So what’s the point of Instagram for readers, writers, or anyone else who’s all about the words?
I mean, here’s the thing with IG.
It’s just photos.
I know, shocker, right? I bet you hadn’t realised that! I mean, it’s not like you regularly run across people holding their increasingly mushy ice creams up to the sky or river or beach, while trying snap a photo that doesn’t include the seagull coming in for the attack. It’s not as if we spot people standing on a table to get the perfect shot of their coffee, or spending twenty minutes taking selfies to get just that right angle. And it’s not like there’s such a thing as Instagram-ready make-up…
Okay, so yes, there are all these things. Even the make-up one. I read an article on it for some reason. Don’t ask me why. I learned nothing from it other than it’s another reason to be happy that I’m rarely the subject of my photos if you have to go to that much trouble.
And I don’t say any of this to have a go. Want to turn every ice cream stop into a photo shoot? Go for it. Ice cream’s pretty. It’s also tasty, but if you don’t mind it melted, what do I care? Same with the food and drink shots. Why not, right? And if you want to fill your feed with selfies? If it makes you happy, do it. Just remember that those likes aren’t about your worth as a person. They’re just about the photo. Don’t take them to heart. That’s when things start going a bit wonky. (I’m a writer. I know all about taking external validation – or the lack thereof – far too much to heart).
But all that aside – if you’re a reader or a writer, why on earth would you be on Instagram? What’s the point, in a sea of selfies and food photography and weirdly soulless aspirational memes?
Cats. (Okay, pet of your choice).
Bookstagram is a thing, and it’s glorious. It’s full of ridiculously creative and talented people, posting wildly beautiful pictures of their books, as well as people that maybe aren’t as good on the photography side but more than make up for it with sheer passion and enthusiasm. There are people sharing secondhand treasures and brand spanking new advanced reader copies. There are accounts dedicated to horror or romance or classics or any genre you can imagine. There are bookshelves that give you life goals (sorry, #lifegoals), and indie authors being so entertaining that you have to pick up their books just because. There are readers and writers and book reviewers and bloggers from all over the world, and they all have one thing in common – books. Books, and the love thereof. It’s like the most interesting and varied book fair in the world, only better, because you can attend at home in your PJ’s, and not be wandering around some over-crowded and draughty hall, trying to see over people’s shoulders and queuing for the loo, all the while wondering why everything smells vaguely of old incense and burnt candy floss.
So other than the not-insignificant impact it can have on your bank account (I want all the books), there’s no downside to being a reader (or writer) on Instagram. People are chatty, too. I mean, we all like talking about books, right? I’ll admit that I felt weird about it at first. For a start, I think I’m about twenty years older than about half the people I follow, and ten years older than the rest. It makes me feel like that weird aunt who’s always trying to be down with the kids (see, I even have the dodgy expressions), or like a nosy older neighbour. But, in the end, books are ageless. We don’t have to be the same age to like the same stories. And while some of the pop culture stuff might go over my head (what even is a funko pop, anyway? Isn’t that some kind of music?), books are always common ground.
And let’s not forget reason two. Cats. Instagram loves cats. Pets in general, really, but for obvious reasons my interest tends to run to the feline variety. Many areas of Instagram, in fact, embrace both the #bookstagram and #instacat tags, and this makes me happy. Books and cats, in my phone, any time I choose to look. I’m sorry, how are you not convinced by this? There are majestic Maine Coons, and goofy little Munchkins, and cats with missing legs or funny eyes or weight problems that put Layla’s middle-aged spread into perspective. And they’re all beautiful. And then there are Corgis, and Huskies, and long-suffering writers’ dogs waiting for the walk that’ll come after that one next chapter. And that’s not even mentioning hedgehogs, and pigs, and bearded dragons.
I started on Instagram ages ago, and I can’t even remember why. I think it was to promote my personal training business, and there’s certainly a lot of that sort of thing to be found. I mean, if you like to look at nothing but post-workout selfies. #nopainnogain #whatsyourexcuse, etc. My intense dislike for this aspect of gym culture may have something to do with why I never enjoyed working in them. And it took me a long time to find my place on IG. I spent a lot of time posting cat photos, because obviously the little furry muse is beautiful, and when it came to my writing I didn’t really know where to start with it. I still don’t. I know I get a little traffic to the blog from IG, but it’s hardly worth it.
You know what is worth it, though?
Conversations about books and cats.
And I think that’s the thing. Lovely readers and writers, if you want to have a place for these conversations, go to it. IG really isn’t all about selfies. I can’t remember the last one that popped up on my feed. I do know I drooled over at least three bookshelves and aww’ed at a sleeping cat this morning, though.
And you can come say hi to me over there, too. I need more books and cats to look at.
Are you in Instagram? What social media do you enjoy, and why? Let me know below, and feel free to tag me on your social media of choice – I love having more people in my phone to talk to!