A Hashtag Virgin gets a Lesson in the Lessons of Instagram

I am not looking for Pokémon. In fact, I will gladly admit that when it comes to the latest in technology and social media marvels, I am a deliberate dinosaur. I waited the longest possible time before I finally broke down and exchanged my pager for a cell phone, some 20 years ago. People were using computers and digital cameras for years before I acquired them and I still and hopefully always will prefer old-fashioned books to a Kindle. Indeed, since I have never been stuck on a Survival-type desert island, only allowed to bring three personal things and a TV crew, I have never had much of a problem with access to the printed word.

People have tried to talk me into getting on Facebook forever. They argue that I am loosing out on seeing shots of old school friends, that I am cut-off from ‘reality’, that I won’t know what my son is doing and that it is my duty to friends and family to share my photos with them. I have always stood steadfast by my decision. I do not want to be on Facebook. Frankly, I don’t need to know what my school friends look like and would probably not recognize them anyhow. I’ll never know what my son is up to all the time whether I am on Facebook or not. And I think it is my duty NOT to expose the world to photos of my loved ones and myself, posing while eating, traveling and what have you not. People can post whatever they like, but in my opinion and possibly mine alone, there are enough people out there without me posting my ugly grin every nanosecond, as well.

The other day I was chatting with my son, and he said that I really should get an Instagram account in conjunction with launching my new web site and design business here in Spain. (Coming soon…) “What’s Instagram?”, I asked and my son (probably eye rolling) bombarded me with things like Hashtags and other words that some middle-aged women like myself may not particularly want to know. Yet, I decided to give my lad the benefit of the doubt and did some googling on the subject.

Since the name started with Insta, I thought that a couple of Youtube videos would teach me the ropes and make me determine whether Instagram was for me. Cut to three hours later. I was still on Youtube, having watched at least a handful Instagram-for-Dummies and Instagram-101 tutorials. I was led onto more advanced Tips and Trends on how to grow your followers and how to become an Instagram success while earning millions in the process. As if… What struck me was that the deeper I got into my research, the younger were the self-proclaimed ‘specialists’. I don’t know why this particular fact should surprise me, seeing that most CEOs of multinational companies and many heads of states are a decade or two younger than me. I suppose anyone can be a specialist when it comes to new technology and the majority of cutting-edge social media Apps are probably invented by teens. So I deferred to the specialists:

First, there was the typical squeaky-voiced platinum blonde Californian, using all of her 21 years of vast life-experience, telling me what I must not do, such as not to follow too many people nor to post any old pictures. “I mean, It’s Insta-gram,” she hoity-toity-ed, very close to adding a “Duh!”

Then there was the hip Asian Instagram brainchild, babbling faster than a Spanish sports commentator, giving me the 10 or was it the 101 ways to gain business success with Instagram. I didn’t doubt that her advice had some credit, I was just curious as to how many businesses she had had time to run?

Next was the a slightly dubious looking Baltic fellow telling me how to instantly gain millions of followers, as he undoubtedly have, by clicking ‘Follow’ on every link possible and then immediately de-clicking them. Why would anyone want to ‘trick’ people into following them, unless their sole goal is to brag about how many followers they have? I am not in need of company, nor do I need a following, virtual or otherwise.

The last ‘expert’, and this was the final straw, was a pre-pubescent boy lecturing the world on his Instagram success, while being filmed against what looked like the tool wall in dad’s garage in the dullest of suburbs. He told the World-Wide-Web and all of us listeners out there that one simply HAD to be funny, like, to be on Instagram, which he probably thought his boofy 1950s coif made him, though to me he was rather pathetic. There clearly must be something in the saying that ‘Youth is wasted on the young’. The kid went on and on about how being good-looking helped, like, and how, like, he had gained his vast popularity, like, with…

I could listen to no more.

In spite of the specialists, I did make an Instagram account and even managed to add a few photos and hashtags. “Are hashtags the same as the tags we used before?”, my husband asked me. Checking the Internet, I discovered that it is actually so. A hashtag is just a type of label, or tag, used on social networks and blogs etc., making it easier for other users to find articles and posts with a specific theme or content. So, as an example, since I like rocks, (which probably is dreeeeadfully boring to most people…) I could look under hashtags such as  #rocks, #stone’ and #fossils to find likeminded rock lovers.

In spite of my initial trepidation, I enjoy Instagram – for now. I have discovered amazing images of gorgeous fabrics from Pakistan, mind-blowing architecture and design from cities around the world, lovely Asian food and flower arrangements and nature shots that make your jaw drop, none of which I would have seen had I not explored Instagram. I like the fact that somebody on the other side of the globe might appreciate a photo I have taken, and visa versa. I might post pictures of Andalucian vistas, a snapshot of something I am restoring, a photograph of a texture, a colour, a ray of light or anything grabbing my passing fancy. And I won’t mind if you don’t like it. The day I feel that Instagram is too invasive or addictive, I will simply close up shop. In the meantime, I can promise you this. I will not post a single photo of dinners with friends and family. There are some things that ‘the world’ does not need to see.

Feel free to check out my still-on-training-wheels Instagram page: iamasnobb

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