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My Real Problem with Instagram and Influencer Culture

Instagram is big business these days. Recently, it’s starting to feel like my life revolves around Instagram. Everything I do, I take pictures of “just in case”. But no matter how hard I try, I often find myself falling behind on Instagram. My follow count hovers at the same number whether I post daily or once every week. I can’t be bothered to dress up and put on a full face of makeup each day just to get a photo to keep my feed “updated”. And trying to dedicate half an hour every day to interacting with everyone I follow is honestly tiring. Everyone shows a highlight reel, and everyone is trying to be aspirational. It can be pretty depressing to feel like you’re praising everyone, but getting very little back. Sometimes it works, and then the algorithm switches on us, and we’re back to square one. It’s exhausting. But apparently, it’s essential to being a blogger.

But the real problem I have with Instagram is the lack of definition as to what an “Influencer” is. Nowadays, more brands are making their starts with Instagram, and the look most brands want is just plain “Influencer”. But “Influencers”, or what people think of when hear the word “Influencer”, seems to have a very set theme. A young woman, with a Barbie-Doll look. Big boobs, treated hair, face full of makeup-artist grade makeup, tall, and face full of fillers. And hey, if you need all of this to feel confident, then okay – I don’t judge you for thinking like that. But has anyone else noticed all successful, highly followed influencers all look the same?

Girl sat on a mountain top, taking photos on a phone

It’s gotten to the extent that I have fully researched getting cheek and lip fillers, even though needles set off my syncope and I have no problems with or desire to change my facial features. I have regularly bought clothes I would never wear because it’s “fashionable”. I’ve subscribed to YouTube channels run by influencers who just annoy me, because I feel like I can’t be a blogger without saying they inspire me. And basically, I have felt my anxiety worsen, my inspiration halter, and my mental health slip, purely because I can’t gain followers on Twitter and Instagram. And I’m tired of feeling like I’ll never be successful because I don’t look the part.

Instagram is frustrating enough. But does it need to be? I regularly feel like I shouldn’t be there, because I can’t gain followers. I just want to be myself, but I don’t look the part. I feel like I’m not good enough, and fear of a backlash stops me from posting certain things. In trying to post more of myself and my life, I’ve opened myself up to unwanted sexual advances from strangers and rude comments from others, meanwhile I feel like other bloggers just comment and like to be polite. Sometimes I can’t think of a comment to put on someone else’s photos, and I feel guilty for it, even though I shouldn’t. And the follow/unfollow game and bots take up more space in my mind then I need them too.

I’m probably never going to be a quote-on-quote “influencer”. But did I ever want to be? I don’t want to be defined by a fake appearance or a number next to my name. But here I am, desperately trying to claw followers and writing about how hard it is. We all know that Instagram and social media is bad for our mental health, and I feel like I’d be better off if I deleted my blog, my Instagram, my Twitter and everything else and lived my life without social media. To be honest, would anyone really miss me? This industry is fickle. If big names such as Jamie Genevieve, Lydia E Millen, In the Frow, Imogenation, Soph Does Nails etc. all disappeared overnight, would people spend the rest of their lives wondering where they went? It might occupy us for a few weeks, but eventually someone else would fill the gaps. Chucking biology into this feels counteractive, but that’s how niches work. When one opens up, it’s quickly filled. Survival depends on how you adapt to available resources. And now, not using fillers, not having plastic surgery, and not wearing the “right” clothes, means you don’t fit the niche. And you aren’t going to. Unless the niche changes. Which it likely won’t.

So, maybe it’s time to stop worrying. This isn’t something I should be wasting emotions on. Personally, I enjoy being given a window into someone else’s life, without feeling a need to “be” them. But I know that’s not the norm. Oh well. I’ll survive.

Do you feel like Instagram success is now based on fitting a mould? Let me know in the comments below!

Rachel

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8 Comments

  1. August 28, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    It is definitely fitting a mould. I was thinking about these “influencers” the other day, and I realized another thing that honestly, is hilarious. These girls/women are supposed to be selling all kinds of stuff/lifestyles to regular people. And yet, many of them have more financial resources than their target audience. The brands are not kidding. The average person will always be behind the so-called “influencer”.
    Of course, this is not the case with all the influencers. I’ve seen a few youtubers that keep things a bit more real and they have followers for that exact reason.

