Instagram is a funny platform. If it were a person, I like to think it would be hyper self-obsessed and totally unself-aware. The sort of person who spends the entire Zoom call studying their own face in the bottom corner. But somehow charming in spite of that – or maybe because of it. Like that dumb but handsome guy at a party who talks to you very seriously about whether he can pull off dungarees. (It’s all about how tight they are in the thighs, obviously.)
Don’t get me wrong, though. I actually like Instagram a lot – and I’m not the only one.
I’ve enjoyed Instagram a lot more since I discovered you can plumb beyond the influencers and celebrities and find highly active, endlessly friendly communities centred around creative arts.
The one I stumbled into has two main focuses: resurrecting the lost art of swapping letters with penpals, and a kind of self-designed planner system called ‘bullet journalling’. I’ve kept a bullet journal for years, as it’s the only way I’ve found to both keep myself organised and give myself a consistent creative outlet – so this community intrigued me from the moment I stumbled across the #bulletjournals hashtag. I set up an account for it a couple of years ago.
For a long time, my account attracted a meagre influx of followers. I hovered around 100 for the most part. But then this year, like the rest of the world, I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. So I started making more of an effort with my Instagram and seeking out some penpals. And my follower count started to slowly but inexorably tick up.
Now at around 5,600 followers, there are a few things I’ve learned that really surprised me. I thought I’d share them in case anybody’s interested.
This has definitely been a fascinating learning experience. And it’s reminded me that when you use social media to be sociable, rather than just yelling into the void, you can do what it was invented to do: make real, lasting connections with other human beings.
(Something, coincidentally, it’s much easier to do on LinkedIn than on Instagram. So you should definitely follow Six on LinkedIn if you’re not already. We promise to interact with you and not leave you yelling into the void.)