Instagram – Full of inspiration or expectation?

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?’. For me, my numbers plummeted when I posted my boudoir pics (still not sure if I should be offended or not lol! But maybe, it wasn’t the right platform, which is why I moved them here instead.

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).

I have also met some new people, most who I get on really well with and some of whom I will have regular conversations with. I feel like I speak to these people more than my own friends! Or maybe its a sign I need more friends, who knows!

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!

4 thoughts on “Instagram – Full of inspiration or expectation?

  1. You’re mot alone here and it’s a blessing and a curse. Great honesty for people to ponder and get off their devices more. Not a fan of Insta and FB. Love W.P. and find travel through pics awesome. Stay well. ❤️ Cindy

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  2. I do feel a sense of jealousy at those lucky people who seem to be out and about in the hills and mountains all the time! Baby duties and spinal health issues have kept me from outdoor adventures for a very long time and it is so frustrating. That said, I also take inspiration from the wonderful photos and descriptions, and they help me to look forward to a time when my gorgeous daughter is old enough to share new outdoor adventures with me. So yes, a bit of a double edged sword in my opinion.
    Beautifully written as always Amy.
    Best wishes, Craig

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  3. I guess it all depends on your starting personality. I have learned this the hard way. There will always be somebody with better kit but that kit doesn’t necessarily make them have better experiences when hiking. Its the old adage of money can’t buy you happiness. I have learned the important thing is getting out there, whilst remaining safe (although I would love a free ride in a helicopter!). My kit is all functional and does the job whilst being nowhere near the upper end of the spending threshold. I can go out in a downpour and stay dry and comfortable and thats whats important. As I get more into hiking and go for more difficult scenarios then the kit also evolves to keep me safe. Getting out there is great for my mental health. I do have small groups of people I go walking with and equally I’m just as happy getting out alone. Do you always head out solo or do you meet up with people? It always sounds like a proposition to me when I say if you ever wanna meet up and tackle something together then I would love to but it never is. Its a genuine if you want a laugh and a walk then I’m there. Its a way to increase my own experience and get me out of my comfort zone not some sort of outdoor tinder!

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  4. Well written, Amy. Having just spent most of yesterday, learning what the heck a hashtag is, I do find the Instagram platform a tad vapid. However, to promote our blogs in search of like-minded and interesting souls, I suppose we must engage. The pull-and-tug of the electronic IG leash is fickle but strong. I much prefer long read, full-screen blogs. Do give Wild Swimming a try – in spring. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I feel a tug of the leash. No, not IG – your other posts.

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