I’ve come over all BuzzFeed and decided to blog a list of my own. Probably slightly more irreverent than most of my posts, the topic is nonetheless one that is important to me. Instagram. Some people hate it, finding it vapid and inane. But I love it. With no forethought or expectation, I signed up last April, and rapidly became a huge fan. What I didn’t know was that Instagram would soon enrich my life in these unexpected ways:
1.Permission to be creative. I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking that I wasn’t as creative as truly creative people. I was dismissive of instagram, thinking it was for fashionable people, young people or celebrities. I am definitely not fashionable people. I’m older than the main demographic of instagram (55% of instagram users are believed to be 29 or under) Still, after hearing about it for a few years, I finally signed up. I started posting pictures of things I liked. Buildings, mostly. Buildings in my home-town of Cumbernauld, photographs of Glasgow and any other places I happen to visit. When I figured out hashtags properly, I gathered a following and then I was hooked!
Me being all creative with filters and that.
2.Like-minded community. Instagram hashtags are a gift. If you have a thing for windows, (either the glass-filled,framed viewing device kind or the computer operating system kind) there’s a feed for that. If you have a thing for organising the ingredients of your dinner or the contents of your handbag in alignment (#knolling, it is so pretty) or street art or rich kids or death metal or seals or cats there is a community of hashtaggers all about that very thing. Instagram makes it easy to find your tribe.
3. A portal to the big wide world. I follow some beautiful accounts all over the world. Plenty right here in Scotland. A lifestyle blogger in Japan. Street photographers in San Francisco, Hong Kong, New York and Edinburgh. Psychogeographers in Detroit and Norwich. The list is endless. Reciprocity is important on instagram, and makes the experience much more rewarding.
4. New Opportunities. In 2015, directly as a result of instagram I was gifted some brilliant opportunities. I was asked to take photographs at a friend’s wedding. I learned that I both love taking pictures of weddings and that I have a lot to learn about taking wedding photography. I also got some photos in online articles, here and here. Without my instagram habit, it’s hard to see how these opportunities could have come up.
5. New hobbies. Clearly, I do like taking photos or else I’d not have bothered with an app like instagram. But instagram, in conjunction with the decent quality of the camera on my ever present smartphone, switched me on to photography in a big way. The user-friendly filters, by their existence, introduced me to concepts like saturation and contrast in a light-touch way. The newfound passion for photos also led to a new camera. Via instagram, naturally, I found a photography club where I hope to develop my technical ability and improve my photography skills.
6. Sanity. 2015 was like all the other years in that stuff that I’d have preferred not to be going on went on. Normal, tricky real-life stuff with family, relationships, work and studies. The gravitational pull that instagram exerted was stabilising. When things got a little bit too much, it was always easy to find time to get a few decent pics and post. Reading and following up on comments provided an opportunity for enagagement and escapism.
Escapism through the medium of people watching.
7. Collab with your InstaFam. Or what we call in the real world, making new pals. The ability to connect (see point 2) with like-minded people means conversations that don’t normally crop up take place easily over a photo. Sometimes, if that person is nearby, you might arrange to meet them in the safety of a well-frequented city-centre establishment. Then you can just nerd out wandering and taking photographs.
Collab with my InstaFam
8. Postivity. This might not be true of all instagram accounts, but not once has anyone ever said that a photo of mine was a bit rubbish. That doesn’t mean that all my pictures are brilliant. Some have less likes than others. But all the positive energy means I never feel discouraged. And that’s a nice feeling.
9. Random and fulfilling conversations. When out on wanders, taking pictures, I now tend to notice all the other enthusiasts. I’ve sparked up conversations with with pigeon-fanciers, train-spotters,photographers, business owners and graffiti artists. Having a hobby of your own somehow grants you access to ask people about theirs.
10. Walking more. Walking feels like travel, everything else is just transit. On foot, you are free to duck in and out of buildings or take a shortcut over fences and through fields. Breaking the rules (though never breaking and entering- that’s illegal!) helps you find the previously unseen. And, I’ve mentioned it before- getting to know a place on foot absolutely explands and enriches your horizons.
11. Paying attention. I know that much controversy abounds about the use of social media for carefully curating your life and editing out the bits that aren’t so glossy. But in many ways, I’m hoping to do the opposite. I’m not opposed to a beautiful landscape shot of the Scottish hills, or a glistening neon cityscape. But there is joy to be find in tiny moments and unusual places. Having the focus of instagram, ‘the need to feed’ means I work hard to really look around. To go slow and observe. I’ve been richly rewarded, finding tiny little artworks tacked on a door-frame in the East End, or spotting a leading parkour artist hanging on a bridge over the River Clyde. It’s a real incentive- you never know what awaits you.
How do you use your Instagram? What do you think- is it life enriching or soul-sucking?