HOW TO GROW YOUR INSTAGRAM
- Brew Polyjuice Potion and become a Kardashian (do hair extensions work?)
- Focus on statistics over smiles; numbers over words and quantity over quality.
- Jump on the #LikeForLike #FollowForFollow bandwagon. Who cares if their profile doesn't have an avatar, their usernames include @free_ig_likes & @socialgains, or they shower you with fake compliments until you 'like' them back. They like you, right?
Well... I've got a secret and the #instagurus won't like it. 'Likes' are Social Media's pretty little lie. It's a word with far too much power but, ultimately very little weight. That is, if you allow yourself to look past the filters, come up for air and recognise what truly matters. As Ron Weasley tells Hermione Granger in Philosopher's Stone, there comes a point in our lives where we need to sort out our priorities... otherwise, we will find ourselves endlessly battling the Three-Headed instaDog:
Head 1 = self-comparison
Head 2 = self-criticism
Head 3 = self-punishment
While I admire Ms Granger's commitment to her studies, I'm with Ron on this one. LIVING should be the first priority; more specifically, living with, by and for our values. Thanks to charities like Heads Together, Young Minds and Place2Be, young mental health has become a top priority for society; more recently, the spotlight has focused on the relationship between social media and mental health. Given the popularity of Instagram among young users, mental iHealth awareness has never been more vital.
At the same time, it's never been more vulnerable. And on that note, the clock hand turns to me and it's time for honesty hour: by the end of 2017, Instagram was hurting my mental health and the problem wasn't the platform. It was the culture. I was caught up in the trap of likes, calculations, followers and filters. To use Forever Fi's words in her recent post - which I siriusly recommend - Instagram didn't "spark joy" like it does now. So what changed?
SORTING OUT MY PRIORITIES
In the last 2 years, I have consciously worked on socking it to the stats and choosing to be SOPHIE. Come what may. Through the lenses of #Pottergram, #MeettheMaker and #MyEverydayMagic, I identified the three things that make me ME: Mindfulness, Making and Magic. Accompanied by those three words, I finally stepped out of the comparison cabin and set myself free.
If you bumble along to @bumble_and_be, you will find snapshots of my crochet SPEW Crew ft. individual stories of Wellbeing Wizardry. Yet if you go back a few chapters, I was that girl following accounts promoting "toxic productivity" or "living my best life" (with a selfie receipt to prove it). I was continually comparing myself to others, especially after suspending my University Studies for health reasons in 2016. It was only after starting CBT in 2017 that I truly reflected on what truly matters. I saw how the root of so much unhappiness in my life could be defined in one word: numbers. From blood sugar readings, to grade sheets, social media stats and those digits on a scale. Numbers continually tried to bring me down like the Dursleys in Privet Drive.
So how do you counter numbers? Words. Accordingly, my social media content and small business are both centred on storytelling. Whether it be describing the development of my latest crochet creature, or reporting on the adventures of Sir Nugget de Whimsy PAWpington (he is Bumble and Be's resident Niffler, who I essentially created as my alter ego. He is there to remind myself - and hopefully others - that a bit of self-belief isn't a bad thing!)
I now see those "How to Grow your Inatagram" bullet points and do the opposite. In a world of likes and lip kits, it's not always easy being Luna. It's certainly not going to make me an "influencer" any time soon. Yet if the comments on my posts are anything to go by, I've been able to inspire some good in the world....
... Bumbles and all!