As I scroll through my Instagram feed lately I feel like I am literally seeing the same picture over and over again.
Everybody obviously follows accounts that interest them, so as a mother I follow a lot of parenting/home decor/mummy bloggers/lifestyle accounts.
People. I literally see the same photo OVER AND OVER again. The same kids bedroom styled with EXACTLY the same products from EXACTLY the same stores. Let me give you the formula:
Canopy + vintage bunting + IKEA Minnen kid’s bed frame + folkloric wallpaper + wooden accordion peg holder + something rattan + creepy big eyed circus hybrid human/animal picture art = INSTA PERFECT KID’S ROOM.
And guess what?
THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT MY DAUGHTERS’ ROOM LOOKS LIKE. Minus the creepy big eyed circus hybrid human/animal picture art because, creepy.
The other day, I looked around my girls’ room and realised that I had been victim to the Instagram Effect.
What is the Instagram Effect you ask? I’ve provided an authoritative (authority being me of course- I hope you’re picking up on my very dry sarcasm here) definition below…
Instagram Effect (definition): Best described as the way Instagram subconsciously shapes your interests, likes, dislikes, tastes and consumption habits and results ultimately in everybody looking exactly the same because all purchase the same products because all “influencers” are “sponsored” by the same businesses.
So whatever subculture you find yourself in, I can guarantee that you all look like, think like, act like, consume like, each other.
Now you might say, hang on, doesn’t that happen anyway, regardless of social media?
Yes. I suppose to an extent it does.
But social media has taken it and increased the potential for creating sameness in subcultures to another level.
When I had my life-changing, earth-quaking realisation that my kids’ room literally looked like a copy-paste of all kids rooms on Instagram, I literally felt sick. I mean, did I even really like this look? DOES IT EVEN MATTER WHAT A 3 YEAR OLD AND A 5 YEAR OLD’S ROOM LOOKS LIKE?!!! And I felt sick at how much their room had become cluttered with stuff… stuff that I had wasted money on, stuff that they did not care an inch about. Sure they liked their rooms, but left to their own devices, they wouldn’t care what their room looked like.
What I’m trying to say, but obviously failing to do so in an articulate manner, is this:
Social media has not only made it so easy to copy one another, it is actually resulting in everybody thinking and being the same. It has legitimised the sheep potential of human beings. And companies are making big money from it.
Not only does everybody now look the same, and their homes look the same, but more dangerously, everybody now thinks the same. What does it mean for a hashtag to be “trending”? It means that everybody is jumping on that hashtag bandwagon and giving it legitimacy without questioning whether they believe it is right or not because a celebrity used the hashtag (most of the time accompanied by a picture of themselves with no extended caption explaining their actual thoughts).
What does it mean for someone to have millions of “followers” on Instagram or Twitter? I know for a fact that when I’m scrolling through IG and see that someone has less than a few thousand followers, I would be less inclined to follow them. Or have a proper look through their feed.
And then I realised that I was doing this and again, I felt sickened by myself.
Social media is increasingly creating a mono-culture, a culture that pressures people into sameness. Sameness in the way we dress, the way we consume, the way we style our homes, and even in the way we think, what opinions we are allowed to have, and therefore, even in the experiences we should be having.
So, the next time you are on social media, stop and think if what you are reading or seeing is right for you.
Maybe step away from social media, and even the news for a time, and read a book. Spend time understanding who you are, what your values are.
And don’t be afraid to stand by them. You don’t need to get judge-y, you don’t need to trawl people’s pages and become keyboard warriors and shout your values at them. That’s not what I mean.
Just know who you are.
And be quietly courageous in this knowledge.
Don’t get swept up in the tide of hashtags, and “influencers” with their millions of followers. Take back the power to decide who/what influences you.
Make it a conscious choice.