The title may be a little dramatic. However, I have been thinking a lot lately about the impact social media has on us – especially my followers (the great outdoor types). On the one hand, seeing peoples adventures can be incredibly inspiring, encourage us to get out more and try new things. Alternatively, does it provide a level of expectation that weights on us when we can’t meet it at the same level? This is what I want to explore, naturally, it will be from a personal point of view.
I have only really become an ‘avid’ Instagram user since lockdown. I primarily follow people with similar interests to my own, hiking! So the majority of people I follow are sharing their great outdoor adventures. I’ve also seen many people who openly talk about mental health, and from my experience, it seems like the Instagram hiking community are very supportive and inclusive which is great to see. I rarely come across ‘trolls’ or exceptionally opinionated people (they all seem to be on FB). So all in all, its been a positive experience.
Over the months, I have seen the number of people following me go up you do feel some sense of achievement when they hit those ‘follower’ milestones (as I am sure most people do), followed by bewilderment when you go through a period of losing followers and wondering ‘what did I do to offend people?’
I have enjoyed looking at peoples adventures and watching their stories. It has encouraged me to get out more, given me an idea of new routes to try and areas to explore, safe to say my bucket list is now full. It has also made me consider trying new things, like wild swimming (although still thinking that is way too cold for me).
It has also been a good platform for me to share my adventures, promote my blog and talk about mental health openly. However, despite all these clear benefits, sometimes Instagram can leave me feeling a little gloomy, and I do wonder if it’s just me?
The biggest problem is that it can make me frustrated. For example, I see people going on almost daily adventures, travelling around the country and exploring all these amazing places. Meanwhile, I am stuck at home, working unable to get time off. I’m wondering, how do these people do it? What job do they have? Don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with who or what these individuals are positing, more a personal frustration that I cant do my hobby as much as I would like. But there’s this whole Instagram v reality thing, you don’t know what kind of lives people are living. If we are being honest, we don’t really know much about anyone we are following, which is a bit of a shame actually.
Then there are the professional photographers, you start wondering, is my camera good enough, are my pictures good enough for people to follow me, should I invest in a better camera, what software do they use for edits?. There’s also ‘kit’ issues, I’ve seen this from both sides. I know people on Instagram who are afraid to say what tent they have for example, because it is expensive and they are worried people will think of them as a ‘rich bitch’, and others who almost feel like they will always be considered a ‘novice’ because they can’t afford the best piece of kit. I could go on with different examples, but you get the gist.
I guess all outdoors people would love to spend more time outdoors. We would all love to buy the best kit possible. Maybe, it does boil down a little to jealousy or just frustration of adult life and added difficultly of lockdown. I for one have had to cancel a lot of amazing adventures this year (including Switzerland and Iceland) because of COVID. In the same breath, Instagram is also an amazing outlet for all of us (presumably that’s why we use it).
I do wonder if people have the same frustrations as I do, I think its only natural. Or it could just be me, anxiety has always made me far too self-conscious of what people think.
I also want to point out, this isn’t a criticism of anyone who I follow, if anything, I wish I was there with you on your adventures. Like I said before, I think the hiking community on Instagram is incredibly supportive. But if anyone is feeling a little weighed down by the ‘Instagram expectation’. Don’t worry, its not just you.
Keep showing and being proud of your adventures, I enjoy seeing them all!