Hollow followings

I know this is a controversial way to start a blog post, but I think you lot can probably deal with it.

You know when you quite like someone and then realise they vote Tory?

Well, this is exactly the feeling I get when I realise people have bought their Instagram followers.

It’s that sinking feeling of disappointment, pursued by a creeping feeling of disdain. I know that makes me sound like a bit of a bitch, but at least I’m being honest. I judge people who buy their Instagram followers.

Big time.

I started my Instagram page when I moved to Leith in the middle of last year, because I was so excited about the area and its non-stop happenings. Street food, cool bars, amazing restaurants, great second hand shops, the list goes on and on. As a passionate writer, I thought I’d link my Instagram to my blog and become a more active member of the online Edinburgh community that I get so much pleasure from being a part of.

I’ve grown my followers organically, and from engaging with people whose interests align with my own (or at least, I like to think they do. Most of the time they’re much more interesting/fashionable, but what’s a gal without her dreams?). From being primarily about Leith and stuff going on there, the blog has evolved into what I loosely term “life and style”, featuring photos and articles on places around Edinburgh – and, when I’m lucky enough, places outside of the UK too.

I get such a buzz knowing that the majority of people who follow me have chosen to do so, because for whatever reason the content they see appeals to them. So it sounds heavy, but for me, realising that a person has bought their followers leads me to question their integrity, and the extent to which it’s been compromised. Yes, everybody likes seeing their follow count go up, but I don’t think Instagram should be used as two dimensionally as that.

It’s such a powerful tool to connect with people both on and offline. I’ve had the absolute pleasure of meeting some inspirational people doing amazing things because I have an honest, organic following and whatever perks or benefits I get out of my Instagram page and blog is earned from the effort I put into it.

Fine, it’s Instagram,  whatever way you look at it there is a degree of self-indulgence, but to use it as a platform to falsely influence another person’s perception of you screams insecurity and vanity all at once. Surely your online presence should reflect you as a person, to at least some extent?

We’re all guilty of projecting a degree of fallacy in our posts, but I think we’ve now reached the point where we all accept that, and still choose to appreciate what has become a sort of an art form. The bent leg, the candid pose, the false smile, the perfect lipstick, the moaning boyfriend/sister/mum behind the camera. These are just some of the measures deployed in the effort to achieve an insta-worthy photograph, but anyone with a slither of sense knows that this stuff isn’t real – especially when the very people in such photos keep telling you so.

To look at accounts with thousands of followers only to notice suspiciously low engagement fills me with a sort of disappointment, because it reflects a much bigger message: that people are increasingly unable to appreciate what they have, rather than the things they don’t. Yes, Instagram can be used for both personal and business pursuits, but I don’t think it should be the dogged recepticle of a tireless masquerade.

So let’s stop caring so much what everyone else thinks about our follower count and keep using Instagram in the way it’s meant to be used: for fun (with a side of self-indulgence).

Over and out,

Charlotte McRanterson

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