A little over a week ago, my phone provider EE decided to make my life a living hell by sending me a faulty replacement handset. After smashing my iPhone screen to smithereens whilst snap chatting (SO embarrassing I know) I decided enough was enough and called up for a replacement. That and the fragments of glass that kept coming off on my fingers was a note to self that unfortunately the cracked screen life was not working out for me. Little did I know the hell I was about to experience for the next three days but more surprisingly exactly how reliant I have become on my iPhone. Specifically, social media.
As a blogger, I'm constantly documenting my life through photography on my fashion and more recent fitness Instagram account @gemmatalbotfitness so I guess you could say that having a phone is pretty fundamental. I use social media as a loose term but really it covers snapchat, Instagram stories, Twitter, Facebook... the social media list really has become endless. Whilst I don't tend to document my life too heavily compared to some other bloggers (I'm still yet to do an Instagram live session) a forced social media detox made me feel anxious and dare I say withdrawn.
Having zero data or means of connecting to any of my social platforms made me realise just how reliant I have become on my smart phone. Quite frankly it's slightly worrying to be honest. I mean how did my parents cope without a smart phone? Imagine life now with a Nokia 3210. I mean quite frankly I just can't, can you? Would you believe I almost cancelled a hair appointment because I had no access to Google maps or clue where I was heading. A little embarrassing I know. Yes I am that person who uses the blue Google maps arrow to point me in the right direction in a poor attempt to feel like I'm able to read a map. Unfortunately, its never been a life skill I've ever been able to master. I mean does anyone even use an actual map these days? I remember as a little girl my Dad used to mark out his routes around London with a blue biro on his A-Z maps. Oh how the times have changed.
I by no means consider myself a big blogger. In literal terms, I'd probably be labelled as a micro-blogger but I'm happy with that. I use the term blogger, because I still can't seem to grasp the idea of referring to myself as an influencer. It's just a label that until now just doesn't seem to stick. The point I'm trying to make is that whilst I absolutely love my job and the perks it brings, I do often feel a pressure to document my life. This might well be down to the sheer fact that other bloggers like myself, with very similar following are trying to establish themselves and become recognised and respected in the industry. A very fickle one at that. Whilst I am slowly getting more into documenting my life on social media I'll be completely honest with you, I absolutely hate myself on camera. What is it about the front facing camera that makes you look 100 times uglier than normal?! There's something about a snapchat filter that makes me feel a little more comfortable in my own skin and allowing strangers to see snippets of my life. People forget that it is just that though. Snippets of often over glamorised parts of ones life that are a far cry from reality. I'm not a braggy person and sometimes I feel social media can paint the illusion that you are doing just that....bragging.
With a large amount of my followers predominately being on Instagram, this is where I try to focus my efforts in terms of creating the most aesthetically pleasing content possible. Every brunch, holiday and social event is a photo opportunity. The term "Instagrammable" often pops up in conversation and can be a deciding factor as to whether I make a trip there in the first place. I'll hold my hands up and say that I've been known to research the Instagram geo-tag before hand to see if I like the look of it. Enough to make a trip to wherever it may be or scrap those plans altogether. When I write it down it makes me sound very shallow I know. Some of you may be rolling your eyes, whispering under your breath "get a grip girl" and to some extent I agree with you. Have you ever researched a place purely through Instagram, turned up and it look a lot less pleasing in real life? Bordering on disappointing? Well that's my point exactly. Social media has the ability to over glamorise everything, making even a pink wall seem like the best thing since sliced bread.
With influencers producing such beautiful content, it's natural to want to keep up with your competition. I hate calling it this, as I really am for girl power and girls sticking together but as I now call blogging my job other bloggers are ultimately just that....competition. So with that in mind, creating beautiful content is at the forefront of my mind. ALWAYS. From capturing that perfect runny 'yolk porn' shot for your Saturday brunch Instagram upload alongside a perfectly whitty caption about an egg-cellent breakfast to that nonchalant beach shot, every opportunity is an Instagram opportunity in my eyes. It's also about staying relevant in a bubble that is so fast paced and ever-changing and nobody wants to be considered as irrelevant. If you'd told me five years ago how important social media would become or that it would well be my job I probably would have laughed. It still astounds me how influential social media can be but ultimately it's a numbers game. You can often be left feeling like a nobody because you have less than 100K followers. I know some brands don't even want to know you unless you've got a certain number of Instagram followers, let alone pay you for creating content. In a pretty fickle industry it really is all about how influential you are and sometimes that really is so daunting.
Some people may be sitting reading this and rolling their eyes, heck I probably would too if it wasn't my job. My friend Sophie recently tagged me in a Lad Bible video on Facebook about her boyfriend messing up her perfectly posed Instagram shot by stirring her food mid-shot and whilst it is hilarious and had me in stitches, I probably would be a little annoyed if my boyfriend did that to me. He'd certainly be picking up the bill that's for sure. I joke....or do I?! You may think I'm superficial but all I can say in my defence is I'm really not. I'd like to say I am very humble and grounded which is something I hope will never change. I just often feel a real pressure to create good content that I can share with my followers and as previously mentioned you really have to seize every opportunity. I mean if you didn't Instagram the crap out of it, did it even happen in the first place? This my friend is a sign of the times.
At first I thought that this superficial stance may be down to bloggers. Often it can border on ridiculous and even I know the limit. I was recently at a press day and witnessed the most epic blogger Instagram fail. In an attempt to nail that perfect Instagrammable shot of her Molly Bakes freak shake, she dropped the whole thing on the floor. Chocolate ice cream, sauce and all. I'm not even exaggerating when I say it was Art Attack worthy. I mean if that were me I'd want the ground to swallow me up, especially as it happened in a room full of people. Whilst I wouldn't personally go to those lengths where do you draw the line?! If I ever stood on a chair in a restaurant to take an Insta photo I think my friends would disown me. One thing I have noticed though is that my friends have become more social media savvy and I welcome this with open arms. Often snapchatting their brunches and taking photos just like I would, it's definitely become more of a thing to document your life more heavily. I mean other than the whatsapp time stamp how else will you know if your nearest and dearest are alive and well. Secretly, I think I like that my friends and people in general are getting more social media savvy because it makes my job seem a little more normal. Hopefully the "oh so you take photos of yourself for a living" comments will be one that will pass over time.
With a slightly superficial stance to social media what are your thoughts on its importance? Do you think there's a fine line before you come Insta obsessed and a bit of an air head or is it time to accept that this is part of the world we now live in? If you are to take one thing away from this blog post it would be to remember that social media really does over glamorise many aspects of everyday life. Don't get yourself down because your life doesn't match up to that. Remember that often a photo is just that and often a far cry from reality. Behind every perfectly filtered Instagram photo, there's a story so try not to be so quick to judge when you often don't know the bigger picture. We're all guilty of it, even I am but isn't it about time we saw the bigger picture?