I’ve been focusing on being mindful with my social media presence, and noticed I was feeling some feelings during yesterday’s scrolls, not unrelated to Forbes 30 Under 30 list being published. And not unrelated to me trying to understand my relationship goals for Instagram follower numbers.
In contrast to my new “look but with love” feels, yesterday, I was feeling… kind of crappy, hopeless, helpless, worried, comparativ-y.
Everything has a premise. A foundational idea, upon which rules are built. We have a right to ask, do we agree with that premise? Otherwise, we’ll be playing by rules in a game we never agreed to and just went along with.
The socially driven premise of Instagram (and playground and high school life) is that success correlates with number of followers, i.e. popularity. And so then we wonder when we’re on there sharing, what am I doing wrong to not get the followers – to not be successful on this platform? What can I do right? What should I post more of? At what times? And it starts to dictate how we view things, shape our behavior, and sense of worth.
And then it finally kind of hit me. Some thoughts I had been brewing, my feelings yesterday, what I was scrolling through – it all came together in one word:
Like… hold on a second. What is the impact you’re trying to have Nida? And think about it – what is the impact you’ve made? And look at the people who have impacted you. What do you find in common about all of them? I thought of:
- Dr. Aicha Sebaa, my very dear friend and a doctor of Chinese medicine. She has been a natural medicine lover since she was a child (something her dad nurtured in her). I follow and read her Instagram story and posts everyday. Over the last two years, just by consuming her incredibly relatable way of making natural health knowledge accessible, I’ve found myself making minor changes to my life regularly! I experiment with and try new things I was previously daunted by. That’s impact. She impacted my life, and continues to do so.
Instagram Followers: 1,106 (all organic ;)
- My mom/parents and the moms/parents I’ve witnessed in my life. My mom constructed, delivered, built and raised three entire human beings. I am still continually astounded that birth and human life cycles are so ordinary yet miraculous. How does one quantify the impact of creating and raising three actual human beings? What is that even? WHAT IS THAT?!
Instagram Followers: 0 (she’s not on Instagram)
- Modest Fashion/Body Positive Bloggers. After years of reconciling my thoughts about the impact that photography and photo editing have on my/our psychology (it was a struggle), one day, I woke up and was like, Holy Shit. These women are delivering Anthropologie, Vogue level shit. They are creating and giving me the images I honestly dreamed with my bones of having when I was younger. Not only that, they’re owning the trends that Muslim/WOC women across the globe have been setting for as long as forever that the fashion industry continues to appropriate/claim the face of. I am taking their impact for granted.
Instagram Followers: Ranges from dozens to millions. Each makes a difference by living and sharing their image.
So back to my question. What is the impact I’m trying to have, Nida? And does that impact involve or require social media followers? And for me, the answer is actually no. I chose to pursue my art and work from a place that is not about the number of people I’m exposed to, but the quality of what I give and the hope that if even one person feels less lonely or suffocated by it, I’ve made my difference. And for me, I count as that one person.
And when it comes to my business (in media & entertainment, particularly in long-form content like TV shows/movies), Instagram followings don’t help get one’s work done or even out there (what gets it out there is doing good work in the first place). It’s about that long-term focus and not getting distracted by glamour. It’s about me sitting in quiet time, thinking about characters, watching shows I love, marinating, reading articles, studying my business, inhaling all of this into my system, letting it run through my blood, and making decisions from my bones, my gut.
I bet if you ask this question, you may find that you are making impact. In the lives of people you love, in the lives of people who love you. At your work, whatever it may be. In your social circles, in your community. And if you find yourself unsatisfied, which I think, it’s an ongoing question right – What is the impact we want to have? – we can always answer that question anew, and find that amazingly, we can start to work on addressing that question right now.
So, my loves, what is the impact you want to have? How does it, if at all, correlate to social media? What are your social media philosophies based on this? Who are some people who have impacted your life, and how do they (if at all) utilize social media?
I’m going to continue asking myself these questions in my goal of cultivating a healthier relationship with myself, which includes my relationship with the internets.