A thought I have been mulling over as of late: what would happen if Instagram and social media disappeared all of a sudden?
A slightly post-apocalyptic image comes to my mind: people wandering the streets aimlessly, staring vacantly at the horizon, not recognising one another in their sociability. LOL.
OK, let’s get real now. I have been on the gram for less than a year but I often wonder how our modern society would be if these little apps didn’t have such a predominant role on our daily doings. What if you had to actually call your friend in order to know what is going on with their life? How would we kill time after meals or know what Kim Kardashian is doing every day of the week?
Questions that will remain unanswered as, even if I can look back a couple of decades and remember how things were back then (I am that old, no judging!), the truth is that nowadays there is no escaping the reach of social media in one way or another. Twitter creates and shares news faster than any other traditional news channel, Facebook kindly reminds you today it’s your fourth-grade classmate’s birthday in case you want to send him a cute balloon sticker and Instagram is your infinite dose of beautiful imagery directly into your blood stream.
In the past decade, social media have completely revolutionised the way we communicate with each other and even how we portray ourselves before others. Communication has become almost instant, which is great in emergency situations and when trying to get hold of people at the other end of the planet, but we have also voluntarily renounced a big part of our privacy in hopes of connecting with hundreds of people all over the world and potentially make a living off of that! It’s crazy when you stop to think about it, isn’t it?
Of course, not all is bad when talking about this subject (if there is a good or bad side at all). I find that one of the advantages of social media has been the democratisation of fame. I will elaborate a bit: it’s in our human nature to admire others, to look up to them and even to want to become them. That’s how we learn, how we evolve and how we stay motivated to achieve the best version of ourselves. The difference is that nowadays everyone has the possibility of becoming someone else’s role model without having to fit under the classic “idol” label, without the TV or the press deciding who we should look up to.
The fact that normal people are (over)sharing their experiences, their passions and their thoughts much more often than before has created a sense of community and belonging for many. People find relatable people whose interests and feelings hit home and thanks to social media, a real connection between these beautiful minds can be established. Of course we now walk on the thin line of treating everyone we follow on IG as an old-time friend simply because we know their life and work via Stories, so we have all become social stalkers to a certain degree… oops! But worry not, it’s vastly acceptable to do this and people even expect you to comment on certain things they shared on the Internet for the world to see! 🙂
And now getting serious again, I have not demonised social media and I totally recognise the contribution it has made to society, however I wanted to touch upon how I am feeling towards it lately and how it’s impacting my life.
After being amongst the first ones of my peeps in joining Facebook about a decade ago, I couldn’t stop raving about how cool this platform was to stay connected with friends who lived far away but that surely I wanted to see again someday! Also, as I moved countries a fair amount of times since I started uni, Facebook was the easiest way to stay in touch with family and friends while I was away. A few years later I started to see a shift in the way people used this platform and I got tired of it, of how political it became, dividing opinions instead of connecting like-minded peers, of how easy it was for people to share fake news and spread hate, plus oh my god, so many ads to scroll by! So I pretty much stopped sharing content on Facebook, save the occasional holiday snap or feminist article.
However if we fast-forward to the present moment, you’ll notice that I have had to reconnect with this old pal after launching She talks Glam because it’s where my circle of friends and colleagues, to my surprise the most loyal readers of the blog, are most active! So giving a second chance to Mark Zuckerberg, hahaha.
Now, this blog post wouldn’t be complete without discussing the king of the moment: Instagram!
This app surprised everyone by its simplicity and soon enough became the platform everyone was raving about. After some initial reservations, the fear of being left out was all too powerful, and so I joined this 800 million-people community without really knowing what I was getting myself into. Only pictures? Ah, ok, same thing I was doing on Facebook. Hash… what? A tool to navigate through the content and make it easier for others to find you. Do I want to be found? Mmmmm… still not sure here! A platform where creatives showcase their content and make a living by connecting with people and brands. Ah, that’s another story!
The idea of launching my own blog had been roaming around in my head for a while, but I wanted to have a taste of the app first. Capture a beautiful image, apply a filter that you like and add some words preceded by a hashtag so that people that are not necessarily your friends see the photo. Easy enough, right?
Little did I know that once the blog became a reality, my relationship with Instagram would become one of love and hate… After completing the compulsory “Instagram training for bloggers”: the 36,472 articles on how to curate your feed, how to find your aesthetic, the best times to post, the best hashtags to use in your niche, how to connect with similar bloggers and organically grow your account… I realised the art of cracking down Instagram’s code (the dreaded algorithm) was far more complicated than I’d initially thought. The truth is that, as I joined the platform when it was already a thing, the concept of the app being a springboard for content creators to grow their business was already in many people’s minds, including mine, so that took some of the point-shoot-and-share fun away and added extra pressure, because as a perfectionist, I wanted to get it all right from the start!
After only 4 months aboard the boat, I started to feel dizzy –read anxious–, constantly checking my phone, wondering whether I had an aesthetic to start with, getting upset when the bunch of followers I had won the previous week suddenly disappeared overnight, considering plans and places according to their level of Instagrammability, etc. To put it bluntly, I had totally lost myself in the social media labyrinth to the point that I was becoming a person I disliked. And I hadn’t even signed up to Twitter!
I have never been an anxious person, quite the opposite, so after a bit of internal struggle and a lot of external rambling (similar to this one here), I decided to take a step back and treat Instagram for what it is: a place where everyone can share their vision of the world and connect with similar-minded souls –be it individuals or companies–, but where people also go for instant gratification, and where not everything is as perfect as they make it out to believe.
My Instagram account grows ever so slowly but it’s fine, I am not letting the number of followers define me or the quality of my content –I was always rubbish at numbers anyways! I am enjoying the content I put out there and some kind people seem to be liking it as well, which I am really thankful for. I am getting to know amazing creators and upping my photography and editing skills thanks to them. I have also learnt to put my phone away more often and don’t feel the pressure to post something if I don’t feel like it.
I want people to see the real me through my grid, same as here in the blog, and Saida is sometimes a busy bee with no time or energy for social interaction, and sometimes the most exciting part of my day is breakfast (which I tend to share on InstaStories) and it’s OK not to have the luxurious blogger life they are selling us all over Instagram, but instead enjoy the little pleasures.
When I feel I am getting lost in the social media labyrinth, I take a deep breath, close my IG app and call a friend to meet for coffee or go for a walk. I keep on realising over and over again that the time spent with my loved ones is the most precious thing I will ever have, plus I’ll never be able to Instagram the feeling of this autumn sun touching my skin or the smell of burning logs in a fireplace… and you know what? That’s something I can totally live with.
Do you ever feel the same, glamistas? How do you disconnect from social media when needed?
Thanks for reading my thoughts week after week and hope you have the best Sunday ever!