I joined the blogging world in the beginning of 2009. I loved having a space that I could call my own, share my photos with family and friends, write words I did not know I had. For a year I posted a photo every day, doing a “365″… even though I had no idea at the time that “365″ was actually a fancy, fun term for such a project. I just thought taking a photo every day would improve my skills. Discovering I had words to put to my photos was a nice surprise.
Over the next few years I posted hundreds of photos, wrote thousands of words, shared a bit of my heart and my thoughts, and sought to encourage a reader or two along the way. One of the greatest gifts I found were the friendships of other bloggers who shared a similar love for photography. I “met” many blogging friends in this place called the Internet. I visited their blogs, read their words, commented on their photos and stories. I felt privileged to enter into their lives and see just a slice of who they were, albeit that “slice” was contained to a daily post with photos that captured very brief moments. I was (and still am) aware that what I saw in their posts, and what I shared in mine, were tid bits of their larger life picture. And even though I felt I “knew” some of the people through their stories and photos I was cognizant of the fact that I knew only what they projected. (Because honestly, everyone has her own threshold of vulnerability, comfortableness, and need for privacy when it comes to posting her life on the Internet…for all to see.) But still, I appreciated those bloggers who invited us into see the reality of their lives, rather than the perfect ones we often believed they lived.
I know there are many things since the advent of social media, and especially blogging, that have caused us all to realize that our culture has become pretty obsessed with over exposing ourselves. But there is a part of blogging that I have always appreciated: it has given us the ability to connect with those in this world who have the same interests and passions, to be inspired and encouraged along the way in our stories. Until I began blogging, I was chugging along, alone, in my pursuit of photography, trying to learn my camera, wondering how “others” out there were doing it and what they were producing. Because I was not taking any photo classes I was completely disconnected from the larger global community of others who shared my passion. Once I began posting my photos and sharing with words I valued anybody who would stop by and comment and encourage me along the way.
So when it seemed like a natural progression of creative exploration to begin using the camera on my phone, I joined the Instagram community to share my passion there. I created a profile and began to post photos there—mostly photos of my daily travels, of things that I saw, of beautiful light—all of which would have been passed over if I did not have my big heavy camera with me. I enjoyed the ease of carrying my iphone around and being able to capture photos in that intsa-second, share it with my insta-friends. Yes there were times when I realized I picked up my “real” camera less but I still loved to come and share here. I was a blogger who Instagrammed on the side. I loved both, but I loved blogging more. But somewhere in the last several months of Instagraming I have sensed this sadness creep inside me. While I still love a good scroll through Instagram, I feel like a shift has happened. Maybe I am completely off the mark, but I feel as if people are blogging less and Insta’ing more. (You should see my spell check trying to correct all my iterations of the word “instagram”.)
If I could create a picture for you…
It’s kind of like we were all at a blogging party and then a few people got up to leave and carried the party elsewhere. Though if I could be a bit more specific…we were all at a blogging party and the cool kids got up and left to go have a Tumblr party, and then some others went off to start an Instagram party. Everyone seemed to be jumping up and racing to the next “great thing” in the hopes of amassing followers so they could be seen, and “known”. Meanwhile a few of us were still in the blogging party still trying to keep it alive. Though the balloons were sagging and the chips and dip were all gone.
If this picture is really true, just call me the old lady barking at the young whipper snappers: pull your pants up! I may sound funny, but I just feel that in the madness of our insta-culture it seems we have now reduced our lives to even smaller bits. In smaller snapshots, in fewer words…all reduced to being viewed by the world in the time it takes to flick a finger up the screen of my phone. Even though we are sharing a lot more of our lives than ever before (photos of our lunch, our babies crying, our daily choice of outfits), and even though we are documenting our stories in ways that are creative and imaginative (via filters and textures), the truth is that our Insta-lives are shared in milliseconds…in a finger flick. Does that not seem sad to you? It feels to me like a false sense of connection. Which is a bit comical for me to say, I know. Hey! Remember the time when we used to write letters to each other, and meet for lunches, or sit on the front porches of our houses and talk about the neighbors? Now I’m complaining that we don’t blog enough. What is this world coming to?!
Now, I recognize that there are those who could care less about “connection”, unless it gains them followers. So if that’s you, this ranting doesn’t really pertain to you. And there are some that are perfectly happy with the amount of “connection” Instagram offers, or does not offer. I also know that some use Instagram for more than sharing their lives. Some use it to share their art work or their business. Which is amazing to me that we have so many avenues of ways to put our work out into the universe, to connect to other like-minded folk. And there are those that actually love the insta’ness factor. It’s a great way to capture family moments so that you have a documentation of your lives together. Which is also amazing. (Remember when our documentation was confined to the number of photos we had on our film roll? And then we had to wait for the film to be developed?) But, there are many of us bloggers, who used to share our photos and lives via blogging, who use Instagram because it’s just easier. It is easier to capture and share our lives in that moment rather than sitting down after the kids go to bed to write up a blog post. (This isn’t a judgement. I completely get it. As I type this, it is 10:56pm and I need to crawl into bed.) But, and I offer this as a confession, some of us might also feel that in order to stay “current” we need to go where the party is. No one likes to be left alone picking at the chip crumbs at the bottom of the party chip bowl. The ease of Instagram is sort of an excuse for just trying to “fit in”. (Although, as a friend of mine said, even though you show up to that new party, you discover that the new cool kids still won’t talk to you there either.) Or maybe, it all just comes down to the fact that Instagram fits better into your life. You are glad that blogging has dropped off people’s radars because now you do not have to feel the pressure to keep up in that space. Whatever the reason for the change of party venue, I still feel sad.
Just the other day I visited a friend’s blog. I left a comment that I was thrilled to pop over and see that she had posted something because I truly loved her photo work and wished I could see it more. She commented back to me that she was lamenting her lack of blogging because she was spending all of her time over in Instagram. My first thought was that she is one of the growing number of bloggers I know who have expressed this similar experience. I cannot tell you how many times I have read this on blogs: sorry I haven’t been here in this space in a while…I’ve been spending more time over on Instagram…you can follow me there! I replied to my friend that the lure of Instagram, in its “insta-ness”, seemed to be causing a shift.
I said it was like Instagram killed the blog-o-sphere star. (Ugh, I know this reference completely dates me, but I did tell her that I swore I’d blog about it someday.)
They took the credit for your second symphony.
Rewritten by machine and new technology,
and now I understand the problems you can see.
Pictures came and broke your heart…
Please don’t misunderstand me. I enjoy posting a photo or two a day on Instagram. I like to see what others are creating. I even have some far away friends that I love to share those tid bits of my life with, and I love to see theirs! But for this girl, I am still here. I am hanging on for the love of what I can do in this space, that I cannot do in Instagram. When you only have a finger flick of another person’s time, it’s hard to pour out your thoughts and words underneath an Instagram photo. Almost like throwing pearls before swine. It’s also hard for me because I love to often post a series of photos that share a story. With Instagram defining my story telling space in the format of one little square, it’s hard to give up this space where I can post photos and write to my heart’s content.
I know it takes much more effort and time to visit this space here, but I cannot tell you much it means to me that you stop by and give me more than a finger flick.