    But Instagram seems to be an alternative universe. And then all that theme thing that if you don’t do it you’re not instagram worthy. Seriously, are these people kidding me?

    Don’t feel bad about not knowing what to say. I rarely comment photos, I just like them (and I only like the photos that I really like) and that’s it. I take some minutes (15 maybe), 2 or 3 times a day, to check my feed and like a few pics. I have to make a living and it’s not by wasting my time (seriously, this is wasting time) commenting to say empty things or trying to have the attention of a ‘bigger fish’ that I will pay my bills.

    Some time ago I was a bit obsessed with getting followers and I would waste never ending hours on blogs and reading posts to make meaningful comments instead of the annoying “oh, great post” comments a lot of bloggers make. I got some return, but not much quality return.
    I’m about to get back to blog posts after an extremely long hiatus. I’ll focus on the content and promotion on social media. I’ll just let it flow. I can’t have a hobby that stresses me out. I already have my daily life and my job for it. And I refuse to follow the crowd.

    About my Instagram: I don’t care about themes and I stopped caring about followers. If I can get interested followers great. If not, farewell. Those who unfollow: when I see someone following me and that person has a huge amount of followers and yet they follow just a few people, I ignore them. I know that as soon as I follow them, they’ll unfollow me. And this is tricky because sometimes I actually like their feed. However, I can’t tolerate this kind of dishonest behaviour.

    I’m sorry for the lenghty post and I’m glad you wrote about this.

    • August 28, 2018 / 1:20 pm

      Thank you so much for this comment lovely! I really enjoyed reading it and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I’m exactly where you are with Instagram – I’ve found the quality of my posts to be what attracts followers and engagement, not giving as much as I can to no return. It’s definitely not worth as much thought as everyone gives it.

  2. Sophie Kennerley
    August 28, 2018 / 1:36 pm

    I’m so glad you wrote about this! It’s been something that’s really been playing on mind recently. I’m sat here wondering what I’m doing wrong when I really put the effort in on my Instagram and loose followers! I’ve been making a real conscious effort to ignore my follower count and just post as and when I want to! I think as long as I stay true to who I am and post what I’m happy with then nothing else matters! I got to a point where it was really affecting how I saw myself, especially to do with my weight. I want to post fashion images and my style but I don’t feel like I have the body that Instagram expects me to have! But that’s all changing now and I’ve learnt to care less about all of that and enjoy being me!
    Loved this post xxx

    • August 28, 2018 / 4:52 pm

      I’m so sorry you started to feel that way – sadly it’s one of the overwhelming problems of Instagram. I’ve definitely felt like less because I don’t feel like I look ‘right’. But I agree that just being yourself and not feeling pressure to post makes it much easier! Thank you for your lovely comment

  3. September 1, 2018 / 12:41 am

    I have actually on and off struggled with this since I started this whole blogging journey. I dream of being a full-time blogger, but I sometimes wonder, will I ever not get anxious and not compare myself to others. I’ve gotten better, so I hope with time that I continue to care less about what others are doing and just stay in my lane. This might be the best post you’ve ever written. I really could relate to this! Amazing post Rachel xxx

    Melina | http://www.melinaelisa.com

    • September 3, 2018 / 9:20 am

      Thank you so much! I’m hoping that this post will help others realise Instagram isn’t worth the hassle just for a few more followers! You do you lovely!

  4. September 27, 2018 / 10:30 am

    I really struggle with Instagram! I’m a home interiors blogger, but I find it really hard to get photos when the house is actually tidy, and when the light is right.

    If I’ve tidied a room I tend to take as many pictures as possible so that I can use them over a few weeks. I’m the same as you though. My follow count tends to stay the same (unless I post a picture every day for a few days, then I see a difference). I gained 25 followers yesterday, but have also lost 15 so it’s climbing VERY slowly. Most days, I give up.

    https://www.dreamofhome.co.uk

    • September 27, 2018 / 5:31 pm

      It really is a struggle to keep up with it. I’m just doing it for fun now and trying not to care about the follower count. But it is hard! Thank you for a lovely comment! X

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