I have this love/hate relationship with Instagram… social media in general.
I love it because it connects me with amazing people all over the world.
It keeps me (somewhat) in the loop with old friends and acquaintances that I can’t talk with everyday.
It can inspire me creatively… beautiful photographs, the things people are doing…
It informs me on things, places, causes, and people I care about.
There’s a lot that’s great about it and thankfully so because it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
But I also have a problem with social media (mostly Instagram) because it only paints half the picture, if even that.
It’s often SO curated that it takes “real life” out of the equation… and that takes away my trust.
What’s even worse is that when I catch up with a friend, I assume that life is all gravy for them (because of what I’m seeing on Instagram) only to learn that some shit is really going wrong with them. Or that something has happened, or broken their spirit… despite their pretty pictures with upbeat captions on Instagram.
In fact social media can make everything seem SO hunky dory- that we don’t even reach out to our friends as much anymore. Because we assume everything is good. Or we assume we already know everything that’s going on in their lives.
The truth is: we don’t. We’re getting more and more disconnected with real life friends because we feel connected through a platform that shows only curated pieces of our real selves.
We need real connection.
And what about the people we follow on Instagram that we don’t know? Those in our community… or the insta-famous… the bloggers… the celebrities.
I get it: sometimes we see something in these people that we can relate to… or we can find inspiration in their work… maybe we care about a cause they support. But what about the others? The ones that make us feel… less than. Not as pretty. Not as skinny. Not as rich. Not as “got it all together.” Why do we keep following those accounts?
It’s a bit masochistic isn’t it?
We spend so much energy and time following people and accounts who project this perfect life…
Expensive purses… perfectly laid out next to their latte.
The perfect mirror selfie that created that perfect thigh gap.
The “always” perfectly done up face.
The flat-lays of products that many of us can’t afford. (Or can afford but they’re probably not even using themselves.)
The brand new outfits- complete with fresh folding creases- proving they went from box to photoshoot in 3-2-1. (Did they even wear these clothes again in real life activities?)
Look, I have nothing against a beautiful flat-lay. I’ll rock a flat-lay sometimes. Nothing against my bougie babes who like to glam it up for the gram. You bet your ass if my makeup is on point I like to capture it. Nothing against my fashion gals… (I was a fashion blogger for 5 years.) Full time fashion bloggers work their ASSES off. Trust me.
I guess my problem is the general direction that society has gone in with who we give our attention and energy to and WHY. There are so many people following these accounts who only end up feeling inadequate because of them.
We have these strong, impressionable young women growing insecure due to a constant tassel of the comparison game… failing to recognize that Instagram is NOT real life.
Social media, for the most part…. doesn’t tell us a true story. It might have truth woven IN, but it is rarely the whole shebang. Yet we use it as a barometer for what we assume people’s lives are really like. It’s silly.
Perhaps this is something we have always done though. We get this bombardment of fake lives from magazines, commercials, TV, and now social media.
What’s worse about social media is that we’re now also judging people based on a number that sits atop their feed as if it’s a declaration of how much love and attention that person deserves to get. How much they matter. And we think it’s real.
But it’s not. It’s people following only a glorified version of someone and not really acknowledging that person wholly and for who they really are. (Like our “real” friends would do.)
Side note: A lot of these “insta-famous” people… they may get praised for showing a more “truthful” side to themselves at times (i.e makeup-less, sitting in an unflattering position, etc) and I think that’s VERY important they do that and I commend them for it tremendously. BUT. I think it’s also important to note– had they started with those “imperfect” photos, and only those kinds of photos– they probably wouldn’t have the follower count they do now. Yadida feel me?
I guess I just worry that every day our society is more and more chasing unobtainable goals and praising material things, and appearances… rather than things that are matters of the heart, matters of experience and connecting.
It’s weird right? We’re a society who craves authenticity yet we praise people on social media who have accounts of perfectly placed everything: perfect faces, perfect outfits, perfect destinations. But none of that is truly perfect. They are merely perfect moments, perfect edits…
Creating a beautiful feed with beautiful photos is art. Acting. And only until we realize this can we follow accounts without feeling less than. If we even choose to keep following them at all.
