Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Instagram Is Messing with My Head

When it comes to social media, my platforms of choice are this blog and Instagram. The beauty of blogging is that I can go into detail about my quilt-making experiences, perhaps encourage someone to try a new technique, and assemble an online journal of my projects over the years. Blogging takes time, though, and the writing and the photography cut into my sewing time.

Here are some in-progress shots that I haven’t posted on Instagram.
I’m piecing these hexagons by machine.

Instagram is a nice alternative. Its emphasis on pictures is particularly appropriate for the quilting community, and I like to see what everyone else is working on and to get feedback on projects of my own. Unfortunately, I think Instagram is doing me more harm than good these days. I post sparingly—just once a week or so—but I always keep up with the posts of the 200-plus people I follow. What’s the problem with that?

It’s affecting my creativity. I am consuming every day, often multiple times a day, on Instagram. It keeps me informed, but I think it’s undermining my creativity. I need to stop processing what everyone else is doing and to focus on my own projects. If I need inspiration, it’s better to page through an art book, take a walk in my little New England town—pretty much do anything other than look at quilts!

I’m making this runner, from French General fabric, for my dining room.

It has me trying to keep up with my cohort. I can’t help but compare what others are creating, achieving, and finishing on Instagram to my own projects. And all that comparing is giving me a bad case of the I-shoulds: I should be publishing my own patterns! I should be monetizing my hobby! I should be [fill in the blank]! The I-shoulds never serve me well. I need to focus on what I want to do and how I want to spend my time.

My dedication to using all my scraps is evident in this patchwork,
whose squares finish at an inch and a half.

Bottom line: This is a better space for me, and I’m going to focus more on my blog and reading others’ blogs. I won’t disappear from Instagram, but if I’ve connected with you on that platform, I won’t be as in the loop as I have been in the past. Forgive the dearth of likes and comments!

Is any of this resonating with you?  How do you keep your own involvement with social media in check?

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  1. I was just talking about this last week with some other people. Feeling like you should be doing something and then not really fueling yourself creatively. Maybe think about IG differently, just snapshots. You don't know when those snapshots were taken. It's someone's photo album of work, when they want to release it. What's on my IG feed is not usually what I'm working on right now. It's more what I have done and I'm working to blog about. I try to only look at IG 1-2 times/day unless I'm following a particular hashtag for something. Balance is hard with social media. Your comment about looking through a book or going for a walk are great ways to boost creativity.

  2. Social media is a tricky beast. I have always preferred blogs and blog comments. Instagram is especially frustrating now that chronological scroll is out and an algorithm is in. Balance is a tricky beast, but I do aim to get up and away from the screen and make something each day.

  3. Thank you for verbalizing what I feel. I don't IG and it's probably a good thing because I already spend too much time keeping up with the 30 or so blogs I follow. I'd much rather read about process and problems than just look at pretty quilts.

  4. There must be something in the air because I'm also feeling that I'm spending too much time on social media. I don't do IG and only post once a week and I do love reading other quilters' blogs every day which sometimes the inspirations take me away from my project at hand. For me, it's trying to set a certain amount of time for reading and more on sewing/creating.

  5. I like surfing ideas online when I can't sew, it gives me a sewing hit! But if I could be sewing instead of surfing and browsing then yeah it's totally counterproductive:/

  6. Please tell me how you machine piece hexagons...I always hand piece and it seems impossible to machine them with any ease. Is there a book.

    1. I'm working on a tutorial, Gwen! I suspect it will be posted in the next week or two. : )

  7. Well said... if I had a seam sewn for everytime I popped on IG I'd have several quilts finished;-) I'm also struggling with keeping up blogging when it's sooo much easier just to post a pic and be done but I think sharing techniques and lessons learned is so much more important. Keep fighting the good fight, I LOVE seeing what you're up to on all platforms!!! XOXO

  8. Those are my two platforms, too, but I've limited my following a lot. I'm not trying to get recognition for anything, just keep up with a few favorites. I think you are smart to limit the outside influence on your own work, and can see that in your situation, I might wind up doing nothing at all if I continued with the I shoulds. A friend once told me, "Don't should on yourself." It's good advice. You are very creative on your own, and if the level you are working makes you happy, you don't need to do what others do to make them happy. Monetizing sounds great until you are in the middle of it and realize how much work it is and how much your ego takes a beating. While money is always nice, if you don't NEED it, then don't turn your art and passion into dollar bills. It drains some of the joy away. Another friend of mine creates, shares tutorials, gives away ideas - and she's happy doing her own quilting and happy when other people use her designs - without the hassle of publishing and pushing. =) Maybe that's for you, too. Keep loving what you're doing.

  9. It's a funny thing, that IG. I completely understand the platform lends itself to joy-stealing by causing you to compare yourself to others. "Why didn't I think of that?" "How do they have so many things to post?" "Why do their pictures always look perfect?" "I'm stuck, why don't I just look at Instagram. Again." And so the cycle goes. . . But at the end of the day I look at Instagram as my app that helps me skim the news that I know I'll never get around to reading. There are so many incredible artists that have blogs and IG feeds. I will never read all of their blogs or half of their posts. But I can look at a picture, see what they are doing and let them know I'm still admiring what they are making by throwing a like on it. If I'm inspired I'll comment. And if I really need to know more I'll go to their blog. I feel like there are days I'm not in the right mind-frame for IG (or anyone really! ha!). And on those days I take a mental health break from it all. I think it's great your taking an IG vacation for a bit, too. Social media is impossible to keep up with all the time because it never sleeps! EVER! Take some time to slow down and recalibrate. Eventually you'll determine if an IG-fast once in a while is good enough, or abstaining is the way to go. We seem to all be doing some soul-searching on what is best for us. There must be some planetary alignment creating a need to eliminate the garbage and get to the heart of what really matters! I say, do you, and don't apologize! Good luck!

  10. Honestly, I barely use IG. I don't browse incoming images even once a day, more like 5 times a week, haha. I sometimes feel bad for not being more active on IG, because to me the point is always making connections, not consuming pretties. I'll always feel that the real place to make connections is on blogs, because words help a lot with connections! So, there I am... And here I am =)

  11. I totally agree, there is so much content and ways to connect now, that trying to do everything would be a full time job (not even including the time to create the content). I focus mostly on my blog and try to remember to post about my blog content on Facebook and IG when I post (but often it does not happen).

  12. Amen. Hubby has to remind me constantly that I have a full time job. OF COURSE I can't keep up with everyone else. Buuut, IG is easy, and addictive. Blogs take time to write, edit pictures, even taking the pictures takes too much time sometimes. Work-Life-Quilt-Puppy Balance is hard. Very hard.


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