Instagram’s evolved considerably since I first downloaded the app back in 2010. At first, I only used it to edit (add filters) to my photos before sharing them on Facebook. Eventually, I began using it to share the occasional holiday snap or sunset before it became my main platform in 2013 whilst living in Toronto. Working for a bridal magazine, I became friends with a blogger and fellow editor who was an active Instagram user and soon began documenting our seemingly glamorous lives. In reality, we were barely scraping by in an industry that desperately needed to be disrupted.
In the beginning, Instagram was used mostly by creatives, photographers and editors, or at least those were the accounts I followed. I craved an inside look into their covetable careers and social lives. Even though most content was shot on an iPhone, it was beautifully styled and curated. I still love following accounts who offer a simple and aesthetic glimpse into every day life.
Instagram today involves over sharing and a scramble towards showcasing your most ‘authentic’ self, whatever that means. In some communities, it means showing your face without makeup and having a rant about whatever’s on your mind that day. In other settings, authenticity means showing the behind-the-scenes of a photoshoot. That said, I do appreciate the democratization of the industry because it means anyone with a smartphone and an opinion now has a platform and a way to share their experience.
I’ve observed the way Instagram and social media are used in both North America and Australasia by both individuals and businesses. While I understand this desire to be transparent, in this age of information overload, I still admire a bit of restraint and consideration. Parents are missing important moments with their kids and couples are having less sex because they bring their phones to bed. (Though that’s another conversation entirely…)
Personally, I have experimented with sharing more and giving more of myself to my platforms. It makes for a successful formula and allows you to connect with a larger audience. But there’s only so much of yourself to give. What happens when you’re unable to put your phone down on the weekend because it’s part of your job? I’ve had multiple conversations with fellow bloggers who feel guilty for not immediately responding to their DMs. I was chatting to a friend at NZFW who was previously an avid vlogger. He’s since stopped because he said he was never present for his actual friends and family, constantly hunched over his phone. He was no longer able to save anything for himself. That truly resonated with me and it’s something I think of often…
There are pitfalls to this new age of Instagram, many of which have been well documented. I’m still trying to strike a balance between showing up for my audience while still reserving space for myself and my loved ones. On one hand, I applaud bloggers who discuss everything from miscarriages to depression on their channels; knowing they might help even one person feel less alone. To be able to connect with people around the world, especially those who feel insignificant or ignored, is a truly incredible endeavour.
Where do you stand as a blogger or content creator? Are there limits to what you’ll share or are you an open book?
Photography by Nancy Zhou.