A few weeks ago @socalitybarbie took the internet by storm posting the type of Instagram photos you see Instagrammers post. You know the stuff - people wrapped in blankets, overhead shots of Kinfolk magazine, people standing at the edge of the beach, drinking coffee, etc. A satire on the Instagram community that people are drawn to because... well... satire is really funny.
I actually know the guys at Socality and they are awesome! Doing great things and doing it the way that make sense to them. You can read their response to @socalitybarbie here.
Now here is what I see when I look at the Socality Barbie account. I see something/someone everyone secretly wants to be. Everyone wants hundreds of thousands of followers, people to like their photos, and fame in one way or another. If you hear someone talking on and on about how they don't care about followers it's probably because they actually do. People love feeling like they are loved. It's a desire deep down within our hearts. It's why we all want that special someone to fall in love and live happily ever after with! It's a real desire. And social media is often just a visual representation of that.
I am okay with the desire to want to be "famous"on Instagram. It doesn't bother me one bit. I get why people want to be famous on TV, in movies, etc. Fame brings things that look like a ton of fun. I have friends on Instagram who have literally traveled the world because they are famous on Instagram. That is so cool. And I would love that to be me.
For a while on Instagram I posted photos of people wrapped in blankets, foggy nature-scenery and all the other hipster stuff you see. I thought if I was just like "socalitybarbie" I would become famous and be able to take Brooke on a trip that someone else paid for. I thought being like all those other Instagramers was the key to being famous, credible and praised. I ended up thinking about what I could post so often that I would get stressed out about every follower I lost or gained. Did it get enough likes? Did people comment? Well what about the other photo I posted? Why does that have more likes?! I got a new follower!!! I lost four followers...WHAT IS LIFE!?!? And on an on. Pretty nuts, right?
But I am guessing that I am not the only one that has had those thoughts before...
And this is the part of the story where an awesome wife just makes your life better. One time, Brooke looked at me and said, "Who cares? Just post what you want. People should like you for you, not for who you are trying to be." Instantly I started thinking, "But what if people don't like it? What if I lose followers? What if I don't get as many likes then? What if? What if? What if?"
We spend so much time wondering what other people will think of us, when most likely, they are just wondering what we think of them. Why do we do that? I believe, deep in my heart, that a great God loves me, and yet... I am concerned whether one person on their phone will click the unfollow button? What is wrong with me? Why would I would rather post some overhead photo of a cup of coffee over a picture of someone I love? Why wouldn't I use Instagram as an expression of everything that matters to me instead of everything that seems to matter to others?
All that to say, back in 2014, I challenged myself to take a photo of what t-shirt I wore every single day. I love t-shirts (click play on the video above to see some of them). They are totally and 100% something that I care about and enjoy. But here is a confession: At first I thought the t-shirt thing would turn into a really big deal and people would send me shirts for free. And maybe even pay me to wear them. It didn't turn out like that one bit, but it did turn into something more than I could have ever imagined.
It flourished into me using Instagram to highlight shirts I love, yes, but more importantly it turned into me being myself on social media. It turned into the method with which I told the day to day story of my life. I told people about how I was feeling, what I was doing, what God was teaching me, how much I loved Brooke, how much I hated taxes, where I loved to eat, what I loved to listen to, what I was reading, where I was that day, and that MY DAUGHTER WAS COMING!
Throughout the year I cared less and less about who was following me and what they were liking, and more and more about being myself, telling my story and sharing about the loves of my life. I wasn't trying to be anyone else out there and that came with a lot of freedom. Freedom from what will someone think and all the bull crap anxiety that brings. It was awesome and people actually really loved it.
Because people love authenticity.
Here is my challenge to you. If you are a @socalitybarbie, then I would challenge you to become a former one. I am challenging you to tell your story the way you want to tell it, not the way everyone else is making you think you should tell it. If your life legitimately looks like people wrapped in blankets on the edge of ocean waves and rocky cliffs, then that's great, but if it looks a lot more like photos of dogs, your kids, what you're cooking for your family, the motorcycle you're building, and your fanny pack collection... well, that's great too. In fact, I'd follow that.