Welcome back to the blog! You may or may not know about the drama that blew up on social media within the last month accusing bloggers and social influencers of portraying an overly perfected and unrealistic expectation of life, leading to lowering viewers’ self-esteem by making them feel inferior. As a blogger in the industry, I felt called to speak on this topic in my “Let’s Talk” series to open a discussion on it, share my thoughts and where I see social media and online influencing going in the future.
First and foremost, the word “influencer” makes me cringe (anyone else?!). Though it’s probably the only and most accurate way to describe what it is that bloggers and “social media people” do on their networking platforms, I still don’t like it — but we’ll save that for another day. I’ve seen a lot of hardworking and talented people getting dragged for their picture-perfect content, accused of being fake and promoting unrealistic expectations, leading to their followers’ self-esteem plummeting. I’ve heard people share that they sometimes feel worse about themselves after scrolling through their Instagram feed, wondering why they don’t look like that, have a relationship like that, or have cool stuff like that.
“There’s no way she looks THAT good every day.”
“She never repeats a clothing item in her images. No one has that many clothes.”
“Who takes the time to actually wrap themselves up in fairy lights?!”
“Why even bother posting if my pics aren’t as good as her’s?”
“Why would brands want to work with me when there are so many people doing it better?”
These thoughts are the first steps to developing an unhealthy relationship with Instagram, but we’ll get into that in a minute.
HOW I FEEL ABOUT INSTAGRAM
I like to think of Instagram as an art form. I truly enjoy planning out my photos, styling each shot and spending hours editing, even if I’m the only person that sees my images. I love it and it makes me so happy to see how far the photo can go from the original idea that popped in my head that made me decide to bring it to life in the first place. Though I typically don’t go all out for my photos (at least in my opinion), I do give careful attention to the location, lighting and overall vibe of the photo that will best execute what I’m going for. It’s honestly so fun for me, as it is for many other creatives as well. But with that being said, I do get stressed sometimes when I can’t create the content I imagine in my head. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, though I wish I could say it is.
I feel that Instagram is as “real” as you choose to make it. It can only have power over your life and how you feel about yourself if you let it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t scroll through my profile from time to time thinking my photos could be better, why am I not doing this and why can’t I look more like that. We all do it. I didn’t experience this to the fullest extent until the last month or so, and it really does suck. It sucks the life and creativity right out of you and leaves you feeling inadequate. If you feel that your relationship with Instagram has become toxic for you, your confidence and your happiness (whether you’re an “influencer” or not), take a step back and reevaluate it.
WHY SO PERFECT?
I think it’s important to realize that the photos bloggers and social media influencers post are products of their brand and their business. Regular, everyday photos are stylized and posted in high quality to appeal to brands and book future work, often incorporating current brand collaboration materials. This is the same as an online store taking professional photos to show off their clothing in the prettiest locations with every detail perfectly executed. That seems normal, right? The same goes for bloggers and influencers.
If you see a really nice photo on Instagram, chances are that image took WAY (and I mean WAYYYYY) more hours of planning and executing than you can even imagine. It’s not effortless, even if it looks like it is. It’s hard work. Taking photos that seem too good to be true is part of their job — that, in combination with their personality, is what makes brands want to work with them, so each hour spent curating their feed is billable time for their business. What you don’t see is the blood, sweat and tears that go into getting just one good image, but I’ll save you from that visual.
HOW NOT TO GET LOST IN THE SAUCE
Know the role Instagram should and shouldn’t play in your life. As a content creator, refrain from approaching Instagram as a personality-less robot. This is always in the back of my mind and something I strive to be better at every single day. Don’t take the human out of it by regurgitating beautiful images with no depth or uniqueness to them. Keeping Instagram human is what’s going to allow it to be a positive space for each of us moving forward. I recommend (for myself and others) to do the following:
Unplug. That’s right, stop scrolling. Close your app and try only logging on a couple times a day for a limited amount of time, or take a day or two off — whatever you feel is needed. It’s so easy to get consumed by it, especially when it’s one of your biggest passions and such a huge part of your career like it is for me, but unplugging is healthy. If you’re thinking about your next Instagram picture more than what you’re going to eat for dinner most days, chances are you’re in too deep. 😉 Give it a rest for a bit and be present in your non-virtual life.
Don’t fault others for their choices. If a blogger or social media influencer (or anyone for that matter) wants to spend their entire weekend planning photoshoots, snapping pics, shopping and sharing it all as they do it, then so be it. That’s a personal choice and the time and effort others choose to put into their content doesn’t make your content worse. Instagram is not a competition and it’s what YOU choose it to be. Though the media is saying bloggers and influencers are wrong for making you feel this way, people can’t make you feel anything. Only you are in charge of how you feel about yourself.
With that being said, how can we create a space that’s personal, while still being beautiful if we so choose? I find that the best Instagrammers have personal, well-thought profiles and content that show their personality while still getting their message across. The style, composition and subject of the photos they produce is unique to them and their brand, which keeps it human.
THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND BLOGGING
I don’t think either is going anywhere. I believe both will continue to become larger streams of income for those that choose to go that route career-wise, so developing a healthier relationship with each of these is essential for all parties moving forward. It’s important to be educated on what it is that bloggers and influencers really do before jumping to conclusions, and I hope my content helps to do that. Following bloggers and influencers should be a positive experience and if you feel like the people you’re following are robotic, overly sales-focused and overall nauseating, it’s probably time to find some new people who better align with your values.
The things I’d like my readers (myself included!) to take away from this post are:
- Don’t read too much into it. Social media is a highlight reel.
- Bloggers’ and influencers’ job is to make it all look pretty and easy. Don’t let it get to you.
- You control your relationship with Instagram. Take the reigns.
I could go on and on, but that’s all I’ll say on this topic today. I’d like for you to leave a comment sharing your thoughts on this discussion, what role social media plays in your life, and how following bloggers and influencers actually makes you feel. Thanks so much for reading — you can check out my previous “Let’s Talk” posts here. Have a great weekend, friends!