For some time now, Instagram has been my least favourite social media platform.
When I first started blogging, I jumped on absolutely every social media platform –like you do– and I treated Instagram like a visual diary.
I used it to document all of the sweet, funny, lovely moments of each day and I would connect with other bloggers who were doing the same.
But A LOT has changed since then.
These days, with the rise of influencer marketing, owning an Instagram account comes with a lot of responsibility.
As a member of the platform, if you want to be taken seriously, you are required to curate an aesthetically pleasing feed for your followers.
There is no room for spontaneity or images that depict real life anymore. Influencers have created a world where everything needs to be colour coordinated, perfectly proportioned, edited and filtered so that it looks like something you would find inside a glossy magazine.
I really struggle with how fake some of these accounts seem to be. Authenticity is something I value a great deal, as I talked about in my post- authenticity and finding happiness by being myself.
At the beginning of this year I found that logging into Instagram made me feel not only bad about myself, my home and my life but also about my creative endeavors.
I felt that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get a perfectly curated feed. I never knew what to say in my captions. And recording videos for Insta-stories made me feel terribly awkward.
Instagram reminded me of the way I used to feel in high school.
How there were all those little cliques and segregated groups. The sporty kids, the nerdy kids, the quiet ones and the popular ones.
No matter how much I told myself we were all just PEOPLE, I always felt intimidated by the popular kids. There was something about them that I could never match up to. They always made me feel inferior with their designer jeans and the effortless way they managed to always be the centre of attention.
That’s how I used to feel on Instagram. Small. Insignificant. Impossibly confused.
My feed seemed to consist of influencers with hundreds of followers whose picture-perfect lives were a billboard for everything I am not.
For the longest time I have just felt left out and left behind.
I am no supermodel. I don’t have abs worthy of bikini-on-the-beach shots. I don’t go out every Friday evening to share snaps of my cocktails. I don’t have a beautiful all-white, marble counter-topped kitchen.
I’m just well, ordinary.
Most days I go without wearing make up. I prefer to make coffee at home rather than spend money going out all the time.
I feel embarrassed taking pictures of myself in public with everyone looking at me. And my bedroom is dark, cozy and totally un-aesthetically pleasing.
But nobody wants to see ordinary on Instagram. They want flashy, beautiful, and air-brushed. They want a real-life fairy tale all sparkly and tied up with a bow.
So it leaves me wondering, where does someone like me fit in? What have I got to share that people would actually care about?
I couldn’t answer these questions for awhile so I just stayed away.
I hardly ever posted. I became an Instagram lurker, one of those people who likes pictures and watches everyone else posting but never participates.
But slowly I drifted back and decided I would take Instagram seriously again.
If I wanted to be a serious blogger, then I needed to not just lurk online but to participate, to share and be part of this world.
So I started editing my photos to make them a little nicer. I started putting in a bit more of an effort to figure out the colours and style that I wanted to display in my feed.
I started to see Instagram as just another outlet for my creativity
I discovered it could be another place to be curious, excited and inspired.
And in the process I found there was a community of people just like me. People who weren’t there to make sales, who didn’t look like models, who weren’t portraying these impossible standards.
I found people with the same values as me.
Who were passionate about mindfulness and living intentionally and being present in the moment.
People who weren’t pushing consumption, asking their followers to buy more and more and more. People who just wanted to share their art, their words and their pictures with the world.
My kind of people.
And so Instagram has become one of my favourite social media platforms. I place where I can connect with other creatives. I place where I can feel inspired and uplifted. I place where I can create and share my work.
I think the rise of influencer marketing is a double-edged sword.
I hate the way it encourages mindless consumption. The way it makes us feel like we are always lacking something. The way it portrays a lifestyle that is unrealistic, even for those taking the photos.
But I love that it enables small businesses and lesser-known creatives to shine. I love that it makes connection and community possible. And that this form of marketing gives power back to the people.
How do we choose authenticity over perfection online?
By following people who are genuine.
Those who share their behind-the-scenes and aren’t afraid of the messy aspects of life. Those who are honest about which of their content that is sponsored. Those who only share what they truly love and believe in.
By un-following people who make us feel less-than.
You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. It doesn’t matter how cool or popular they may be, you don’t need to compare yourself to them. There are only so many people’s pictures you can scroll through in a day, so they might as well be people you actually LOVE to follow.
By choosing community over competition.
Search for people who care about the same stuff you do. Find your community and build them up. Comment on, like and share others accounts, there is enough space for all of us to be creative and successful.
Let’s chat about this in the comments…
How do you feel about Instagram, influencer marketing or social media in general?