Could you imagine a world without Instagram? It would be so strange wouldn’t it? I started my original account back in 2012 (@daisychainbaby is still there if you’re interested!) as a way of marketing my online business which I ran alongside my full time job (more on that later) and sharing a bit of every day life.
When we bought our home in 2014 I set up the account I have now to document our home renovation and I’ve been using it ever since. Back in the days of OTT filters, no niching and definitely no such thing as an “Instagram strategy”, the app has come a long way.
Over the years I’ve been sucked into just about every bit of Instagram “fake news” going – when to post, how many hashtags to use, if you don’t post every day you’ll immediately lose any chance of engagement, “shadow banning”, the list goes on. I even remember being on holiday in Las Vegas in 2019 working out that if I posted around midnight-1am it would post at my usual time as if I were still in the UK. Isn’t that RIDICULOUS?!
Don’t get me wrong, there are many reasons I love Instagram, the inspiration, the community, and in lockdown I think it was an invaluable way of remaining connected. I was an early Story adopter having already had a Snapchat account because I loved the idea of instant chatting and I’ve storied regularly ever since which is a LONG time.
Gradually I learned to let go a little bit and realised that the world wouldn’t stop spinning every day if I didn’t post but still, those pesky stories. I have some brilliant chats with people but at the same time, it can also feel a little intense and overwhelming especially now I’m working full-time and navigating daily life with a chronic illness. So I recently took a break for a week and I’ll be honest, if I didn’t have some ad work coming up I’d still be on a break.
It did give me a lot of thinking time, in a way that you can only be objective about something when you remove yourself from it. I thought about why I love the accounts I do, how I want to use Instagram moving forward and how it’s time to call out the very weird behaviour people can exhibit on there. Here’s the lowdown!
Please Don’t Be Over-Awed By “Large” Accounts
In the same way that parents are just people, and doctors and teachers are just people, so too is everyone using Instagram. They don’t need us to worship them, instead I save that for someone who can perform open heart surgery or dashes into a burning building. I’ve had messages from people in the past saying things like “I’ve never messaged a big account before” or “I don’t normally message influencers” and whilst it’s sweet it’s also a little strange. I’m just Lindsay, I’m certainly not an influencer (it’s a word I don’t like, if there had to be one I’d choose blogger) or someone you need to be nervous about messaging, I love a chat. There are definitely many accounts that believe in their own self-importance (giggles) but most people are very normal. That said….
Etiquette Goes A Long Way
I’m quite sure if we went into a supermarket and asked where something was, we wouldn’t say “where’s the bread?” I’m hoping we’d all say “excuse me, please can you tell me where the bread is?” And the same is so very true online. Whilst my above point stands that no-one is royalty, it’s also just common kindness to be polite. You’d be amazed how many messages come in with just a “where from?” or “how much?” with nothing else. We reply, and then nothing, not even a thank you. It happens every day to just about everyone I know who has an active account and it’s quite demoralising. So never be afraid to…
With mental health being more important than ever, never be afraid to wield that block button. I feel very lucky that I very rarely, if ever, receive any kind of trolling and I used to really deliberate over blocking people. It’s not often that I do it but please remember that you’re essentially giving access to parts of your life to complete strangers. It’s ok to remove any one from that who perhaps gets to close, is rude or thinks they have some kind of entitled access to you. Examples of a couple of people who I’ve blocked recently include (and by the way as I explained above, etiquette is a thing, none of these were people who had engaged with me before, and none of them even bothered saying hi, or asking why I’d done something a certain way)
On finishing the patio makeover: “I feel the need to tell you, you should have used a stencil and it would have made your life so much easier”
On sharing a little video of our living room: “All I’m thinking about is whether your cupboard handles are straight”
On giving a detailed guide to fitting a hook to our bedroom door: “That’s not how you do it on a hollow door” (FYI, our doors aren’t hollow…!)
