Monday, July 13, 2015

The world of Instagram and Pinterest? It isn't real.

Yes, I do like and use a few social media platforms on a regular basis. Facebook is a habit. Pinterest is a great way to feed my obsessive collecting need without actually collecting things that take up space in my home or studio. Instagram is a fascinating scroll through the lives of the beautiful. The images are for the most part gorgeous. But don't you think there must be a pile of crap just out of the frame? I mean, does anyone really have a studio that looks like it stepped out of a high-budget Hollywood production? (If, say, there were art studios in high-budget Hollywood productions...)

Nope. I am absolutely sure there is a bin of unentered receipts under the desk and six empty tea cups on the bookshelf just out of view of the camera. And that etherial, white, floaty-feeling is created by a filter slapped right over reality.

I have felt a great deal of distress centered around Instagram in the last few weeks. It wasn't really an identifiable "I'm upset because this is not what I believe about the world of art" kind of distress (though there was some of that too). It was an amorphous unrest that started when choosing my photo for my daily post and intensified when I scrolled through my feed. I finally had to stop and ask myself what the heck was going on.

The truth is, Instagram is fiction. (Thanks to Kim Werker for giving me those words, only I think she said, "Pinterest is fiction"). IG photos are lovely. The worlds they represent are shiny and happy and people are having fun making things (or cooking or raising sheep or whatever you are interested in following). I just want to remind all of us myself that this world is created with Photoshop and that there are piles of unfinished projects behind the closet door, a drift of un-inventoried tapestry tools in the corner, and a pile of receipts that you haven't entered into Quickbooks because you haven't figured out how to categorize them (and you feel like a complete freakin' failure because of this little fact).

I think the truth is that we learn the most from getting it wrong first. Maybe for a very long time. Why can't we, as humans, admit that this is true? Is our culture so much about being perfect that we have forgotten we are human and we need each other? The pressure I put on myself to do massive amounts of work and to do it "perfectly" is intense (maybe even insane). I do not believe I am that far from the norm of small business owners/entrepreneurs in this country. Instagram is not helping me in my twelve-step program to overcome perfectionism. Not one little bit.

So I will continue to try to keep the piles of crap out of my Instagram photos, but if some creep in, please celebrate them with me. And for goodness sake, don't forget that even those networking geniuses with 57k followers have hairballs the cat coughed up under the dresser. I am just sure of it.

14 comments:

  1. Oh, Rebecca! It is always dangerous to measure our insides against others' outsides. When I was at the height of my travel teaching career I wore a bracelet that said "I am enough". I needed a constant reminder of that. You, my dear, are enough, today and always, just as you are.

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    1. It is so true. And I find it insidious. I am SURE that I am never measuring what I do against what I see on social media, but it is, of course, not the case. I was talking to another friend about this the other day and she mentioned some statistic that people who don't use social media are happier (don't know how scientific that is or how they are measuring happiness)... but I do believe that these platforms start us comparing ourselves to others. And the comparison is faulty. "I am enough" Perhaps I need that in tattoo form. :-) I know others insides are just as messy as mine. We should post photos about that.

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  2. Your post captures some of my reservations about Instagram. It seems sometimes the motivation to create is superseded by the motivation to share what is created. It is a strange world we live in where all of our pursuits need to be beautifully photographed and shared with the whole world in order to prove they really happened.

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    1. I agree Ashli. It took me awhile to get on board with that platform and I'm not always sure it is wise. It was a business decision of course, but I think perhaps a break from actually looking at the feed might be in order. :-) What this world really needs is people who make things. Doesn't even matter so much what it is. Just that we do it.

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  3. I have a friend who spends hours looking at Pinterest. I told her it was a new form of hording. I finally started peeking at things, and it is addictive. I don't know that I actually go back and check on the things I have "saved". Facebook is another addiction. It sucks you down the rabbit hole. I have to get up and walk away from it so I can get things done. I think I justified everything in the beginning with the idea of "I am getting ideas" and "I am doing this for business reasons". When I don't get anything else done, it is too much. Thanks for your essay to make us reconsider how much time we spend thinking we are going to do something vs. doing something.

