I was never really good at instagram but I was kind of the best. Sound egotistical? I am only speaking the truth. I was never good at curating what looked like a perfect life. I failed at managing my account (halfpint22) when it blew up to 80,000 followers. I hated hash tagging, I hated filling photos with two hundred tags in hopes of being featured by some bigger account, I hated pushing product (and so I never did), – we don’t need more stuff – I hated being approached by companies asking to trade a nalgene bottle for a post and a “shout out,” I hated that people treated me like I was famous when they met me in person (I’m not), I was a terrible ambassador and I did not want to organize meet ups… so I deleted it and never looked back. I was the best at sharing the good, the bad, the ugly, the fear, the joys, the laughs, the cries, the imperfections in my personality, and my struggle with addiction….ya know, what every single one of us REALLY experiences. I was good at being myself and somehow through all of the smoke and mirrors other human beings saw that, even before I did. Unbeknownst to me I created a small army of people who tuned in to watch my life unfold naturally in real time. My real life. My every day struggles. And I deeply helped people I did not even know until a few days ago, when I announced I would be leaving instagram indefinitely. (I am only talking about instagram and not social media as a whole because I have never had or used twitter and I barely used facebook, but this applies to any and all social media outlets – pick your poison)
I thought deleting halfpint22 would prove that I did not need validation or “instafame” and I was only around for the human connection and to meet people I might otherwise never cross paths with. And that is ultimately what I used instagram for, to snap my relateable life to others and inspire, especially women, to be strong, courageous, and go after whatever it is they want out of life. I met an incredible group of people and created a happy safe community when I continued on as throughbeingcool22. Hey, come over here to unapologetically be your weird ass self, everyone is welcome. I did not hashtag, I did not tag, and I surely did not care if I was featured. I am positive I only posted for myself and those who followed along. It was okay for a little while but I still could not put my phone down. I looked at other people with their 1,000,000 hashtags, and 5,000 tags per photo and it made me sick. I looked at heavily edited photos, hell I edited photos, and asked myself over and over again, “why can’t I just post this photo as it was actually seen?” Why do I need to saturate, fade out, warm up, add a filter and completely mangle a moment in my life that did not actually look like the moment I am now presenting days, weeks, sometimes months later? I remember a conversation with my friend Kate, some big instagram account featured one of her photos, she messaged them and said, “hey next time, could you please ask my permission before doing that?” They responded by telling her she should feel honored by the feature and then removed her photo. I’m sorry, honored, should feel? At the end of your life, does it really matter if you get insta-featured or not? And more importantly we “should” feel a certain way about sheer and utter nonsense? WHO. CARES. And then I had the people who told me that deleting an instagram account with 80,000 followers was the most insane thing a person could do, it was social suicide. I was famous, I had pull. Pull?
So here is the thing, my validation, my “pull” comes from doing hard things, from setting goals for myself, be-it physical, intellectual, or emotional and mustering the self drive to achieve said goals or fall on my face and learn something, either way trying, working hard. Hard work, remember that? What humans did before we all had iphones. Posting a photo on instagram is not hard work. Having 10k, 20k, 30k, 40k followers just means you spend too much time on instagram. Your hashtag game is strong and ultimately that is kind of ridiculous. Over time I grew bitter and hostile yet I continued to snap story, edited photos, and post. However, I was not growing bitter or hostile toward the gram and what it procures, I was bitter towards myself. Instagram exists and it will continue to exist but I do not have to exist with it. I cannot be true to my core being and have social media. Digital consumption is an alternative to reality. We are the screaming babies and it is our pacifier. Well, I do not want to be pacified. I do not want to be a sheep in an all consuming herd. I do not want the 1,400 dollar iphone X-12.0. I don’t care how many pixels it has, I would still edit the photo. Why? Because it is never enough. We need more more more more more more more more more more more more more….okay you get it.
I have not met many but there are a few unicorns out there who live social media free. I would occasionally find one and feel envy. I was never envious of other peoples little insta-squares but I was truly jealous of these beautiful horned stallions that had no handle. Who knew what they were doing? What they ate for lunch? How many miles they ran that day? What mountain they climbed eighteen throw back Thursdays ago? They just nonchalantly shrugged and said, “no, I don’t do social media.” Well how will we stay in touch? Oh you mean write each other through email, talk on the phone, or actually get together and hang out; make an effort. You mean, I can’t scroll through your “life” and secretly compare mine? It was at this point I knew I had to grow a horn and prod my way out of the #likeamountaingirl world and be a unicorn. I permanently deleted my facebook (the right way) and disabled my instagram account and it feels like I took a major dump that was all sorts of cramping my stomach.
Bring on the withdrawals, it’s cleansin’ time!