I follow two quite different women on Instagram who posted photos of their kitchens this week. Fashion and lifestyle blogger, ‘carasuthers’ who is followed by 50K plus people, posted a picture of her beautiful kitchen with her lovely dog sat in the middle. The other picture, posted by ‘working class/single mum writer ‘cashcarraway’, followed by nearly 9K, was of her new council home kitchen that she is moving into.
Underneath Cashcarraway’s picture she wrote quite a powerful message about how her life, ‘Is not Instagramable..A list of things NOT Instagramable: a poundland diet, homelessness, suicide, zero-hour contracts..’ She wrote how, ‘I’m done with all the bullshit. My life is real. I’ve got nothing to sell you.’ It was hard-hitting and many people commented their support underneath. I wrote that it may be the new Instagram.
Both Instagrammers regularly update on their pictures and stories (although Cashcarraway has been offline for a while due to personal issues) but they live very different lives. One often does #ads and sponsored posts alongside her other posts, while the other talks about her life and how difficult it’s been. But they both wear nice clothes most of the time! It got me thinking about why I follow them both and admire them. Cara because she’s aspirational? Cash because she’s inspiring? I wondered why other people might follow them and why we ‘follow’ anyone who is actually a stranger to us. Do more women feel the need to follow/learn from/feel empathy for others than men…perhaps.
It also reminded me about the ongoing debate over Instagram showing a ‘fake’ world. This manifested on Netmums a few months ago. (see earlier blog post re Instamums V Netmums) Some people called out the Instamums and dads who are being given free stuff/advertising and not declaring it’s ad.. the thread morphed into a debate over child privacy, being ‘gifted’ when you already have enough and even nastiness in some anonymous cases.
I don’t think there’s a simple answer as I said in an earlier blog, people aren’t doing the same thing as they do in real life as they do online. Whether that’s saying something you wouldn’t normally say, having interaction with someone you wouldn’t with in real life or showing something that doesn’t really reflect reality. These online platforms make it so easy to do. And that’s where the lines become crossed and the grey areas start.
I admire both of these women for different reasons but I also feel envy, empathy, indifference at times. I question why I’m interested in their lives when I should be focusing on my own and wonder why other women might be following them or if they even question why. It’s a weird world when you might know more about someone you follow online than what your own mother might be having for dinner/how she is feeling right now.
Yes there is this ‘Instagram’ world which is being used by advertisers and influencers in more of a subtle or duplicitous way to sell products but a lot of people are ‘buying it’. However, are people becoming wise to the ‘sponsored’ post? If I post something where I’m clearly ‘reviewing’ a day out or café, less people like the picture than when I’m showing passion for something I’m doing on my own.
I’ll keep following these women as I’m interested in them. I’ll try not to click on every ‘story’ as I need to limit the time I spend on Instagram, especially this half-term. But maybe one day, we’ll see Cashcarraway’s designer kitchen as she’ll probably write a best-selling book or something. Watch this space.