Instagram is the undisputed throne-bearer of all social media channels today. Whether you want to be an “influencer”, earn pots of money, or simply document your life to the envy of friends and strangers, Instagram is where you need to be.
And consequently, there are a ton of articles written about how to make it on Instagram. How to get more followers, more likes… how to take the perfect photo… how to choose the correct filter… the right time to post… .
BUT what these articles and interviews don’t tell you is the inside story. The real story.
Call it the side effects of Instagram… not that it’s meant to put you off the platform in any way. It’s just a road map of the things you really need to become Instagram famous. The person you need to be, the life skills you need to acquire, the not-so-sweet pills you may need to swallow. Because filters and captions don’t make an IG feed… the person behind them does!
You will need to be shameless: To put it mildly, no-one ever made it to the Instagram Hall of Fame by being easily embarrassed. That’s the single most important thing I’ve learnt in my IG journey. Whether it’s blatantly climbing onto a chair to get the money shot of your food, walking through a shop seemingly talking to yourself while shooting a video, shoving your phone in a stranger’s face, looking half demented while twirling approximately 3,000 times in front of that gorgeous wall to get the flare of the skirt just right, #sheetmasking on a plane, making funny faces in public, or shamelessly swatching and snapping lipsticks at a Charlotte Tilbury counter even though you have no intention of buying the lot, Instagram means you will essentially be embarrassing yourself all around. You have to learn to just barge in and take the shots you need… no inhibitions can intrude. Ever!
Your food will never taste the same again: Food looks gorgeous on Instagram. Doesn’t taste so gorgeous when you’ve spent 20 minutes arranging the perfect shot, during which time the pie is cooling and the pasta is congealing. Kitchen fresh food? Say your goodbyes.
Your friends/spouse/parents/siblings will hate you: Ever left someone standing around, getting hot and sweaty and tired, while you compose the perfect frame? Slapped away hungry hands as they aim to take a forkful of pastry? Banned someone from even breathing near a coffee with the perfect foam art till it’s captured on the camera? Spent a whole holiday looking for “details” and ignoring the larger picture in a quest for Instagram gold? Welcome to my life.
You will get tech neck: Yes, it’s a real thing. Endorsed by orthopaedic and dermatologists alike. And it’s PAINFUL. What is tech neck? It’s what happens to your neck when you’re constantly bending to look at a screen. The unnatural angle leads to sagging skin, creases, dropping jowls, and a constant ache at the back of your neck (me!), which is basically the body crying for mercy. A massage may help, neck exercises may keep you going, and you will have to invest in a slew of creams to take care of the skin part.
You will never be able to visit Amsterdam: No, Amsterdam does not have a ban on Instagram. Or any other form of social media, for that matter. You know what Amsterdam does have? Narrow streets. And cycles. Lots and lots of cycles. 881,000 at last count. And you know what means when you’re standing in the middle of a bridge, snapping the perfect canal photo? Or walking with your head down, looking at the screen? You are going to get run over by at least one of those 881,000 cycles. It happened to me four times in the one week I spent in the city earlier this year. Cyclists in Amsterdam simply don’t care… your lack of attention, your fault. Apparently it gets much worse in Copenhagen. There goes a spot on my travel bucket list.
You will shop. A lot: If you’ve never bought something just because it’s Instagram gold, you are a much better person than me. And when you’re spending most of your time hunting down pretty stuff, it’s hard avoiding their siren call all too often. Also, there’s the pressure about having the perfect life… ‘coz who likes to see otherwise on IG? #TripleJeopardy
Your social life will go to hell: Position the table setting. Slap away people who actually thought food is to be eaten (plebs!). Stand up on a chair to take the shot. Spend 20 minutes doing VSCO-Snapseed-Instagram tweaks. Another 20 minutes composing the perfect caption and adding the hashtags. And then keep going back to the screen every five minutes to see how many people “liked” the photo. And if you’re truly serious about your IG feed, there’s all the real time interaction that’s needed to get the maximum engagement.
If you still have friends/spouse/parents/siblings patiently sitting around in silence, waiting for you to finish, I WANT TO LIVE YOUR LIFE. Mine will have finished the meal, had a blast with each other, and shall be halfway out of the door by the time I am done. And have left me the cheque to pay as punishment.
You will have to be comfortable talking to strangers: Unless you have a professional photographer following you around 24×7, an Instagram spouse, or equally IG-obsessed friends, you will need the help of utter strangers to take your photo ever so often. And not just take a quick snap, like normal people. Nope! They will have to follow the rigorous frame you have set, and the instructions you bestow. And keep doing it on repeat till you are happy with the shot. This is Instagram, peeps… it’s not your average click-and-shoot. Now, why would perfect strangers not willingly spend half an hour of their sunset-watching time on your IG feed?
You will be getting constant manicures: In case you haven’t noticed yet, life on Instagram is perfect. I know people who put on their makeup and get their hair blowdried all the time with the IG feed in mind. Even if you haven’t reached that level of obsessiveness yet, I can assure you that having well dressed nails will subconsciously become a priority for you. Because who can prettily wrap their fingers around a perfume bottle, hold a fork, or point to the mountains in the distance without that most important of shoot accessories: Well manicured nails. Right?
Let’s get real… what do you think is the most important thing to be successful on Instagram?