Serving up Instagram realness

Last week I wrote a post on Instagram about how I’d be attempting to post less, judge less, envy less and put my phone down more, enjoy the people and things around me more and relax more.

IG isn’t meant for long-form writing, so I thought I’d use this platform to further share how I’m feeling about social media (particularly IG), in hopes of letting you see more of me and maybe helping someone find solace in my words.

I’m bored with Instagram. It all looks the same. Everyone copies what others are doing without thinking about whether it’s right for them or their brand or their business (I’m probably just as guilty). You see pictures of success and think that maybe if you try that, you’ll be successful, too.

It’s so easy to say, “ok Liz, if it’s so annoying, why don’t you just quit Instagram?” and I wish it were that easy. It is that easy. But the anxiety that comes with having a business that doesn’t live on Instagram is terrifying. It’s how I get a lot of business and it feels foolish to stop completely. And then there’s the fear that if I’m not watching someone’s stories, liking their posts and leaving positive “you got this, girl!” comments, then I’m somehow not supporting them. Or I’ll miss out on the conversations. Or they’ll stop supporting me—either consciously or subconsciously because I’m not top of mind.

The thing is, I like sharing. But only when it feels natural and authentic and not like I’m doing it just because “you should post once a day” or whatever other bullshit rules there are. So no, I don’t want to go away for good, but I need to set boundaries.

Instead of using Instagram to get “inspired,” I’m going to use the time that I’d normally spend scrolling to spend time with Eric and the pets and my friends and get outside and read and watch the shows I like (and I mean ACTUALLY watch them, not just kind of watch them as I also look at my phone). I don’t even get inspired—I just get anxiety that my IG page doesn’t have a “consistent color scheme.”

If this all sounds so silly, that’s because it is. But it’s a real thing.

Rhiannon Bosse recently wrote a blog post about social media and perfectly summed up my feelings on quitting and being part of the problem:

“And as I nod my head and feel my anxiety start to slip away so too do visions of pristine interiors, manicured hands and perfect foamed lattes, half open smiles captured in perfect headshots that can’t be real smiles but they look pretty and approachable, OOTDs (you know, outfits of the day) that rival my maternity sweats and always make me wonder how environmentally friendly all those clothes are, and flat lays of all the pastel hued things. Actually, flat lays of ANYthing. I realize these aren’t the problem. They are a part of it. I AM a part of it. I am contributing more blush and imperfect-words-paired-with-perfect-imagery to the pile.

The last line could not be more perfect. OMG THE BLUSH PINK. I used to love blush pink. I chose it for my wedding. I still think it’s a pretty color! But social media has made me never want to see a blush brand again in my life. And the imperfect words? SPOT ON. All of a sudden it’s THE THING to do. And I’m not saying it’s wrong to share or be vulnerable if that’s authentic to you, but it just feels like more of the same when your “real” words are pasted below your perfectly posed photo. Yes, I’m guilty of this too. No, I don’t know the solution.

I do think it’s interesting that we’re gravitating towards these longer IG posts lately—both writing them and reading them. It’s nice to get to know the person behind the squares. But isn’t that saying something even louder about us? That we’re craving connections and realness? Instead of double tapping a post about your friend’s feelings, try inviting her out for a drink to chat about them.

Please don’t think this is me on my soapbox because I know I’m part of the problem. But the least I can do is acknowledge these thoughts and work on ways to be better, for myself and others. And hopefully you’ll be there supporting me whether I’ve liked your latest IG post or not 😊

Elizabeth SmithComment