Thursday, 12 July 2018

Why I Love Instagram but Still get it Wrong


Why I Love Instagram, but Still Get it Wrong - Instagram CollageThere are certain things I really like about social media, and certain things I don't. It has great power to affect a person's mood, outlook, even relationships, which isn't good, but on the other hand, it can provide a lifeline for people who are lonely, or just not very confident socially. The key seems to be not to take it too seriously, which is why I'm particularly fond of Instagram. It's mainly inoffensive pictures and quotes and a mindless scroll is quite relaxing. Also I love taking photos and looking at other photos, so it's perfect for me. It seems, though, that I've been doing it all wrong, but I'm not about to change. Here's why.

On Instagram, in the main, people post happy moments, not ambiguous statuses or inflammatory comments, so you don't run the risk of getting drawn into arguments or other people's dramas. Maybe, because it's more fast-paced, people don't tend to linger so much for a virtual punch-up, but  whatever the reason, it makes for a different social media experience. I know there's an argument that people aren't 'real' on Instagram and they show an unrealistic view of their lives through their pictures, but that's like saying women are showing an unrealistic view of themselves by wearing make up or dying their hair, or men are not giving an honest impression by wearing a toupee or having a Wayne Rooney-esque hair transplant. It's not unreasonable to want to show your best side, whether it's your home, your outfit, or your dinner, it's human nature.  

A sunset with the silhouette of a tree branch and leaves in the foreground


Don't get me wrong, either, I love socialising on other social media too, but sometimes you just want to flick through pretty pictures and not get too involved. The other advantage is that it's a lot more acceptable to follow people you don't know, just because you enjoy their feed and there doesn't seem to be the same obligation to follow people just because you know who they are in real life. So that's a few reasons why I enjoy flicking through Instagram. I treat it like a virtual photo album, flicking through the highlights of my friends' lives, as well as enjoying the photography of other talented folk I also really enjoy photos to my own instagram feed and, I will admit, I like it when people like my stuff. It's not vanity, at least, I don't think it is, it's more... validation, I suppose. Maybe it's silly, maybe I shouldn't care, but it's nice when you can say, 'Hey, I took this photo, I quite like it!' and other people say, 'I agree, it's pretty good!' I don't think I'm a great photographer, but I would like to be, and I'm always trying to improve, so it's great to have an audience to try my photos out on.

Rear view of a boy looking out over the railing at Swansea beach


You see, when I go down my feed, I 'like' most of the photos. I'm like grandma with a photo album, I just love everything. I like them, because effort went into them, I like them because my friends posted them and their happy makes me happy, and sometimes I like them because I can tell whoever posted it is really happy or proud of their moment and I want to reinforce that and continue their happy. Sounds bonkers? Possibly, but that's what I like to do. I've noticed that I don't get many likes, though, not proportionally to the ones I give out, anyway. Sometimes, I even get comments, saying it's a great photo, but I still don't get many likes. Which is fine, I don't give to receive, or 'like for like' as the expression goes, but it did interest me, so I did some research and it turns out that I'm doing Instagram wrong. I found out that even if someone follows you, they may not see your posts. This is down to a few factors. Apparently, Instagram has an algorithm that decides how many people see a post, a bit like Facebook, with it's non-chronological newsfeed, so however good the photo, it won't necessarily be viewed by many.

Rylan Clark-Neal at a This Morning event.


Using the right hashtags can help, but finding out what they are is something of a science. If you get it right, you can rate high for that particular hashtag, and more people who search the hashtag will see it, but that doesn't help you be seen by the people who follow you, the ones that might actually want to see your stuff.  As well as that, there are people who will follow a feed, just to get a follow back, and then unfollow again, so it looks like they have lots of follows, and some people even buy followers. This is the competitive side of social media and I think it sucks. While I was researching, I found other advice all about using the right backgrounds, 'curating' your feed, and improving the quality of your photographs in other ways. This made me a little sad, because photography is an artform and therefore, subjective. Just because one person doesn't like a photo, because it isn't bright enough, or the background is too crazy, maybe someone else likes that style, or will still appreciate the content of the image, or the sentiment behind it. I think it would be really boring if everyone's feed was the same, and I think it would be so much better if we could just be ourselves and express our own personalities through our posts and images. So, I'm going to carry on doing Instagram wrong and maybe I'll never get many likes, or followers, but I will enjoy being part of the small community I do have and being myself. I'll still like most of the posts I see, for a world of reasons, without a thought for the rules and maybe I'll find others who feel the same along the way.


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