Okay, so. I've noticed this thing happening on Instagram the last year or so, ever since they started having the stories feature, where everyone has started putting their personal funny stuff there, where it disappears in a day forever, and then keeps their main account just for the glamorous, serious stuff. I was lamenting to Fiona Glover, a lovely spooncarver in Australia, that it seems like people have started using Instagram differently.
And it got me thinking: what is Instagram for? Not what does it do physically, or how it works, but what purpose does it serve for us, its users? What purpose COULD it serve? I was thinking about this because I recently dove all the way back to the beginning of my feed to do what I often do, a purge of photos I no longer like. I do this on a regular basis for more recent posts, but occasionally I'll go all the way back and remove pictures that don't reflect the current caliber of my work.
What I find when I do this is that while the spoons I thought were so important at the time have completely faded in importance, the value of the personal moments, the small intimate details, has grown immensely. These are the very things that we are now being encouraged to use the stories for, and so instead of creating a record of our life, we are reacting in the moment without capturing anything for the future.
This shouldn't be surprising, because Instagram didn't add this feature because it was better for us, it added this feature to grab users from Snapchat, to dominate that capability.
Similarly, being able to see the likes and number of followers we get or other accounts have is not for our benefit. It's to make using the app more addictive. I sometimes confuse my sense of self worth with the movement of these metrics, which is the stupidest thing in the world and I know it but it still happens!
There is no denying that one of the best things about Instagram for me is interacting with people. Surprisingly, while I started off using the app for inspiration, the relationships I've developed with customers are fast becoming more meaningful and fulfilling than seeing the work of someone I've never had a conversation with.
Instagram is how I run my business, it's how I give back by sharing what I know, it's how I notice and document the beautiful small things in life in a way that otherwise wouldn't happen, and its a source of meaningful relationships.
That said, it is addictive, can be disruptive to my family life, can be hard on my self-esteem, and if used thoughtlessly could leave me with little to show for it.
Sometimes its good to articulate things. And now I need to go make dinner.
My blog has evolved into a series of short essays on the nature of entrepreneurship, craftsmanship, and their overlap. If either of these topics is something you think about, you will probably like this.
One idea is as worthless as another until you actually do something about it, and then it is the action, not the word that matters. --Orson Scott Card