Lucia has been wanting Instagram since she got a phone for her twelfth birthday. Now she's thirteen-and-a-half. I've known for a long time that eventually I will say yes to her request. Last night while shopping at Nordstrom Rack for sports bras, she asked me again if she could get Instagram. "Yes," I said. Her eyes bulged in excitement. "But," I continued, "give me a little time to think about it."
"To come up with a contract?" she asked.
"Yes." I said, "I want to think more about why I'm resisting it and make a plan with you about how and why to use it."
"Can I write you an essay?" Lucia shot back. "I want to write you an essay about why I want it."
"That would be perfect." I said, so relieved for this solution and temporary stay on the inevitable Instagram activation. Lucia is a great writer and fantastic arguer. I hope debate and/or a career in law are in her future because then her arguments will be against other people and not me. Expecting a more typical teenage rant about what an uptight mom I am, I was pleasantly surprised by Lucia's response. She's been patient. Most of her friends have Instagram and/or SnapChat or other social media. I get why she wants it, but I also get how it is the path of no return and I want to step really thoughtfully onto that path.
I use Instagram and FaceBook for marketing for the yoga studio and even as a business persona, it makes me incredibly insecure and I often feel inadequate after a scroll through those sites. The other day I told my partner Nancy that I think I want to have another career. "The yoga industry is too competitive," I whined. "I don't want to be in this game."
"You've been on social media" Nancy half-questioned/half-stated. "Don't do that Laura. It's really bad for you."
She was right. I had been on Instagram scrolling through all of the incredibly creative retreats and classes and videos that people in Yoga Land were promoting and it made me feel like a little old raisin in a rocking chair with zero cool factor. I am grateful for Nancy's reminder. It snapped me out of that tailspin and I remembered who I was. I am in this business because I love yoga. I love my community. I love my job. That's real. Instagram isn't.
So as I embark on this conversation about Instagram for Lucia, what do I want her to know?
- Instagram isn't real. It's like a video game and an art project. People are creating ideas, constructing future worlds, managing images.
- Instagram isn't you. It's a veil of a part of you, but it's not your authentic self. It's the outfit you wear for going to a specific party or restaurant or play. It's not your cozies that you put on when you're hanging at home with your bestie.
- Instagram doesn't endure. It's short lived and fleeting. It doesn't help to build your character or internal compass as you move into adulthood. It doesn't remind you when you're acting petty or immature. It doesn't guide you on a path towards a creative, inspiring career or relationship. You get that from your friends, your family, not from your followers.
As I work through all of these things about Instagram I want to share with Lucia, I'm keenly aware of how relevant they are for me. I'm going to say yes to Instagram and it will be soon. I'm scared and I'm worried, but it will happen. My hope is that Lucia will be able to play and have fun with Instagram, to feel like she's a part of the big video game of life, but that she will also keep in mind what is good and true about herself, that she will always have people in her life who remind her what is real.