I Want To Thank All My Unfollowers

“A fixation with connecting with ‘friends’ online comes with the risk of disconnection with friends waiting for you to be present in the offline world.” 

– Craig Hodges

I’ll be honest with you all, I’m more granola than I am Instagram model. I’ve never been or thought of myself as sexy, or someone who could sell their face or body as some sort of brand. But when I started Be You. I realized I had to sell myself. I had to create this image of myself and be consistent and devoted to it. I needed to make those watching fall in love with the person I am, or the person I wanted them to see.

Be You. being built on the platform of welcoming real-life struggles made mastering Instagram really tough. Be You. is supposed to be a refuge for the different and unique, a haven of sorts where real life can happen and it be okay. I wanted a safe place for people to read about and engage with other people not oversaturated by what’s plastered on the internet.

Somehow through building my brand and trying to find other likeminded souls to travel this journey with me, I lost sight of the Be You. purpose. Yes, I am an internet-based entity, but what really goes on in Be You. happens in the real world. This means I have to be involved in the real world for the brand to work. However, the real world and success on social media very rarely coincide in the same space. I was constantly on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and you guessed it – Instagram.

You’ve read, or I hope you’ve read, about my journey to become more mindful. Now considering all I’ve just said about the devotion Instagram requires, how well do you think I was doing at living in the present moment?  Yeah…… All of my present moments happened on the internet. Liking others photos, leaving thoughtful comments, posting on my InstaStory, and even my movements through the world were marked with “Can you take a picture of me?” So now I’m editing photos and choosing the content. I’m coming up with thoughtful and relevant hashtags and deciding if this place is “cool enough” for a geotag.

And would you believe it? I was popular. The official Be You. Instagram had almost 10,000 followers. Each picture grossed between 400 and 600 likes. The website was booming with people reading my posts and engaging with one another. I was working with brands that fit with my own and I thought I was happy. But living in the moment, moment to moment, non-judgmentally and constantly engaging on social media to make sure you stay relevant don’t fit. They’re two puzzle pieces from two different boxes. I was popular in a world that didn’t exist – or only existed in an invisible, non-engageable, wifi space.

I deleted my Be You. Instagram and I focused on just my personal one. I figured I could slowly and organically re-grow my following through thoughtful engagement and posts. I could be normal, in the real world, and be just as popular. Boy was I wrong. I limited my Instagram time each day to 30 minutes and I lost 70 followers. I stopped posting as many pictures of me in tight outfits, or of me period, and I lost about 160 likes per post. I had restarted and I was being true to myself and my vow to live in the real world, and I was failing at gaining support for Be You.

Come to find out, my failure was inevitable. Instagram orchestrated this type of reception with their new algorithm.

  1. If you spend less time on Instagram they reward you by letting fewer people that may be interested in your content see it.
  2. If you change your caption they penalize you with less exposure.
  3. If you’re a normal person with normal person pictures then you don’t get as much publicity.
  4. If you’re a business account (which Be You. is because it’s a personal blog) and you’re not the most popular then people won’t see you, unless they follow one of your hashtags. My assumption is this hopes to promote “businesses” to pay for posts to be promoted.
  5. If you’re on Facebook (which I’m not anymore) then you get privileges from the two programs being owned by one company.

I’m sure there are many more, but those are the ones I found most consistently.

For normal people like me: A graduate student, with basically no expendable income, that doesn’t have time to constantly engage or create the most beautiful content to constantly supply the internet with, and definitely wants to get this doctorate sooner rather than later……it can be really tough! I don’t want to spend money to promote a post. I don’t want to spend, or more accurately, waste valuable time from my life devoted to internet “friends.”

But you do start to feel like maybe something is wrong with you, especially when the purpose of the content is authenticity. The interaction and posts that were working before are no longer working. Your platform, the one you were proud of before, is no longer intriguing to people. This is what caused me to go looking for reasons. What I found was your typical Black Mirror type trickery. Instagram takes your engagement and subsequently decreases your followers, to increase your personal engagement with the app by banking on your desire to gain that engagement back. Confusing, I know.

