08 MAY 2019, BY MY PASSPORT TO SHANGRILA
If you are of a certain age do you remember the days before social media? Your life wasn’t spent uploading countless selfies for the world to see and comment upon on an Instagram or Facebook account.
Instead we took selfies in a different way with the Instagram of the time – a Polaroid Instant Camera. We were happy then to take a selfie, show our immediate friends, have a giggle then file it away in an album; the only audience were ourselves.
However, having a social media presence nowadays is as important as that Polaroid camera back in the 80s (yes, I’m that old!)
Social media comes on many platforms and no matter which one or ones you choose to use they do offer something great whether it’s being able to reconnect with long lost friends or perhaps keeping in touch with family the other side of the world. Social media can have a negative effect on your self worth if you find yourself defining your life by likes or comments on your posts (you know who you are)
Not long back I was catching a tram from my local tram stop heading into Manchester city centre when I overheard a dialogue between two girls who would have been no older than 14years old. They were sitting next to each other and in short were criticising each others Instagram accounts…
“I got 230 likes on this photo I posted the other day.”
“Really? Is that all” her friend replied covering her mouth as she laughed.
“I have way more followers than you.”
“What’s the most likes you’ve ever had? Mine is 323. The photo of me doing that selfie next to that person who was painted silver standing still looking like a statue in town. Remember?.”
I wouldn’t mind if the above conversation were a figment of my imagination, but sadly these were the words that came out of their mouths. When I was their age I remember trying to record the Top 40 on the radio of a Sunday evening trying my hardest to edit out all the talking over the songs by the DJ, or trying to complete the next level of Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Megadrive.
I can understand that growing up as a teenager in 2019 is grossly different to what it was like for me in the early 90s before the invention of the apps and social media. Having an Instagram account now is just as normal to my days of owning and exchanging football stickers in a sticker book.
What I found quite disconcerting when I heard this conversation is that these girls probably don’t fully comprehend the reality of Instagram. I couldn’t help think that these girls might not totally understand that the volumes of photographs published are highly likely to be airbrushed, filtered or enhanced in some way.
With my Instagram posts I will often take tens of photographs of the same thing and then choose the best one. I haven’t just taken one and then filtered it to an inch of its life. The successful candidate has been selected out of the many.
When posting moments you shouldn’t define yourself and you shouldn’t be comparing yourself to other peoples feeds. A person who may have 20k followers could be really unhappy and lonely, yet a person with 100 followers could be the happiest. It’s not healthy to obsess over what everyone else is doing and whether or not you are doing better than them.
Unlike those two girls on the tram the likes on a photo shouldn’t have any impact on your well-being. Post photographs because you enjoy them and want to share them, or start a blog because you enjoy writing and want others to enjoy what you have to say. That alone should bring you enough happiness, that as your audience organically grows, you know it is being liked for the correct reasons.
Australia is one of the first country’s to remove the ‘likes’ count from each photograph on Instagram. I would like to think at some point the ‘followers’ count will be removed too. Finally Instagram is going the way it was intended to display quality photos as opposed to a money making agenda were people could buy likes and comments (why would you to begin with!!???)