So I’ve joined Instagram, apparently.
The photo sharing/social media/networking service has been around since October 2010. Two and a half years in social media terms is a lifetime, but no one has ever accused me of being an early adopter. The weird thing is that I don’t ever actually remember joining the site.
About a week ago, I was on the iPad and I noticed a newish looking icon on one of the screens. It didn’t have the “new” ribbon across it, so maybe it was there all along and I hadn’t noticed it? I’ve only had the iPad for a couple of months, and I am still learning tricks with it. I still have not mastered the “5 finger swipe” and prefer to click the home button to change things. Any short cut involving finger-swiping seems like cheating to me.
But you’ve got me off track. I clicked on this new icon: lo and behold, it was Instagram. It wasn’t even just the login page, it opened up to a full account with my name and everything attached to it. I didn’t even need to log in. I’m not even entirely sure what my user name is, to be honest. Isn’t that sad? The account had a photo of me, taken last summer in the mountains. I think it briefly was my Facebook profile pic, so could Instagram have just imported that? Facebook owns Instagram now, so maybe? And here’s another weird thing: I have access to this account/profile, but I don’t even know the password, so if I ever get logged out, I guess it’s “so long Instagram” until Skynet decides to allow access again. It feels like I’m house-sitting someone else’s account for the summer, but that someone else looks and talks like me.
Another weird thing is that I already had a number of followers, even though I hadn’t posted a damn thing. Most followers were Twitter-related friends, but one or two were friends through Facebook, who don’t even know I’m ON Twitter. How did THEY find me before I did?
Conundrum! Do I incorporate Instagram into the @trevorlibrarian stream of my online presence, or do I use it like an off-shoot of my Facebook profile? Or does it hold some weird ill-defined middle ground? I’ve been trying, with varying degrees of success, to compartmentalize my social media, and so introducing a new service potentially throws everything out of balance. And the question remains, do I even need or want Instagram? Sure, it has some cool filters so you can make your photos look like crap polaroids from the 1970s (in fact one filter is called 1977, as auspicious year.) But in reality, if I want to post photos for my Facebook friends to see, I’ll do it on Facebook, and if I want to post anything as @trevorlibrarian, I do it on Twitter or here on WordPress. And then there’s Flickr, a photo sharing site owned by Yahoo! and used semi-regularly by at least ONE of my friends. And these are only the ones I use and am aware of. I’m sure each of you can name one or two that I’ve never even heard of. Instagram has an option to “cross post”, so you can stick a photo across multiple services at once, which is nice if you want to do that sort of thing. But for me, the question remains, “Do I need one more thing to check?”
So for a few days I didn’t do anything, except post one picture as a test. (I’ve since posted another one). I didn’t (and don’t) really have the inclination to learn another whole social media platform, but how hard can it be? I clicked around about and figured out how to follow people. I initially held back, but was encouraged by one of my friends to follow her account, and so I decided, “What the hell?” and clicked follow (and sent follow requests) to those who were following me. I suppose I could branch out and follow public figures, most likely the same public figures I follow on Twitter, but the redundancy factor comes into play once again.
Another part of this is the old bugaboo: “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out). I could write an entire blogpost on the FOMO phenonemon (and in fact have a draft post kicking around on WordPress that I’ve been tinkering with for the last few months.) I like its title. Want to hear it? (You know how bad I am at secrets. Okay, I’ll tell you.) FOMO MOFO!
FOMO is that thing we’ve all experienced at one time in our life. We were that one kid in the class that didn’t get invited to a fun birthday party, or whatever. Eventually you develop coping mechanisms, a “Fuck those guys” kind of mentality. You do your own thing, go your own way the best you can, and you try to leave it behind at the playground.
But with social media so front and centre in our lives, FOMO is back with a vengenance. (and deep down inside aren’t we all still a heart-broken, slighted 9 year old sometimes?) Now it manifests itself as a creeping feeling that somewhere, somehow there is something really excellent happening out there that you weren’t invited to and to which you are missing out. Before social media, ignorance really was bliss, and you could control what you knew. (I suppose you still can, if you have the willpower to hit the off switch on all 5 of your devices), but for those of us who compulsively check the twits, facebook, email multiple times a day, (like me), this really isn’t a viable option. So maybe this is why I’ve decided to keep the Instagram account active for the time being (and hope it never logs itself out).
I’m no psychologist, (I’m barely masquerading as a librarian), but I think a healthy approach to all this bombardment is maybe to take a step back once in a while, and just regroup. Tell yourself, “look, there’s no way you can be up on everything, get invited to every fun gathering, watch every talked-about movie, read every critically-acclaimed book or listen to every newly-released album or weekly podcast. Get over yourself. Accept it.”
Good advice, surely, but when you work in an infocentric environment like a library (literally and virtually surrounded by the very trappings of the pop-culture and digital products that one is trying to control), and you’re thinly skinned, it gets tricky.
It’s enough to drive you crackers. Crackers……hmmm maybe I should take a picture of these crackers, crop them, stick a Hudson filter on them and put them up on Instagram, or maybe Facebook. No, I think my Twitter followers will appreciate them the best….
[Editor’s Note: Mountains Beyond Mountains will be going into summer mode next week. Most of the editorial staff will be given the summer off, so expect a reduction of posts. Who knows? Maybe I’ll bang the odd one out from the iPad on holiday, if I can manage a wifi connection somewhere. I’m sure there will be “something of note” to talk about over the summer, but if not, let’s all meet back here in September and help each other through those two dark months and aim for Christmas. #strongertogether #onward]