Please, please protect yourselves, it’s YOUR account so don’t feel apologetic about wanting to put yourself first. Because…
It’s Not Real Life (Or Real Friendship)
Years ago I remember reading a story about an actor who played a serial killer on Coronation Street. He said that little old ladies were coming up to him in the street and hitting him with their handbags or having a little old lady go at him, confusing what was the soap story line with real life. This is very true of Instagram too! We’re only ever seeing a snapshot of someone’s life and it’s generally a highlights reel. For the most part people are so lovely and kind but it’s occurred to me especially via stories, that people can perhaps become a little dependent on a connection which doesn’t really exist. I’ve made long-lasting real-life friends through Instagram, people I message and see outside of the app and I’m so grateful for that, but again, if you find yourself craving daily interactions with certain accounts, please do take a break. Becoming addicted or dependent on this app isn’t healthy. Which leads nicely on to…
We’re Owed Nothing By People We Follow
I often think that plain old people online are held up to much greater scrutiny than the people who really should be – politicians for starters. Something important happens in the world and suddenly everyone who has over 100 followers is expected to speak up on it, but we’re not marching into our doctors, or asking our child’s teacher for their opinion on something. Let’s stop expecting it from people we follow online. I’ve messaged people before with a question or to say how much I like something and never expect to get a reply, it’s lovely if it happens but I’m not owed one. Just because people share some of their life online it by no means we get an access all areas by default. It’s up to the individual what they share, nobody else. And just like those accounts owe us nothing, guess what…
Instagram Owes Us Nothing
This one addresses some of the recent furore over Reels (there is a lot to get worked up about in the world, anything to do with Instagram definitely isn’t it) which just blew my mind at how fast Chinese whispers can race across the internet. Just to recap, you can still post photos. It’s your account and you need to love what you do, so do. You definitely don’t have post video content if you don’t want to. To small business owners, from someone who used to run one for 8 years: don’t rely on Instagram to market your business. I ran an ecommerce site alongside my full-time job. I had my own website, a newsletter, a blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I also sold in person at markets at weekends. So I’m sorry – if you don’t want to work harder or can’t be bothered to adapt I don’t have a huge amount of sympathy. You could argue that without users, Instagram wouldn’t exist and you’d be right, but then we’d all be living a blissful Instagram free existence. Win-win. And another contentious topic…
Ads Aren’t The Enemy
Everyone’s favourite controversial topic (giggles conspiratorially). I was thinking this past week about the accounts I love, and they do a lot of ads. Personally, it doesn’t bother me at all, and given that most of these accounts have 100K followers and mad levels of engagement, it doesn’t bother a lot of people either. My mantra has always been that so long as people are working on campaigns relevant to their lifestyle then there really shouldn’t be an issue (eg, if I suddenly came on and started advertising coffee/meat I’d rightly expect to be called out on it). I’m also never quite sure why people take so much free labour from accounts but never support the ad work, is it a jealousy thing? Who knows. I always used to feel nervous about working on ad campaigns but my time away reminded me that the only person’s opinion that matters to me is my husband’s so gang, march forward with those ads with pride and just make sure you’re declaring them correctly. Now I’ve got that one of my chest it’s time for…
This is one of my biggest issues with the online world because in all the years I’ve been using Instagram I’ve seen people absolutely so destroyed by unkindness. Imagine this. You’ve saved up and saved up to get a room redecorated. Or you’ve taught yourself a new skill and worked really hard to do it yourself. You reveal it, thrilled, and people ACTUALLY message to say they preferred the before. This will never not blow my mind, I just don’t understand why people do this? We wouldn’t sit next to a total stranger in the hairdresser and on seeing their finished do say “oh I actually preferred how it looked before” so whyyyyyy do people do this online?
Of course if someone says “please can I ask your advice/opinion about something?” then they’re actively asking and expecting opinions will be divided and advice will differ. But please, please think before you message. Has the person actually asked for an opinion? If they haven’t, stop and think about how you’d feel if you received that message yourself. Again, polite questions are fine, “hey Lins would you mind letting me know why you did it this way?” is finnnneeee. “You’ve done this wrong” is not. And it happens. All the time. Ultimately though…
Instagram Isn’t For Everyone
Think about what sports you like (if any, maybe you hate them all). I love football and tennis but literally couldn’t think of anything worse than sitting through rugby or golf. Someone else might like athletics. You get where I’m going, we all like different things right? So it stands to follow that Instagram just might not be for everyone. If you’ve ever deleted a post because it didn’t “do well”, or if you’ve used the hidden likes tool, or if you’ve ever felt down by seeing someone else’s life on more than one occasion, I’d honestly say Instagram probably isn’t a good platform for your mental health. We don’t eat food that we know will make us unwell, it’s exactly the same principle. It’s time to take an extended break or maybe, just walk away completely. You’ll find yourself in a much happier place without that self-imposed “comparisonitis”.
Now it may seem like a lot of what I’ve written probably sounds quite negative and honesty isn’t always what we want to hear, whether it’s a relationship or health or something like this. People are intrinsically excellent at getting defensive or passing the blame somewhere else “well I left my rubbish in the park because the bins were full” rather than taking it home, you know the kind of thing. Instagram IS fabulous and I’m so grateful to the posts and people who inspire me, the friends I’ve made and the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve definitely learned though recently, and especially after stepping away for a few days to regroup, that real life offline is definitely far more fabulous. Look after you first and foremost because there is absolutely nothing online that’s worth it X