Social media is something I feel pressured into doing in a certain way. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Instagram. I don’t follow or interact with people unless I genuinely like what they’re doing. I first started posting pics because I enjoyed it.
Being a nerd, I wanted to learn a bit more about it. Why use hashtags?What is an algorithm.
It led me down an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of information.
You have to spy on your ‘competitors’, use certain hashtags and post at certain times of day. You have to post a certain number of times a day or there’s no point because nobody will see your stuff. You shouldn’t use the same hashtag too many times or you’ll get ‘shadowbanned’ (what the hell is shadow banning? how many times is too many times?). You need a consistent style. People prefer images with certain colours. You need to have a ‘niche’ and ‘find your tribe’ and plan and schedule your feed….
None of that seemed particularly social to me.
What used to be a simple image sharing platform has evolved to become so contrived, so calculated and so political that the whole business left me with a rather nasty taste in my mouth.
And then insta stories came out and it got even more complicated.
It seems that on social media, we are encouraged to be creative and express ourselves. As long as that creativity and expression is planned, researched and consistent - the very antithesis of creativity and expression Click To Tweet.
It needs to fit neatly in a specific box that has clearly defined parameters, and is delivered in a regular, timely fashion to a researched, prescribed set of people.
Why are we increasingly made to believe that we need to break ourselves up into little pieces and have our interests compartmentalised in order to fit tidily into clearly labelled hashtaggable SEO driven buckets in order to be a functional and valued part of the social media biosphere?
I just wanted to post pictures of stuff that interests me and make new friends.
It felt like I was having to come up with a business plan and marketing strategy just to play on Instagram, and frankly I was not prepared to invest that much time and research into something that is just supposed to be a bit of fun for a few minutes a day. I ended up feeling rather overwhelmed, disillusioned, and lost.
The whole thing just stopped being fun, so I decided to have a breather for 6 months.
Also, the more I start thinking for myself, the more I want to rebel against internet ‘experts’ who have ‘hacked the system’ telling me what I should do or how I should be. I refuse to believe that unless I march to their tune and do things their way that there is no point to doing it at all.
Why should I feel pressured into having multiple Instagram accounts which must be maintained on a schedule with relevant researched hashtags and defined target markets?
No wonder people are increasingly having identity crises and information overload!
EVERY self-proclaimed ‘social media guru’ harps on about finding your ‘niche’ (which they almost always mispronounce as ‘nitch’, which drives me mental).
For all my rebellious pig-headedness, even I have fallen prey on several occasions to thinking “oh well this isn’t my ‘brand’ so I can’t really have this on my account and this other thing doesn’t really fit with my channel’s aesthetic.. but I’m interested in both things and I want to share them somewhere, so maybe I need to create another social account for these other type of things”…
I’m a person, not a brand.
What does it matter if I’m interested in two or more things that don’t fit tidily alongside each other?
Life is messy. And it’s messy enough all by itself without me trying to complicate it even further. What’s going to cause me more stress and hassle in the long run? My feed looking like a patchwork quilt? Or maintaining multiple social media accounts with multiple styles for multiple interests on multiple channels with multiple audiences? How much work and time am I actually prepared to put into a simple hobby before it becomes a chore that I don’t even enjoy any more?
It’s like my post about texting – why use and upkeep multiple utilities if one does the job just fine.
We shouldn’t judge ourselves by the boxes we are or are not able to fit into! Rather, should we perhaps be judging the boxes themselves, and questioning their necessity?
The whole point of social media is to connect people together and share our views, opinions, and information. I don’t know many people who are interested in just one thing, and that is the very thing that makes them real, relatable and interesting. That’s what makes me want to interact with them.
I understand the mechanics of it. If a user has an account that is heavily dominated by pink backgrounds and floral flatlays, and uses a hashtag like #pinkfloralflatlays then other people will find and follow them because they like pink and flowers and flatlays too. They will even join in the hashtag game, because they know what to expect from that user if their whole feed is like that.
If @pinkfloralflatlays suddenly starts throwing up selfies with their dog up a mountain then they’ll lose followers and their hashtag will lose its integrity and their account will lose traction. This is because people have come to expect that one very specific thing from them.
If that’s your jam and all you want to put out into the world is pink floral flatlays then great! But not everyone has, or wants to have such a narrow focus. That should not be something that works against us, or makes us feel bad about ourselves because we don’t have a specific ‘niche’.
Surely the hashtagging works as enough of a filter to show people the things they want to see without peoples entire accounts having to be so unified and tightly constrained?
The danger of all this analysis done by these so-called ‘experts’ is that the internet is just generating variations on a theme in order to feel included in the game.
I can’t tell you how many stationery flatlays I’ve seen on a marble background with white and gold desk accessories. I can’t tell you how many white ‘minimalist’ bedrooms I’ve seen that have monsteras and fig plants in identical baskets in the corner of the room. There are so many ‘epic wanderlust’ style photos of tents parked in stupid places that there’s even a pisstake account dedicated to them called @youdidnotsleepthere (which is well worth a visit for the lols to be fair.)
There is so much of the same stuff being regurgitated that I kind of lose track of who took what because they all blend into one, and as a result the concept as well as the person producing the content become stale and rapidly lose interest and value for me.
There is a quote I have always loved. I have seen variations of it attributed to the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Walter Lippmann and George S. Patton – the gist of which is:
I’m interested in lots of things. Those things change. That’s ok. I’m interested in something and the total opposite of that thing and that’s ok too.
I don’t want to compartmentalise my interests – why should I, just to satisfy some social media equation?
Some days I’m in awe of nature, some days I’m geeking out over interior design or hand lettering. Some days I am brimming with creativity and inspiration. Other tumbleweed blows around in my mind. Some days I can’t get enough of my DSLR. Other days I really don’t want to lug a heavy camera and two lenses around with me, and would rather just take my phone.
Some days, like today, I have a lot to say about something. Other days I don’t.I don't think I should say, or produce something just for the sake of filling in a time slot on a schedule prescribed by some marketing 'guru'. That’s not inconsistent - that's being human, and that’s normal, and it's very easy to… Click To Tweet
If I was trying to make a career out of this thing then fine, by all means bring in the marketing team and be as scheduled and researched and calculated as you like. But the fact is, I’m not. I’m writing this blog because it’s a creative outlet and a small platform for me to say what I think. I’m on youtube because I like sharing ideas and learning from others, I’m on instagram because I like taking and viewing a wide range of photography, and it’s a place like pinterest, where white bedrooms sit alongside pumpkin pie recipes and icelandic musk oxen, but unlike pinterest, and more like twitter, instagram has a person behind it who is creating and engaging in a far more active and direct way.
I’m a multi-faceted, forgetful and curious human being. I am not an algorithm, and that is how I’m going to use social media.
Who really cares if I’m inconsistent? I don’t care if I don’t have one specific niche that I can squeeze into. And I don’t care if I never achieve 40k followers on Instagram. It doesn’t make me less of a person, or less creative or interesting than I was before I joined instagram. I didn’t even know how many Instagram followers I had until I checked just now. After a 6 month absence I’ve only lost 25 followers. This tells me that people genuinely don’t care how often you post if they like what you do. If you’re an average Josephine like me and not some internet ‘celebrity’, very few people will follow you so closely that they’ll even notice your absence.
So here’s to eclecticism – to expressing yourself in your own way, on your own timeline and on your own terms. And to hell with the rules!