Picture this. You’ve scrolled through your camera roll and chosen three photos from your weekend that you really like. You take a few moments to select the right filters to make the images really pop. Then you make it to the final page. You’re one step away from sharing your photos with the world.
If you could just come up with the right caption, you’d be golden.
Your creative mind starts churning. You need something that sticks out, that might get a laugh. Something clever, unique and original. You type one out. “No, that’s not funny,” you tell yourself. Or, “No, that sounds corny,” and “No, that doesn’t fit my brand.”
You struggle to find something that your followers will like. You throw around a few more ideas but just can’t land on the right one.
So you close the app and forget this ever happened.
Why did you do that?
No, why do we do that?
I’ll tell you.
I signed up for a Myspace page in 6th grade. Then Facebook two years later, and Twitter a year after that, and then Instagram the next year. Vine had its moment, and TikTok seems here to stay.
We like to say the opinions of others don’t matter. We’d like to think that we’re fully confident in ourselves, that a like or a favorite means nothing to us. That the number of views don’t matter.
But then we post a photo. The notifications begin rolling in, and we get a rush. It’s a drug. We share something on our Story and check the analytics to see who’s viewed it, who’s shared it, who’s visited our profiles. Not just once, but several times throughout the Story’s 24-hour existence.
Yeah, keep saying people’s opinions don’t matter.
Of course they matter. We’ve practically been raised on this social currency. Likes and favorites and clicks and views are forms of approval, of validation. Everything we share needs to hit a certain number for us to feel good. And if that photo or tweet doesn’t perform as we had hoped, we take it down. We can’t possibly let a tweet with just one like exist on our page, right?
I’m beginning to change my way of thinking. Instagram is meant to share photos. It’s a place for artwork. Van Gogh and Picasso never stopped to consider if the world would approve of their work. No, they just painted what was in their hearts, in their souls. If I find a cool flower and want to share it with the world, who says I can’t? It won’t cut through the algorithms, but who really cares?
So let’s stop worrying about curating the perfect feed. It doesn’t exist. If we all are truly ourselves, and not portraying someone who we aren’t or wish to be, the world will be a better place. The toxicity that social media breeds would cease to exist.
Be yourself. Not someone else. Moving forward, I’m going to post things that make me happy, not you.
And I hope you join me in doing the same.