fitting in on social media

Mary Dougherty

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I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories

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It’s a love hate relationship when it really comes down to it, right? Each year, month and even day changes are made to social media – with the way we use it and the way it uses us. Remember when facebook was fun? When you didn’t have to be cool on instagram? (that’s my very first post almost 4 years ago!) I know, I’m sounding super old. No one’s making me participate, I just feel that pressure and want to be a part of the conversation. It brings us together and it drives us apart.  As a small business owner, and a photographer who focuses on image driven content it’s pretty hard to have no relationship with social media and continue to grow your business, so the question I ask myself is : what kind of relationship do I have?

I went through a crazy phase this year on Instagram. I felt like I finally made it to high school and all the cool kids were doing things different… you know, editing their feed, curating their gallery and hanging out under cool hashtags I didn’t even know about. #thatsdarling. I know, it’s so silly, but I started to get really jealous and felt left out. I wanted to be cool and have lots of friends and be interesting and that’s when I remembered a few things :

It’s really hard to be on social media if you aren’t comfortable with yourself.

I think everyone has days or goes through periods of time when they just don’t feel like they measure up. I definitely was feeling like that. Social media is obviously the worst for this because you just continue to feel bad and compare yourself to everyone else. Take a break and talk to a real person. Sure, you can call or text but even better have some face to face interaction and remember what it’s like to drink coffee without taking a picture beforehand.

Everyone uses social media differently.

It’s okay if you don’t put hours of effort into crafting your online profile and it’s okay that some people do. Choose what works for you and stick with it. Share as specifically or random as you like. Obviously as a photographer and a small business owner who wants to connect with people, I do think it’s in my best interest to use instagram. As I mentioned my perception of how I will use + interact with people on the network has changed and yes I definitely try harder to put content up that people will enjoy. I think of it like blogging on a mini scale, because blogging has also changed for me in the past year (that’s another convo). At the end of the day, it goes back to being comfortable with who you are and where you are at.

Instagram is more fun than facebook.

This is the truth. Instead of sifting through tons of ads and unrelated content or opinions you aren’t interested in arguing over you can just look at something and decide if you like it. You can follow a person and see if you like them. You can start to leave comments and form friendships and meet in person. When was the last time you started following a stranger on facebook and then getting together to take pictures? Sounds super shady. Also, as a business owner, being able to actually share news on facebook has become increasingly more challenging as they change their algorithms and push you towards advertising (which doesn’t really work, am I right?). Instagram gives you a platform to speak clearly from.

Life is more than what happens online.

Sometimes we become blind to this. We forget that those feeds we are looking at are still from real people with doubts, fears and insecurities just like us. We obsess over what to post or what someone else posts instead of living our lives. I have noticed this most now that I have a two year old who watches my every move. The times that I spend staring at my phone instead of drawing a horse with her (who she then will give a shot to and a lollipop after) are times that I have lost. We can’t take back how we use our time but we can choose something different in the future.

So, in my imperfection there are times I still think a little too much about what people think, what I will post or how I will share. I’m happy to say that for now I’m comfortably in my sophomore on instagram : getting used to the way things now work but not ruling the place like a senior. Next year things will be different, the game will have changed and I will have a three + one year old who I will happily spend time drawing with.

Full disclosure : the picture above was taken on December 17th. I look that nice at best once a week and pretty much currently wear the same pair of leggings every day… because I work from home.

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