I've vaguely touched on this subject before on my Instagram feed but I feel like now more than ever, I need to write an actual blog post on the subject.
The pressures of social media, in particular, Instagram.
Before Instagram, we all managed to eat a meal when it was hot, we didn't need to take several photos of it first (guilty as charged, I have a foodie account as well to inspire me to keep on track of Slimming World.) Before Instagram we decorated and styled our homes in a way that we wanted to without feeling the need to go out and buy the latest Instagram trend in order to fit in. Before Instagram, we brought flowers and put them straight in the vase, we didn't rip the petals off half of the roses and style them into shapes, nor did we put them in a basket it on a peg. I do get it though, some people enjoy it and that's fine. I'm not knocking that.But, what I'm basically saying is. There was a life before Instagram and for most of us, we were happy with that life.
We parented the way we wanted to without worrying that we weren't doing it the way "Instamums" were doing it.
This is the bit were I need to stipulate how much I detest the term Instamum/dad/kids/dog and so on. I don't object to people using Instagram as a platform for earning a living but seriously, do we need yet another bracket to put ourselves in and compare others to?
I see it everyday, people on Instastories apologising for wearing no make up (I've been so guilty of this too many times) apologising because their is laundry in the background, apologising because the children are being exceptionally loud, apologising for basically, being normal.
I ask the question, why are we apologising?
The answer is simple. Because Instagram has made us feel like we need to. Instagram has made us feel like unless the house is immaculately tidy, we can't post a photo because it may not get enough likes (that likes and followers things pisses me off too.) Instagram has made us feel like our walls need to be painted with Farrow & Ball in order to fit in, Instagram has made us feel like we have to stand in fields of corn before harvesting season wearing a straw hat (how very Teresa May naughty of you.) Instagram is literally full of "Instagram made me do it" lately and I'm not sure I like it. Back off with the pressure.
The one thing I do enjoy about this Instagram trend is that it's changed the way I photograph my family, the children in particular. I no longer feel like I need to ask them form an orderly line and ask them to say cheese. I've been inspired by other accounts to take natural photos of them surrounded by the natural beauty around us, it's made me appreciated those moments more. I no longer face objections from them because they don't want staged photos, they can just be children and I can captured those moments. In years to come, my photographs will tell a proper story and my Grandchildren will see their parents just as they once were.
Don't get me wrong, I've also found lots of decor inspiration from Instagram, but, when I'm inspired, I don't copy. I do my own take on something. Our house is just that. It's ours. It's not a carbon copy of an Instagram account and I think this is part of the problem. People complain that they're repeatedly "copied" but that's what happens when you open your life up so publicly. People will follow suit and eventually, everyone's house has the same cushions, the same rug, the same everything. By photographing and posting your home, you're opening yourself up to allow people to do so, therefore, complaining about it is really pointless. And, I often think, do you really need to complain when you've copied your idea from Pinterest anyway. You copied it from someone else!
Sometimes I wish I'd never joined Instagram and lately I find myself having a very love hate relationship with it. I love the friends I've made and the genuine connections with people, I love the inspiration that I find and the support we give each other. What I don't like about it, is seeing so many people feeling like they don't fit in because their house is far from Pinterest and Instagram worthy in their eyes. Well who says it isn't? Who makes the decision as to what is Instagram worthy or not? My house is very Instagram worthy. Why? Because it's mine. Because I style the way I want to rather than conforming to the way I feel I should.
I've started to feel lately like there's a lot of playground activity on Instagram. There are groups forming and it's becoming more and more obvious to me by the day. Yes, friendships are forming and it's amazing to see. I for one have made lots of friends through Instagram and speak to them daily outside of it now. But there is also now a bit of "gang" activity. Not the criminal style, that would be going to the extreme. I mean like the ones at school, there would be the popular gang, the rich gang, the librarian gang and the outcast gang. It's taking shape on Instagram and I'm not keen.
So many people tell me that big accounts don't give them time of day when they comment because their account isn't all themed and fancy, they tell me their comments get ignored and yet they see accounts interacting with others who have a higher number of followers. Why would anybody do that? Just because their sofa isn't Laura Ashley does that mean they're not worth talking to? My reply is always the same, stop wasting your time trying, move on, it's says more about them than it does you and let's be fair here, we don't know half the people behind the accounts in real life, some of them could be complete dicks.
Now it's holiday season, I'm seeing the same photographs day in and day out. Its a very "if you don't Instagram this photo then did you go away" mentality which for me personally, is a shame. Enjoy the time away, relax, have fun. To me, the last thing I want to do when I'm on holiday is make sure I've got at least 5 of the photos everyone else has just so I can fit in with the virtual crowd. When I'm away, I just want to forget the world and embrace everything and everyone around me, fitting in with Instagram is the last thing on my mind. It's pressure nobody needs.
I think this is were the problem is for me, I'm falling out of love with Instagram because it's become so samey. Last night, I scrolled through and saw 6 photographs in a row that were almost the same and at one point, I thought the account had multiple posted by mistake. I ended up just putting my phone down and not looking at everyone else's pictures. It's becoming a bit Groundhog Day for me. People aren't just photographing the same thing, they're now saying the same things in their captions. It's almost like it's a trend to say what we think everyone wants to hear. For me, I can see through it pretty easily. For example, when someone who was once very prude and never so much as swore suddenly starts talking non stop about her tits, I'm a little bit over it. They sound like someone they're not, or maybe, they were being someone they're not before. It's impossible to get to know an account when they're not being true to themselves from the very start and I often wonder if they do this because they feel pressured to be that way in order to fit in with the crowd or gain followers?
Some accounts that I know personally for example, will write something on a caption and I can't help but eye roll because I know they're not being genuine, I know it's false but yet others seem so blind to it. But it's not my problem to worry about, so I don't. I just cut them off because I don't have time for fake people. It's not who I am and I don't entertain it in the slightest anymore.
I sound so ranty right now and I'm sorry, kind of. But sometimes, I feel things just need to be said and this is my blog. I say what I think because it's my online diary I guess and it's where I can sit my thoughts.
The long and short of it is this. Stop feeling like you have to conform, if you feel like your pressured to fit in with a crowd, stop following accounts that make you feel that way. You'll find the same inspiration elsewhere and more often than not, it's around you in the most unexpected of places. You don't have to do something because Instagram tells you to. You don't have to be anything but yourself. Only when you be yourself will you not feel the pressure, because you won't care. I guess that's the stage I'm at now. And now I am, I'm hoping I start to fall back in love with Instagram again.
I'm going to share some lovely accounts with you that I follow on Instagram and absolutely love following because they're so open and honest, they're very real and best of all, the always take the time to speak to everyone who takes the time to speak to them.
Anna at blossomingbirds
Emma at littlewoodlife
Chelsea at ohsomint
Carys at ccaryschapman
Zoe at a_littlebitoflife
Lucy at allthingsbeautifullymade
Eleanor at the.king.and.the.bear
Jo at jocumberland
Charlotte at thehomethatmademe
Pati at patirobins
Christa at lifeatlynchgreen
Lucy at _itslucy_
Georgie at georgie.l.lloyd
Angela at my.style.story
Harley at harleyraynorxo
Leanne at Leanne.db
These are just a few lovely ladies that do it their way, and they are amazing at it too. In all honesty, you're more than welcome to snoop through anyone I follow on Instagram as I only follow accounts that I genuinely have a lot of time for.