I view Instagram and social media as an art form. There is so much time and creativity put into it that often goes unnoticed. And just like with any art, we want to get it perfect. Our feeds should be aesthetically beautiful, our captions should be perfectly palpable, and our writing should be eloquent and swift. And, this work should be appreciated: it does not come without effort and it is desiring of art.
Yet, social media is different than any form of art before. While you can paint a picture and put it up in a room, it is not thought that that picture encompasses you and your life. When you post on social media though, your posts become you. They are your public representation world of who you are and what your life looks like. People assume they know you when they see your profile. And to many, this assumption feels unfair, because it brings with it a new sense of responsibility. We are responsible for showing reality in this art form, as much as beauty and perfection.
I think this responsibility is what is leading to the rise of behind the scenes posts right now. Social media is a curation of moments, but when that’s taken to represent all of reality, it can be pretty harmful. So, all of us, who spend our hours thinking about how we can create the best content possible now have something new to think about: how can we continue to make art we are proud of, while also showing reality for all that is. Behind the Scenes posts do exactly this: they show the art process. They show what the day to day looks like, including the moments of no creativity and struggles. They bring reality into this curation of moments.
My challenge for you is to think about how can you bring reality into your social media presence? How can you make your account a positive space, instead of a negative one?
I’ll be sharing a full blog post of behind the scenes moments from my latest Instagram later this week.
This word has been on my mind a lot lately in regards to almost everything in my life right now: my career path, my blog, my extracurricular involvement, and even just my interactions with others. In each of these, what is my intention? What is my purpose, my end goal?
It is so easy to lose sight of intention in this busy and loud world and nowhere is that easier than social media. Whether you’re a blogger or just someone who enjoys Instagram, you joined social media and use it for a reason. Maybe, it’s to stay informed about your friends lives and better connect with them, maybe it’s to promote a business or idea, or maybe it’s a learning space to you where you can connect with resources. Most likely, when you’re scrolling Instagram or putting together your latest caption, you aren’t thinking of this reason. You aren’t thinking about your purpose for being on social media, and that’s not your fault. In fact, social media encourages us not to think about our purpose.
Social media is paradise for a micromanager. Every detail matters on social media and none can be too well thought out. Think about presets. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time in the last two months working on my presets, trying to get the tone, tint, and lighting of my photos exactly perfect and make it so that my feed is cohesive. The crazier part is that presets are an industry: people are selling them constantly and more and more bloggers are making videos/blogs about how they edit their photos with presets.
Maybe, you haven’t gone into the preset world or engaged with them in any way, but you still probably fall into the social media micromanaging. At dinner yesterday with a friend, we spent part of our meal analyzing his photos and why they hadn’t been getting as many likes as usual. We went through every detail in these photos. Were they posted at a topically relevant time? Was the photo aesthetically pleasing or confusing? Were they posted at a high traffic time for Instagram? My friend is not even super into social media and found himself on social media’s micromanaging island.
When you’re constantly thinking about the details, it’s hard to remember there’s a big picture to even think about. Personally, this is my greatest weakness in all aspects of my life, but social media definitely exacerbates it for me. Sometimes, you need to take a step back though and think back to that original reason why you’re on social media. For me, I created my Instagram in the eighth grade, when the app was not even two years old yet. I joined because I wanted to be able to connect and share photos with friends– at the time, I followed about 10 people who I went to school with and the app felt like our collective photo album. This fall, when I started my blog, my reason for Instagram became to create a positive place of honesty, sharing, and growth. I was frustrated with how negative and purposeless a place social media, in particular Instagram, had become and I wanted to do something to change it for others, in whatever way I could.
My intention for all my social media– my blog, my instagram, my twitter, and my pinterest– is to be always be a place of kindness and honesty. I challenge you to think about your own intentions for social media. If you’re lost on where to even start, here’s some captions to ask yourself:
What reason made you download Instagram or whatever social media app you’re thinking about?
What are you proud of on your social media? Is it the artistic nature of your photos, your witty captions, or your interactions with friends or followers?
Do you feel like your in-person persona matches your social media presence? Is your social media presence helping you to be the person you want to be?
How can your social media help you in your goals as a person? Can it help you be a better friend, a better resource, or a better professional?
Are you happy with your social media presence? If not, why not and what can you do to change it?
When people respond that they feel I’ve created a place of positivity, that’s when I’m proud of my social media and feel I’ve done something right.
This is one of the posts I am proudest of– it was open and honest and truly strove to create a supportive, positive place online.
I love social media. I love Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn. Despite my love for these social networks, they aren’t always good for my mental health. However, I’ve tried to do social media cleanses and those also are not good for my mental health. So how do I go through my life with the constant flux of information about my friends, other bloggers, and celebrities being thrown at me? Here’s my few tips on how to live healthily with social media as a main part of your life.
Recognize that social media is a highlight reel. This is the most cliche tip I could ever give, but it’s the one that’s made the biggest impact in my life. The social media network that I struggle with the most is LinkedIn, where I always feel like I can’t measure up to other people’s successes. And yet, I know that everyone feels that way. Everyone is putting up the best title they can think of and writing a description that makes them sound most important on LinkedIn, while the truth is, no one has it that figured out at eighteen, twenty, or even twenty-five. Recognizing this fact has made it that I don’t have a mini-freak out about the direction of my life every time I log into LinkedIn.
Decide what content matters to you. There is so much going on on social media that it’s hard to make sense of at times. You end up viewing content that isn’t relevant to you, but now it feels like it should be. Tailor your social media to you and what you want from different platforms. On my twitter, for example, I mainly follow news outlets and not as many people I know. I want to use twitter as a platform to hear about the greater world around me. I’ve also set my Facebook so that I see lighter content there– I am a big fan of the Dogspotting Society. My Instagram is the place where I most embrace seeing my friends’ content. Having each platform have different content, it allows me to focus in on what matters to me when and also, escape the content that overwhelms me.
Think about why you’re on social media.This tip has been one of the ones to challenge me most. Why am I on social media other than the fact that everyone is today? For me, I’ve found it’s a genuine love for getting to connect with others in a format that gives me a peek into their lives. I want to pursue a career in social media marketing and it’s because of the connections that you can form through social media that motivate me.
Make your content real.I am as much a fan of Huji and photo-editing apps as the next girl, but it’s important that your content shows your reality and not what you wish your life looked like. If you had a horrible time at the party last night, don’t post the photo of you smiling just because you feel like you should. Post the real moments: the candids that weren’t staged, the smiles because you actually are having a great time, and if you dare, post the imperfect moments too. Don’t create an Instagram that doesn’t even reflect your life.
Believe in yourself. One of the reasons social media can be so difficult is that its a physical representation of validation. You can count how many people think you’re pretty though ‘likes’ and ‘reacts.’ I know I fall into this habit, specifically with twitter, where I want people to retweet me so I feel smart. Ultimately, you have to believe you are beautiful and smart, even if no one likes your photo or tweet. You have to recognize that this platform isn’t indicative of your worth as a person and you deserve success and love.
I hope these five tips help you as you navigate through this social media age we live in. Just remember, no matter what your social media looks like or how many people liked your last Instagram: you are enough.