We can’t pass Instagram off as real life… and we need to be smarter consumers. We also need to reevaluate who we glorify on a day to day basis.
If you want the real meat and potatoes of your favorite IGer… look at their website. IG is only a sliver and doesn’t come close to showing you what they have to offer creatively. (Unless IG is their entire business.)
This past summer, when I became the sole Editor in Chief of Violet Fog… I decided to do something.
I told myself: Violetfog.com is the mothership of the Violet Fog business. Not social media. Social media matters, but not nearly as much as our WORK… which is writing. Researching. Providing informational value. Inspirational value (hopefully.) Making an impact. Getting real life stories, experiences, and opinions out there… from me and my fellow writers. That is what matters to us.
Maybe it’s a personal thing, but Instagram had begun to bore me. Prior- I had grown so f*cking sick of making sure the VF “feed” was perfect. Of following accounts that I never had real interactions with. Following accounts that I actually wasn’t really inspired by… just jealous of- for false reasons (because again- Instagram isn’t completely real.) I was sick of all that.
And you know what I did? First, I changed The Violet Fog handle to just my own. (I still promote VF on it all the time because it’s my life haha.) But here’s the big change: I started following actual Violet Fog readers. I started following women and men who I could relate to, who are doing COOL things and JUST for themselves– not for a blog, not for a sponsored post… not for the likes.
I started following women who read and love Violet Fog– because they are who I want to engage with. I create for me, I create for them. They are the women I want to impress. I would rather a bunch of VF readers follow along with me than one super popular Instagrammer… I don’t give two shits about popularity on Instagram anymore. I want to connect with people who genuinely like the VF message. (#BrainIsTheNewAss #NiceGirlsClub) <—- So if you do, please say hi!! Seriously- let’s talk. @TheVioletFog
I know a lot of super popular Instagrammers… let me tell you something: a lot of them paint an entirely different picture of who they are in real life than what they portray online. As I would expect though, you know?
And when it does come to fellow professional creatives… I started following (or kept following) ones that I actually enjoyed engaging with. Ones who engage with me back. Ones who I genuinely want to collaborate with one day. Who I feel a mutual admiration with, even just online. Ones who seem to care so much about the content they put out there and how it impacts their audience. Ones who I respect.
The creatives I am really attracted to are the ones I see engaging with their audience, who give off a very authentic vibe whom I feel more of a kinship with rather than someone to just “idolize.” Perfect isn’t attainable for me… I don’t want to follow perfect.
So I’ve changed the way I use Instagram. And you know what? I’m so much f*cking happier. I’m one of those weirdos who legit responds to people’s IG stories. One of those weirdos who likes every single one of the photos of the people I follow– just because I support them. And I want them to know that- their follower count be damned. I don’t care about that. If I don’t like a photo of theirs… it’s just because I missed it. Life is so much about status, when it should be more about love. No questions asked.
(I also like a lot of photos of VF readers whom maybe I don’t follow because we haven’t engaged much, but I just want them to know that I appreciate them.)
So my advice is this: Go through your follow list. Unfollow any accounts that evoke anything negative in you. Jealousy, comparison, hate-following, nosiness. Life is already hard enough for you, erase some of that negative energy for yourself. If you follow someone for their beauty– that’s cool. But follow for the right reasons. Are they running a business on IG? Actually like their stuff. Support them so they can keep providing you with great content.
Follow people you’d actually want to engage with at times, who bring out something in you that is positive: someone to relate to, be inspired by, laugh with, cry with… etc etc. Someone who makes you go, “I know I don’t know them… but I totally feel like we’d be buds in real life.” You’ll know if that account is giving you GOOD energy or not. If they don’t? Don’t follow. Bye!
P.S: I also LOVE following amazing photographers. Like not just IG photographers (like me lol) but real deal photographers. I love looking at beautiful photographs- so if you have any you recommend I would love to follow! Writers too! I enjoy a good IG poet here and there. 😉
And OBVIOUSLY please recommend accounts of people doing badass things that maybe we would want to write about one day. Or people who are just so honest with their audience that it really sets them apart. Send over your recs!! xx
Thoughts on all this? Would love to hear them, VF Queens.