“Chicken periods scrambled with pig flesh” – that’s how 18-year-old Essena O’Neill (the model who renounced social media a few weeks ago) re-wrote a caption of scrambled eggs and bacon.
I get her whole thang – social media is self-absorbed blah blah – and applaud her wanting to stop young girls feeling shit. (A photo of her poncing about in a bikini was re-captioned: “stomach sucked in, strategic pose, pushed up boobs. Its contrived perfection made to get attention.”)
But please don’t ruin breakfast. Or Instagram.
As a parent they’re the two things Sellotaping my life together: a solid feed and contact with the outer world that doesn’t require putting shoes on. But in the mildly irksome narrative of Carrie Bradshaw, whose name makes me feel like a dinosaur (the pilot launched in 1998), ‘so, I got to thinking…’
I see Instagram as an extended photo album. When flicking through the physical albums from the 80s, there was an absence of rubbishness – they were just good memories. I agree it’s not real life, but I share my real life with real people – it’s my best friend who will see me grappling with our increasingly shit can opener (the one utensil holding our culinary lives together) – not my 8,800 followers.
And it’s not an issue of privacy, more a wish not to bore the pants off people with my poor kitchen utensil choices. Sure, Instagram is an edited version of our lives but I think most parents recognise that. If you don’t like it, unfollow.
Selfies aside, I’ve found Instagram to be an integral part of a movement of parents saying, ‘let’s own this’. They’ve realised the power of social media and are using it to their advantage. Whereas ten years ago you needed bricks and mortar to truly engage with your customers, now you can build a huge following for free inbetween breastfeeding and nappy changing.
Instagram has meant many hugely talented mothers and fathers who had to put their careers aside for financial or, worse, discriminatory reasons can finally create a career that fits around their family.
Where Instagram gets scary is the digital altering element – I know someone who Photoshops the mess out of her house and uploads that image. People don’t expect brutal reality, but it shouldn’t be dishonest either. And while it’s a completely welcoming community, it’s a realistic one, too – it’s not all sunshine and roses and I don’t trust anyone who isn’t occasionally bitchy. But overall there’s less ‘what is she doing’, and more, ‘what can we do together?’
Instagram for me is a door for parents to reclaim their work-life balance. We’re parents who want a career that allows us to pick-up our kid from daycare without feeling the shame of leaving the office an hour before everyone else. We want something that is ours and ours alone to build without the constraints of working hours, office politics and maternity leave discussions.
We’re parents who don’t necessarily want it all, but want something. And that something is becoming a reality through Instagram.
Mine’s an eggs and bacon, please.