A few weeks ago I had to stop following a few dozen extremely popular Instagrammers because I was feeling bad about the state of my messy house, messy studio and messy kids. It's a really big deal for me to admit feelings of insecurity. I am a tough love gal, not a wallflower, which is pushing me to write this because I bet some of you feel the same. And guess what? It's ok, and there are ways to stop feeling this way. I read this article in the NYTimes Sunday Styles about social media stars using their Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr followings to advocate big brands and make big bucks, and I am feeling like, ugh really?
Big brands are paying upwards of 6 figures for Instagrammers to post pictures of themselves advocating their brands. I am all for smart and creative advertising, but for some reason I feel like advertising brands through your Instagram account to your followers is inauthentic and a bit smarmy. Of both the big brand and the person.
Is it my insecurity? My FOMO? Am I a 38 year old mom insecure of what other moms are doing, successfully-- like running a business, taking great pictures of their clean kids having spectacular fun on their homemade sensory tables, having a coffee with those custom swirls on top then whipping up a delectable dinner from a Pinterest post, and topping off the evening with a date night with their husband who is home at a reasonable hour?
I can't be the only person who feels this way.
Maybe I need to shift how I view Instagram. Maybe it is just another social media tool to push your business. I push my brand voice to my followers on all the social platforms I am on, I am not making money by any stretch of the imagination, but I am guilty of it. I believe in what I do and what I say. Is DesignLoveFest really, truly in love with Epson? Did France really pay for all of these big time Instagrammers to go to France to take pictures to share with their followers? And why the hell does it bother me?
On Facebook I can tell when I am being marketed too; it's obvious. Twitter too. I am following a brand, like Lululemon, not a person. On Instagram I thought I was following people.
When the photos become so perfected, so clean, so not real, I can't handle it. I feel bad about myself. Why doesn't my house look like that? Why aren't all of my walls sparingly white with beautiful light floating in at the right time on my clean smiling kids?
Because it's not real.
The NYTimes articles says, "Here, authenticity — a word that comes up often in this arena — trumps a Photoshop-perfect facade or publicist-approved message. Some of these agents (social media agents) want to groom their clients (or creators, as they’re often called) into marquee names who can resonate beyond a smartphone screen." In the world I am in: women-owned businesses with a flair for DIY and entrepreneurship, social media is necessary, we have to hustle our businesses to gain business. I am guilty of staging a shot on Instagram, but I don't want to be made money off of my "like." And is it really more authentic? Is it not Photoshopped?
I had breakfast with Margot Harrington who said she uses Instagram to follow artists for inspiration, and I thought that was a super positive way to utilize the app, so I stopped following even more accounts that even made me feel the slightest bit insecure or doubtful of myself and started following a bunch of calligraphers and hand drawn type artists.
Vana Chupp sent me a keynote address from Alt Summit of Joy Cho, one of the accounts I stopped following. She was speaking about her business journey over the years. I listened to the entire hour and am extremely impressed with her poise, push, drive, success, and integrity in how she started and has propelled her brand voice through social media and artful products and design. Given the opportunity I would be her friend in a heart beat. Love her funky bright and crafted patterns and style.
But I can't follow her Instagram feed--it's too perfect and makes me feel bad. And would she be my friend? Probably not. Just because I follow someone on Instagram, or any social media platform and see a peek at their life, they are in no way looking at mine. Do they care about me? No. After I stopped following the popular kids I realized I didn't miss them. They don't care about my life, why should I care about theirs?
I remember a few years ago Mana Ionescu hosted a social media 'in an hour a day' talk at Mac & Cheese Productions where she suggested turning off your alerts and instead checking social media 1-2 times a day. Last week I turned off my alerts for LinkedIn and Facebook. It has really cleared my head, and I know I can use social media when I want to turn on.
Would I change my tune if France offered me a round-trip ticket to eat bread, drink wine and roam the country side? Probably. But for now, I'll just have to live my real life which is real, messy, creative, DIY, and mine and that's just as nice. Chin chin!
How do you feel about social media, is it a good witch or a bad witch? Do you FOMO?