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    1. It is completely a form of hoarding, I agree. I go through phases where I am trolling the internet looking at tapestry stuff and I pin everything, and then I don't look at it again for a month. I think I'm going to have to institute time limits on social media for myself--kind of like you do with screen time for a kid. :-)

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  4. Rebecca, thanks for this honest and thought-provoking post. I have resisted Facebook and Instagram--though I do pin madly on Pinterest--because I do end up feeling worse rather than better after spending any time at all on those media. I totally agree that "The pressure I put on myself to do massive amounts of work and to do it "perfectly" is intense (maybe even insane). I do not believe I am that far from the norm of small business owners/entrepreneurs in this country." It is impossible to make art--especially the slow art of weaving--and keep up with all the social media and other business practices we are told we HAVE to do to succeed. Makes me long for the days when self-promotion meant sending out postcards!

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    1. I remember postcards and thank you notes written and mailed. I also remember keeping everyone's business cards and writing to people when I knew it was something they might be interested in. Sigh! Here we are in a new world that sucks the life out of us.

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  5. When I signed on to Instagram recently, I had no idea the photos needed to be so perfect. I don't have a fancy camera, no photoshop or the skills to use it. I just take photos, choose the best of what I have, and use them wherever. It is intimidating though, and I haven't done much on it. Perhaps we should start a trend? Real studio life? Stacks here and there, dust bunnies under the looms? Yarn shelves and tool trays that aren't studies in perfection? I have patience for weaving, but so far very little for photographing the results. I want the photos as a record of my work, not for presenting a life or place that doesn't exist. I like to see and visit real, working studios, not some fantasy on social media.

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    1. I don't think they do have to be perfect!! I am trying to lower my standards and enjoy posting whatever I want. Lets form a group and hashtag it something like #perfectlyimperfectphotosofIG. I think we should start a trend. Oh, that could be the hashtag! #RealStudioLife. I like it. We should do it. I'm with you on the fantasy world. It makes me feel inadequate to see only things that must be faked to some extent. I'm going to start using that this week and see what happens. #RealStudioLife. Thanks for the idea Janice!

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  6. Good morning Rebecca. I want to weigh in and say I love that you are posting to Instagram! As a visual person who loves magazines, Instagram is right up my alley. While I do enjoy seeing the polished/curated photos that seem to be the norm on Instagram [it's the colors, visual ideas and escapism in lieu of travel that capture my attention], I enjoy even more the posts by people/small businesses who's blogs I read. Not the blogs that offer a perfect world view, but the blogs that offer up a look into someone else's life and way of living; just like you do with your blog. I love your Instagram posts in between blog posts (which take much more time to publish) as it offers a quick look at which projects you are currently working on; a look into the artist's studio as it were. No, it isn't perfect; nor should it be. Have you ever seen an artist studio that was perfect?! I think if it were, it would hamper creativity! As a weaver, I follow several weavers on Instagram because I love seeing what other weavers are creating. For me, it's a bit like guild meetings where you get to see what everyone has been working on. Only with a lot broader membership!

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    1. You just made my day Traci. Thanks so much. I also really enjoy IG and Pinterest a lot and though I think sometimes I let my judgemental brain get at me for "imperfection", I am unlikely to stop using them. I also like the kinds of blogs you talk about and am pleased to hear that you like mine for this reason. It IS kind of like a guild meeting. Thanks for all of this!

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  7. Makes me want to take a picture of that hairball underneath my weaving bench. Question though: should I use a filter?

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    1. Whoo-ha-ha-ha! Filter or not... what a tough question. If you want to make absolutely sure that people know they are seeing the complete reality of the hairball, perhaps add the hashtag, #nofilter.

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