Instagram. The Tragic Tale of Compare & Despair
A question I get asked time and time again is ‘how do I manage to remain so fabulous at all times yet still consistently produce outstanding design and also restore top end furniture - piece after piece after piece?’
Only kidding. Never been asked anything like it.
Instagram is a funny one isn’t it. I started with it back in the day when it was totally cool to filter the fuck out of anything you uploaded. The more crackling and vignette you could apply the better. If you could ram an over the top border on there then you were really playing your A game. Of course back in these days I was a happy go lucky coffee drinker in hipster city centre bars, taking more than my fair share of arty shots of daisies in milk bottles etc etc. Every now and then my eyes would glance across my follower number and perhaps take in that it had gone up or down. I’m not even actually sure I did to be honest. I always noticed the amount of likes a picture would get, but I think that’s more down to a predisposed genetic reaction more than anything else.
Fast forward 8 years and we are not in Kansas anymore people. In my instance my profession changed and I began to run my own company and so I started coming at it all from the new angle of ‘more followers could mean a stronger business in the long term’. I feel like the whole game has kind of changed for everyone now though hasn’t it. From the interiors obsessed stay at home mum to the dangerously skinny gym obsessed cowboy hat wearing socialites, it’s all about the followers and the likes.
There are courses you can go on to tell you how to get more likes, more follows, more interaction, more, more and more of everything. You can listen to podcast upon podcast analysing and dissecting every aspect of what makes ‘lovely squares’ and the difference between your main feed and your ‘stories’. You can pay companies to managed your instagram. YOU CAN PAY COMPANIES TO MANAGE YOUR INSTAGRAM!?? Hashtags are key, always use 30, no more no less or the internet will break. Always tell everyone your life is utterly fabulous but (and here is the trick) link that with a slightly imperfect yet highly curated image. Or even better, brag about how bonkers your life is. The piece de resistance of course is just having a mental breakdown on your insta and then pulling up a pew with a brew awaiting the ‘you ok hun?’ and the ‘you’re amazing, just focus on being you’ messages. Oh yes and you can also sign up to newsletters by other instagramers that will send you weekly nuggets of wisdom on how to claw in as many followers as you can.
I got sucked into Instagram earlier this year. Sucked in I tells ya. The driven, competitive side of me kicked in and I decided that there has to be a basic formula to all of this. So I decided to do what I have always done in the past in order to achieve a goal. I read up, I looked around me at what others were doing and then I practiced my arse off at working to get the right blend to improve my presence on insta. Took about 3 weeks to reach burnout.
Then I read the phrase ‘compare and despair’ somewhere. The idea that we measure our own success against that of others based on minimal details. This isn’t something I’ve ever suffered from but I realised I had contracted it in recent times. I was constantly looking at the work I had produced and measuring it against other, more engaging or ‘successful’ work. Fucking major alarm bells started clanging in my head. I had allowed myself to get sucked in to the vortex of instagram algorithm desperado hell. I was chasing likes and follows like they actually meant something. They do not. If instagram disappeared tomorrow, if we all woke up and the tile had gone from our phones not only would our lives simplify rapidly, but the only people that would be worse off for it financially are those at the top of the chain.
We all know them. They’re normally self employed, and in their eyes they run the MOST popular and MOST successful businesses. They don’t have time for anything literally. Just so busy. No one can even fathom how they fit in the umpteen blogs they churn out a week reinforcing how fabulous they are alongside the seemingly never-ending instagram stories about their success. It seems a miracle they find time to take a shit let alone update us on how glamorous said shit was.
When I read on peoples feed about how utterly busy they are and how they simply do not know how they are managing to fit in all the quality work they are totally producing whilst still responding to the many people that are desperate to employ them or collaborate with them in one way or another what I think is; ‘why are you telling me this?’. Why do I need to know how great your life is? The rest of us are out there making the dream happen whilst these people seem to be more focussed on curating the dream.
By all means I want to see nice images. I will always want to see them in whatever format they come in, but do I want to know how great things are for you as a stranger to me? No. Why? Because I alongside the rest of the planet, am only human and have to work at not comparing myself to you. For the most part I manage it, but for a little while I didn’t which led me to look around and see a lot, a big lot, of people who don’t manage it effectively either or maybe at all. There is a lot of frailty out there and a lot of low self esteem. More than likely to be the exact issues that many of the bragging instagramers suffer from themselves.
I’m no fool. I know that human nature is what it is and we are all different. It’s what makes us great. But my question is, if you are a person that suffers from looking around you and feeling like others are doing better then what good does it serve to start banging your own drum about how great things are for you? We end up in a cycle of compare and despair. One that can be broken at any time by any of us.
How about we all agree to carry on championing our best insta images but tone down the ‘I’m fabulous’ parades that go underneath your square? You’ll feel better because you won’t have to concoct a bunch of shite on the regular(and underneath it all we all know it's shite), and the rest of us will too, because we’ll see you as human. Then we will feel more human and everyone will come down just a tiny notch. Just a smidge. Back down to calm and feeling ok about who you are. Back to normal. Back to reality. Namaste mother fuckers!