I tried, I really did. But Instagram finally got the better of me.
Settling on the kind of post I wanted to present was my first problem. Many bookstagrammers (what the bookish folk on Instagram call themselves) include the complete publisher’s description of the book, followed by their own discussion and evaluation of the book. The text area often includes lots of emojis, stars (as in a five-star rating), and other illustrative touches. Since I was usually reading these posts on my phone (another Instagram drawback that I’ll get to in a moment), I felt nearly overwhelmed trying to assimilate all this on that tiny screen. Add to all that content the fact that my eyes are now elderly, and my experience with digesting other people’s posts was more frustrating than entertaining or enlightening. I therefore decided to keep my own posts short and simple: a sentence or two summarizing the story line, followed by some overall evaluative comments.
Which brings me to my second problem. Since Instagram is intended to look like a series of spontaneously created posts, members must use the phone app for uploading photos and creating text about them. Although you can view Instagram in a web browser on a desk computer, you can’t post from there. I’ve never considered my phone a good writing implement; in fact, I still type with one finger whenever I’m forced to use it.
So I soon began typing up my posts in the Pages program on my Mac desk computer. I could then open the file in the Pages app on my iPhone and copy/paste the appropriate section of text into an Instagram post. This approach had the advantage of allowing me to compose several posts at once and then spread out posting them individually over several days. But the copy/past procedure soon got cumbersome as I sometimes lost control over those bracket-like things that mark both ends of the passage to be copied and pasted.
But my third problem, the photos themselves, finally did me in. The photos are, of course, the whole point of Instagram in the first place. My idea of an Instaphoto was to put down a colorful scarf, place my book upon it, and snap a photo of the cover. Slam, bam, thank you ma’am.
How naive of me. I quickly realized that everyone else’s photos were way better than mine. Many people seemed to have big houses with unlimited shelf space on which to display and photograph their books. When we retired a few years ago, we downsized to a small, single-floor living unit in a retirement community. Between my limited floor space and my crammed bookshelves, I had trouble finding any place to compose a beautiful, complex photo shoot. Moreover, when we downsized and moved, I got rid of a life’s worth of collected “stuff”—all those little items like decorative teapots, holiday decorations, and even candles and pinecones that bookstagrammers use to garnish their photos. I also don’t have any cats or dogs, those other favorite decorative touches for photo illustrations.
So I went in search of articles about how to create killer Instagram photos. I read a lot about purchasing various professional backgrounds and lighting equipment for that perfect photo. And then there are all the photo-editing and -enhancing apps available with which to soften the focus and add effects like twinkly stars or color washes. And that was when I decided that all this simply wasn’t worth the effort. I could more effectively spend my time reading more books and writing more book reviews for my blog.
And now that I’ve written all this, I see that when I asked myself why I quit Instagram to begin this post, I was asking the wrong question. I should have asked myself why I ever started Instagram in the first place, and I should have asked before I ever signed up for an Instagram account. I realize now that I didn’t begin on Instagram with an appreciation of what Instagram inherently is. I looked at it as a way to attract more potential readers to my blog.
And I don’t regret the decision to abandon Instagram at all.
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown