For many of us who are social media savvy, one avenue in particular is likely to hold a special place in our hearts: Instagram. And you know what? Being obsessed with Instagram isn't a bad thing. Social media can be inspirational, educational, and great for building community. I mean, where else can you connect with people all over the world who share your interests?
So it seems obvious to me why Instagram is pretty Insta-great, but not everyone in my life is so enthused about the amount of time I dedicate to taking photos of pretty things, scrolling through my feed, leaving comments, or, of course, perfecting my selfie game (it really is an art form). But earlier this month, Mashable ranked Instagram number one on its list of the best apps of all-time, so that's got to mean something.
Founded in 2010, I remember initially brushing off Instagram as one of those hipster apps that someone might use to share their filtered photo of a craft beer. On a whim, however, I downloaded the app the day that it became available for Droid, and grew pretty obsessed (much like its now 400 million users).
Once I learned how to master the app for myself, Instagram transformed my small business and put me in front of so many new potential customers. In a way, it changed my life. Still, there are far too many people who want to criticize my love of the app. Here are just nine things I'm tired of hearing from them, and that I'm sure other IG aficionados will understand.
1. "Get off your phone."
Since I first founded my store as an online retailer in 2012, it's been necessary for me to conduct a lot of business on my phone. And when my laptop bit the dust in March, I was forced to be even more mobile. Unlike Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, Instagram really only works on your cell. So if you want to be active on it for personal or professional reasons, well, you have to be on your phone. I swear, I can double tap and listen at the same time.
2. "What are you even doing on there?"
When people ask me what I'm doing in all the time I spend on Instagram, I tell them that I am changing the world. Instagram is one platform that has been really crucial in sharing my own radical self love. Relating my own experiences to others has been really healing for me, and I know that sharing my story has inspired others to do the same. We could all be a little kinder towards ourselves and humans at large, and Intagram reminds me of this every day.
3. "Stop taking selfies."
Selfies are a form of a self care, and I think anyone who wants to try and spout that taking selfies makes you self-centered or vain just needs to take a few more of their own.
4. "You post too much."
I have a friend who works in social media for rappers, and he told me that I should be posting three to five times per day on Instagram. This is only one person's opinions, but folks pay for his expertise, so that's the standard that I go by. There are some brands that post multiple times an hour and that have millions of followers. So I think ultimately you should do what works for you.
5. "Instagram isn't real life."
I hear this criticism all too often, but Instagram has made me highly visible online, and that carries real life successes and consequences. The moments when my images are stolen and reposted for memes are actually upsetting in real life, so I simply don't want to hear this anymore.
6. "You try too hard."
I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I know I personally spend five minutes on my makeup on most days, whether I'm getting ready to take a picture or not. And it's really no one's business how much or how little time someone wants to spend taking photos for Instagram. Stop hating and let us live.
7. "You shouldn't wear that in your post!"
Welcome to my life online. When I released this dress, it started a major debate about what is an "acceptable" dress for a plus size woman. One of the main ways that I use Instagram is to challenge sartorial norms. This avenue helps me create an alternative narrative.
8. "Insta-fame doesn't matter."
So many of the amazing opportunities that I have had in my career came as a result of Instagram. While likes don't necessarily equate to money, dedicating time to growing a large Instagram following can build community and eventually put cash in your pocket. And more importantly, regardless of dollars, Instagram can help spread really progressive, transformative imagery of self love and body positivity. When the media won't give us a more inclusive representation of beauty, Instagram gives us the power to do it ourselves.
9. "I just don't get Instagram."
It's almost the end of 2015, so I feel like I shouldn't have to explain all of the benefits of Instagram to anyone. Whether you are using the app for personal reasons, business reasons, or both, I think there's a lot of community building that can be done through the platform. And the more time that you dedicate to it, the more it can work for you.
So as with anything you may not understand at first, it's important to remember that empowerment and vehicles for subversion can be found even in the most unlikely of places.