I’ve written before about how much I dislike my smart phone. And I really do. I don’t like it. I don’t get notifications on my phone and I try to use it as much like a regular, non-internet, semi-non-functioning phone most of the time. When I travel I find use in it so I can keep up with emails, but even that makes me a little queasy.
So, when I started hearing the word “Instagram” float around I was confused, as usual. I only found out how to download an app in September of this year. I only found out what an app was in June. So, needless to say, I’m usually behind on the times. Back in January this year I was with my friend Olivia and she managed to download Instagram on my phone. I only had a smart phone for a couple of weeks at that point. She showed me how to take pictures with it, how to download and upload pics from the internet. Basically, she set me up to be an Instagram QUEEN.
Of course, things didn’t actually happen that smoothly. I didn’t like it. I had my account, I figured out where the little IG button was hiding, and I clicked it every now and then. I managed to upload 50 pictures this year. I even got into a groove at one point, uploading daily. But that did not last long.
I was introduced to an internet culture that I had not properly experienced before. It isn’t just an Instagram thing. It isn’t, and can’t be, tied down like that. It is a way of using social media that I don’t find personally fulfilling, though there is nothing inherently wrong with it. I became disenchanted by: people uploading for the sake of getting views. People celebrating half naked pictures of young women without thinking about the consequences of celebrating that type of beauty in that way. People who are focused on trends instead of self-expression. And that, too, is my problem for not digging deeper. I found I was lacking time to invest in it, and it just didn’t suit me.
If someone is in this for the fun of it – have fun! Not everyone has to be so serious (nor should everyone be), and not everyone has to use IG or any other site for the potential to share art. In fact, that probably isn’t even the point of it. It is what it is, and what it is is probably not for me.
I saw some of the good side of Instagram as well. I saw the people who were doing amazing things with their phones, who were editing on iPhones and uploading to IG and getting the praise they deserved for their truly unique images. I even enjoy following certain people just to see their day to day lives. I like that kind of thing and don’t always have to be focused on Art. The biggest problem with me was that I don’t like to share my day-to-day life. I can be quite private, and wanted to use the platform to share my images. I actually think Instagram can be pretty darn cool, but I’m just not a very cool chick.
Sometimes it is easy to get sucked into the idea that if a social network exists, we must be a part of it. Join or perish. Tweet or die. Instagram or insta-gone.
I felt that push. I created an account even though I didn’t have any interest in it. I thought it was the right thing to do (right for who, though?). And in the mess that was my Instagram experience, I learned a valuable lesson about myself: I would rather have exactly ZERO Instagram followers and not worry about fitting in than to feel the pressure of social media to conform. I still love social media. I love interacting with people. I love making those human connections. I love the feeling of knowing that I can talk to a group of supportive and loving individuals should the occasion arise. What I do not like, however, is the pull of social media to be BIGGER than before, or to gain more followers exponentially.
A lot of this comes down to the idea that we can choose positivity in our lives. We can choose to focus on the good rather than the bad. We can choose to see the beautiful side of life. And I found that Instagram was something that continually presented a side to life that I would rather be blind to, and so I stopped looking. Simple as that. It is no one else’s problem but my own, and for that I am grateful.