The Authenticity of Social Inauthenticity

 Last week the internet blew up with support for Essena O’Neill, an Australian teen who had built a “career” for herself by posting photos in bikinis, on beautiful beaches, and sponsored outfit of the day posts. The 18 year-old Instagram “celebrity” announced to her 500,000 followers that she was quitting social media because of the negative impact it was having on her life, declaring that “social media is not real life”. Elle magazine called O’Neill’s enlightenment “captivating and thought-provoking” and CBC News referred to her as “revolutionary” while I’m sitting here thinking: didn’t we already know that?

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For as long as I can remember I have been using social media as an outlet to be a smarter, prettier, more organized, more confident, funnier an enhanced version of myself. From talking to boys on MSN I would have never had the courage to talk to, to watching concerts I couldn’t afford to go to, to engaging in online conversations on topics my friends had no idea I even cared about; social media has opened conversations and experiences I otherwise never would have engaged in.

The truth is I think there is an authenticity to social inauthenticity. Posting a photo of the delicious lunch I ate today instead of the granola bar I shoved in my mouth between meetings yesterday doesn’t make me an inauthentic person. It is human nature to focus in on the interesting, beautiful, and impressive, and let the rest blur together and fade into memory. Wanting to show off your favourite version of yourself to the world (or 198 followers) and posting the photo where you and your friends look happiest, your house looks cleanest, or your meal looks healthiest, isn’t inauthentic, it’s authentically human.

Social media isn’t real life, but that’s not the point.

The point is to stop allowing “likes” and the interactions you have on social media define your self-worth. Self-love doesn’t come from the affirmation of others and your personal validation shouldn’t come from the number of likes you get on a #selfie.

If you get up at 5am every morning to work out because it makes you feel healthy and happy, and you want to show off your killer #beachbod on Instagram, I think you should. If you love fashion or saved up to buy a killer outfit and want to show off your #OOTD, post it. If styling and shooting pretty vignettes makes you happy, do it. Just remember you are still the same smart, thoughtful, special, beautiful, important person you were when you posted the photo, as you are at zero likes, at eleven likes, or at a thousand.

Social media isn’t real life, so don’t let it define yours.

“Instaquette”: The Do’s and Please, Just Don’ts of Instagram

For anyone who follows me on social media, you know that I was on a whirlwind European vacation a couple weeks ago with two of my besties. If you did not already know this fun fact it means you have either been living in a hole or don’t follow me on Instagram (both of these thoughts are equally as troubling to me). If you are part of the latter group, do us both a favour and put down your iced coffee and go follow me (@emennett), I promise you won’t regret it.

What I learned on my travels, besides that I hate crowds and find all most museums incredibly dull, is that Instagram has become the most important an extremely important and integral part of our social lives. When you finally find a café and spend eight bucks on a miniature European cup of coffee to use the free Wi-Fi and have to choose between checking in with family and friends back home or instagramming the perfect selfie in London with Big Ben, Instagram wins. Every time.

As the go-to filter consultant, caption advisor and photo editor for my group of followers friends, I have taken it upon myself to help @laurmeis (adoptedbytheeastcoast.blogspot.ca) fight the battle against bad instagramming and break down the do’s and don’ts of Instagram etiquette, also known as “instaquette” (Oxford Dictonary’s Word of the Year for 2015? #justsayin).

The Do’s and Please, Just Don’ts of Instagram

Do: Socialize

I mean, it’s called social media for a reason. Follow friends, celebrities, brands, photographers, special interest groups – whatever inspires you. “Like” and comment on photos you enjoy and admire, and don’t be afraid to generate a conversation.  Some great partnerships, collaborations and even friendships have resulted from engaging on social media platforms.  Oh and if it’s funny or one of those “OMG that’s soooo true”posts, tag me!

Please, Just Don’t: Get Confrontational

Nothing scares me more about our society than the fact that there are people in this world who get in fights with other people on celebrity’s IG posts.  Also, just because it needs to be said, if you comment “first” on a Kardashian’s photo you are a loser and we can’t be friends.

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Do: Take High Quality Photos

Post high quality photos and don’t be afraid to edit or enhance them.  My favourite photo editing apps are Afterlight and Faded. Using a consistent filter makes it easier to maintain a consistent aesthetic and continuity throughout your feed, which according to this study will ultimately lead to more followers and more likes!

Please, Just Don’t: Be an Instagroupie

Don’t like every single photo you see while scrolling through your feed.  Likes have value and giving them away to blurry photos with a Hefe filter diminishes this value.  No one wants to be the skank of Instagram, or worse, an instagroupie.

Do: Be Authentic*

If you aren’t in Vegas don’t post a pic from last spring break and pretend that you are, that’s what #TBTs are for.  Imagine how awkward it would be if you ran into that bitchy girl from your psych class at the mall when you just posted a bikini shot of you on vacation #embarrassing.  Keep it real ladies (and lads)!

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*By all means fix red eye, blur annoying blemishes and up that saturation to fake a faux-glow but girls stop using apps that fake a thigh gap or make you look scary and fake like a porcelain doll.  Nobody is perfect (except Gigi Hadid of course) and our imperfections are what makes us beautiful and unique (so lame but it’s a #fact).

Please, Just Don’t: Flood the Feed

Don’t post multiple pictures in a row, wait at least three hours between posts and NEVER post more than three photos in one day. Don’t use more than three hashtags (10 MAX) and for the love of God, do not ask people to follow you back #desperate.

Hope you find these tips helpful, happy instagramming!