I love my Instagram account, @whimsicalillustration. I’m not kidding, it is my favourite app for following everything I’m interested in. It has been a lifeline to me during my struggles with chronic illness, it has been a critical business tool as an artist, and, above all, I have met the most amazing friends there.
However, (there’s always a however), I tend to get sucked into the numbers; the number of followers, the number of likes, the number of comments. I sometimes even let the numbers affect my day and my mood. For example, if one post doesn’t get as much engagement as another I agonize over it. Did I post at the right time? Maybe this drawing wasn’t good enough? Perhaps I need to draw more of this instead of that? Do people find I’m posting too much, or maybe I’m posting too little? Aaaaggghhh… I can literally drive myself bananas thinking things through, all because of the blasted NUMBERS!
The thing is, we humans are hard wired for approval, and those numbers feed that need. They make us feel accepted, they give us a sense of belonging, and let’s be honest, everyone needs to belong. This need for approval and belonging are natural, and not bad in and of themselves because we are not created to be alone. Humans have always survived in groups, but if the need becomes obsessive then perhaps it is time to step back.
Do I get obsessed?
Yep, sometimes I think I do.
Is there a solution?
I could sing Elsa’s theme song from Frozen here, but I don’t think it’s that easy, and I simply don’t have the magic to build myself a beautiful ice palace in the mountains where I can live out my days alone. And, for me, the pros of Instagram outweigh the cons, so, I think I’m going to have to settle for awareness. By that I mean, I am aware that I occasionally obsess over the numbers, and that I might need to start making a conscious effort to relax my internal response to them. My guess is that some days I’ll do a better job at relaxing than others, but for the sake of my emotional well being it’s worth the effort.
Do you obsess about numbers on social media? If so, have you found a way to manage it?