Well Instagram, even though you’ll definitely win the war with the masses, you’ve lost this battle to Be You. I hope they lose a few more battles along the way because there is nothing like being a part of this beautiful world. Even with all of the negativity and current political turmoil, when you have people that love you and true appreciation for the beauty and ingenuity of this world moments are priceless.

I think I’ll keep my “picture perfect life [versus the one] you lie about in your captions.”  

Unmasked

April 10th, 2017

This week has been a weird week for me. It seems like the past few weeks I’ve started to realize I’ve been wearing masks. Not literal masks, but through my clothing. I’ve been wearing what everyone else wanted to see me in. I was wearing things I was expected to wear, styles I was expected to like, but now since I’ve started selling all of my clothes I’m stuck. I’m left with things I truly love, but those things aren’t enough to make a full wardrobe. Many of them are basics: basic long-sleeves, basic crop tops, basic one pieces, basic flannels. Just basics. Everyone needs basics and everyone loves their basics, but no one, or very few, have a whole wardrobe of just basics, right?

So now I’m left with essentially rebuilding from the bottom. I’m faced with the task of deciding what I want people so see me as, and building a wardrobe that reflects that. I tried, previously, to use the Nordstrom money for work clothes, for my new graduate school position, but I’m still lost. I look at everything I used to throw into my shopping carts and no longer find myself in any of them. I’ve realized I don’t like frilly shirts. I don’t like things with crazy patterns. I don’t like floral designs. I’m not a huge fan of the off-the-shoulder. I don’t like short shorts. I don’t like boob revealing shirts. I don’t want those 3-quarter length pants everyone is wearing now. I don’t like peplums. I don’t want anything with a huge graphic on it. I don’t like most things, now that I’m making this list, and this isn’t even the whole list!

But I do like basics. I guess it’s weird. I went through a preppy stage. I had a punk stage. I was a hipster for a while. But now I’m starting from the beginning and all I want are basics. I just want white shirts in innovative shapes. I just want long blazers in neutral colors. I don’t want shorts that cling, but shorts that flow. I don’t want pants with designs, but neutral colors in a pioneering style.

I started this piece to talk about how I feel like I don’t know myself anymore, but I guess I do know myself. I do know what I want and what I want to see myself in. I am an understated person. I’m chill, but I have a bit of flare. I’m calm, but can be very sharp. As I write this I realize that’s the exact style I’ve described. I’m not lost. I just need to become comfortable again with doing what I want, and wearing what I want. I need to feel comfortable not doing what people expect, but doing what I love. I guess that’s all I’ve got to do – Until Next Time My Friends – Be You.

Minimalism – Day 1

February 20th, 2017

I was looking at the pile on my couch in the living room of all the things I plan to sell and it hit me. This is really happening. I’m really doing this. My closets are becoming emptier by the day as I challenge myself with what I do and do not need. For a minute I felt like a little kid whose favorite toy had just been taken away. It’s hard to explain the real feeling, but it felt something like the true essence of greed. I had the urge to take everything and put them back on the hangers, restore everything to its original place. When I noticed that 4 of my items had already been bid on and were going to sell, I felt the same twinge. I didn’t want to let it go.

I think one of the hardest things about this processes is that I am essentially redefining myself by the most bare and real definitions. Neither the things that I own nor the clothes that I wear define me, but only the real person inside. It feels as though I’m naked, almost. What I wear tells you nothing now about who I am. What I own tells you very little about what I like. For the first time in my life I have to let my personality, my real personality speak for itself. I have to put myself out there and allow others to really get to know me. It’s actually a bit terrifying, if I’m being completely honest with you.

I’ve worked so hard to become the person I am today, but I never really had to show it. I could hide behind my clothing, or my preference of solitude, and be myself by myself. I could let other things speak for me, but now I’m forced to speak for myself. And not only an I completely exposed to others, but I’m 100% exposed to myself. I’m forced to see those greedy moments where I want to turn back. Those selfish moments where I want to keep just for the sake of keeping. I’m not faced with just the beautiful parts of me, but the ugly. I didn’t realize this practice would be so profound, but I’m ready and I’m staying the course!