so many pictures of certain cafes that I am now at the point where I just won’t like them. This is the same with the bed photos and the helium follower balloons. There is such a thin line between doing something that you truly want to and doing it for Instagram that I, myself, sometimes forget I’ve crossed it. As someone who is part of the masses, those who others are trying to influence, I don’t buy it any more.
A good way to test whether Instagram has gotten to your head is to ask yourself: “would I go here if I didn’t have a camera on me?”.
Equating Follower Count to Status
I won’t really get into as there is not an awful lot to be said. Sometimes, when people grow in following they begin to look down on others who are not as popular. You are no longer just ordinary people appreciating each other’s content, you’re a fan. This whole approach is ridiculous because your follower count does not mean, in any way, that you are better than anyone else. Furthermore, most people unintentionally give off this vibe. Even though I only have 1200 followers, I sometimes feel like I accidentally do this. My Instagram account is mainly me in cute outfits frolicking around my bedroom and the globe (namely, Disneyland resorts) merely reinforcing this facade of ‘the perfect life’. I consciously make an effort to only highlight the best aspects of my life. To some, this probably gives off a vibe that I think I am on a different level. I really want to change my Instagram bio to something along the lines of: “just a regular person”. I remember once receiving an influx of comments about how perfect my feed looked. Meanwhile, I was sitting on my sofa at 10am, watching old Simpsons episodes in my pyjamas and drinking Coca-Cola out of a Christmas mug because I was too lazy to wash any glasses. Again, I am just a regular person and the amount of followers you have doesn’t mean sh*t. If it gives you validation then great. Frankly, I already get my validation and sense of status from being a Delta Medallion member. Instagram growth is great but the numbers above your bio are not that important in the grand scheme of things – In other words, your value as a human being.
Here is a really good video related to this topic by a YouTuber who recently soared in popularity.
…mini rant over. There is so much more I could say on this topic but I feel like I should stop myself. My main point is that Instagram is all lies. It’s easy to get swept up in what you have been told you should be posting rather than what you want to. I see Instagram as a platform for creation – somewhere were I can curate beautiful outfits and images to share with my friends and likeminded people on the internet. I have struggled with the feeing that I need to mimic certain blogger trends in order for people to appreciate my content. I felt the need to share the thought process it took for me to get over my mini Instagram obsession and bring myself back down to reality.
I am going to wrap this up by saying it’s your Instagram and you should post whatever you want. If you enjoy posting helium balloon pics, please do. There is nothing wrong with it if that is what you truly want to do. This post is about feeling pressured to upload certain types of content because other people are inadvertedly telling you it’s what you should be posting. I am not bashing a certain type of content, I am simply expressing my distain in creating content you don’t actually like in order to get likes.
I hope you enjoyed reading!
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Photos by @karyaschanilec.photography