It’s Slinky; It’s Slinky, the favorite for girls and boys. These are a few of the quirky, yet catchy lyrics for the nostalgic childhood toy first introduced in the 1940’s. Anyone of a certain age certainly remembers the words and can recite them during drunken game nights with family and friends. It is also the object of my very first instagram post back in 2012. Exciting huh? Well, it was for me since it was my first attempt at taking a dive into the newest social media craze that ultimately killed doing it for the vine.
Instagram, like gay pro athletes coming out has evolved. Ok, that last part was wishful thinking but it has become a dominant means of communication, and connection that has been making boring conference calls bearable since it’s inception. Users, just like their experience on Twitter, could amass followers for a first hand but visual look at family barbeques, cat photos, and gratuitous selfies to the delight of their followers. This is minus the annoying Facebook rant that often accompanies photos with IG’s subsequent owner.
If simply posting photos of my workouts and Beyond Burgers were enough to look like Tyson Beckford
As time went on, it became a great vehicle for businesses to promote their products, artists to showcase their talent, and more surprisingly, allowing your auntie to show the world that her vegan diet and exercise regimen is responsible for her flawless bikini photos in Costa Rica. It’s fun, can be light hearted, and just like the description of witchcraft in a campy 80’s television movie of the week, can be used for good or evil.
It would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention that there is an underbelly to the titan of social media apps that although may possess good intention, often falls short. Today, Instagram can be a powerful voice for change. Political positions and pride in one’s culture is in abundance in addition to individual declarations, and personal mantras (often borrowed and void on independent thought). Last but not least is the quest for love. These are all good things though right? It can be but they’re often addressed to the wrong audience and most users have a blind spot in coming to that realization.
“Instagram is not my real life!”
I’m a sucker for positivity and declarations are my thing but when it comes to witnessing others on Instagram, I’m noticing they are missing one crucial caveat. Instagram will keep you honest! We’ve all seen the “New Year New Me” posts and yes we know that resolutions often turn into reso LOSE- tions. This is due to so many losing the desire to follow through. The same applies to declarations. If you post a meme in January that you are tired of working your 9 to 5 gig and you need to work to live instead of live to work, then by July you’re still complaining about your boss and workload for the 1000th time, guess what? We don’t believe you! Your NYE declaration is like a contract, one you did not adhere to and now you have an entire following of family, friends, colleagues, and gym crushes that witnessed your broken promise.
Let’s talk about my favorite four-letter word, LOVE. We all want it; it’s why we’re here. Just like potential business clients, supporters of a multitude of causes, a million stylists, and personal fitness training accounts, the quest for romantic love and or sex have found a home on the gram. Again, no harm done (I hope) but it too is often misdirected to wrong people and quite frankly, the wrong place and platform. Incessantly posting about you being hubby material by listing your qualifications, education, physical attributes, and culinary skills via photos of baked ziti won’t get the results you’re looking for. If the energy, intention, and only action you evoke is within the confines of a virtual universe designed for visual stimulation that doesn’t demand or require actual human connection of any kind, you’ve already set yourself up for failure.
To quote a good buddy of mine, “Instagram is not my real life!” When I heard this, I literally wanted to jump up and high five him but I was a few Hennessy pina coladas in and might have missed. I digress, but this was such an epic statement because, in its simplicity, was true. Now don’t get your undies in a bunch and get the idea that I don’t want you to get excited about changing and sharing your life and love circumstances for the better, I do! I’m also not here to tell you what to do. I’d just like to add a little perspective.
If simply posting photos of my workouts and Beyond Burgers were enough to look like Tyson Beckford, I would have deleted all my current photos for all shirtless pictures, and probably have more followers. Yes, I know you know you have to put in work to get the career you want or to find that soul mate, but what if that time spent on instagram was spent in this magical place, some might refer to as the real world. It’s no secret the level of entertainment the app has provided, but your new life and soul mate is not on Instagram.
There is something to say about frequenting environments where people think, move, and groove as you do
You can do the research yourselves but some sources tout that some users can spend up to 30 minutes or so a day on the social media sensation. That’s five hours a week that can you can dedicate to taking a different route home from work to get a dose of new scenery. Maybe you could even stop in at the bar that hosts poetry slam nights and connect with like-minded souls. There is something to say about frequenting environments where people think, move, and groove as you do instead of wishing your IG crush attended your church and have a similar belief system. Especially since you’ve spent a good amount of time perfecting your selfie game just to get their attention.
We all have been guilty of falling into the trap of saying, “I don’t have enough time” to pursue the career of my dreams, but when the time is spent on things that won’t propel (or even start) your catering business, it very well might be that Real House Wives marathon, Football game, or catching up on your buddy’s timeline of vacation photos that’s at fault.
I mentioned about speaking to the wrong audience on the gram when it pertains to hopefully being struck with Cupid’s arrow. A quick fix is to be more social off the app by way of happy hour in a slick new spot downtown, visiting your local Starbucks while your working on your novel, or my personal favorite, going on vacation by yourself.
There is real magic that occurs when we remind ourselves the importance of human interaction. Instagram is amazing and my favorite social media outlet, but simply getting lost in a world of wishing, liking, and reposting the lives and fantasy of love won’t take you further than the length of your IPhone Plus. Keep doing you in game of social media but invest in your physical timeline and adjust your daily routine with the same amount of intensity as your double tap. Instagram may have stopped you from doing it for the vine, but it doesn’t have to limit your life by keeping you from actually living it.