At the start of the year, I resurrected my old Instagram account from yonks ago, after a three years hiatus (during which I really looked down upon and curled my nose up at the idea of Instagram itself).
I’d say I’ve come full circle. And with good reason — the stuff I’ve saved for my written journal hahaha. I was spurred by the sense of having turning yet another corner, enjoying this new feeling of wholeness and being present in my being in this point in time, palpably shedding the need to hide parts of myself that I have so far, and wanting to just separate my work and life/word sharing a bit.
And so I’m back. But I wanted it to be new. So I archived the entirety of my old feed, and what an exercise it was. Scrolling back over 2k pictures, all the way back to 2012, when I first got on the platform.
It was like turning the pages of a life of an entirely different person. Fascinating and wonderous, the things I have done, the thoughts I have had, the stuff I have shared. It brought back vivid memories of events and experiences, many that are slowly receding and could have done with a jog back of this kind.
There were so many good memories! So many, many good times. Because let’s face it, I only shared the good times hahahaha.
In the past I found all the lightheartedness and play that I have longed for in the last few years of my life. And I felt a kindred spirit for the person I am today, once again sparking this facet of myself.
But it was painful seeing many of the pictures because it brought back equally vivid memories of experiences, events, holidays, meals, and so much more, shared with people no longer in my life. It felt like brief frames with a limited shelf life, snapshots of a time when I was blissfully unaware of who I was and who these poeople would eventually be to me. I truly believed — and this was so apparent in my words — that they were my people. It hurt to once again recollect how wrong I was. And how easily and badly I wanted to believe that.
I took some really really shit pictures. Both in terms of the complete lack of aesthetics, but also in terms of what was being photographed. AND WHY???
For many years in the beginning, I took some really shit pictures. Aesthetically terrible, but also shit in terms of content. Pictures that really needed no sharing. Pictures that possibly didn’t ever need to be taken. Reams of pictures that I looked at and went “why?”
Later, especially in the last two years before I quit, when I started to really get into the aesthetic of picture taking/memory making itself, I took some really good pictures. Content-wise, still questionable, but at least they were beautiful pictures to see.
I consistently and continually wrote some seeeriously dorky captions. I probably thought I was really funny (and maybe some of it was, at the time), but from where I am today, I had an ache in my heart thinking of the person I was. There was a serious amount of posturing, and trying hard to be the person I was on Instagram I think what began as an accidental projection, continued into a moulding a convenient facade, and an active effort to maintain that image. Cool, casual, non-chalant. No matter that the reality of my life, especially the last 2-3 years before I left, was rife with upheaval that was far from cool, casual and non-chalant.
I felt a bit gob-smacked to see this in myself. It is something I was oblivious to back then, and have only known in varying degrees over the last three years since quitting Instagram. Yet, nothing made it hit home like revisiting my feed did.
That hurt. It’s an odd feeling, this. Hurting for an old version of yourself. In a way, there is so much distance and movement ahead, it feels like a faraway ghost of myself that I actually can’t relate to anymore. There is disbelief. But there is also an inherant connection, and almost a longing to quickly go back in time and soothe myself. The knowing of all that was going on in my life then is alive. And there is familiarity mixed up even in the distance and the disonance that the passage of time creates.
I also massively, and I mean massively, culled my follow and follower list. So, some other observations and thoughts I had along the way:
Those who were voyeurs then, are voyeurs even now haha. I am personally very bored with that kind of Instagram that I was into back then. Looking at the lives of people. I have gradually growing bored in that format over the years, especially peeking into the lives of strangers who remain figments pieced together from a collection of pixels and our perceptions, but it has probably peaked and turned into an abject disinterest. There are a couple of people I follow in this category now because theyre seriously compelling in some way or the other. But just following someone for pictures of their cute baby, their furniture and decor ideas, their daily lunch plate — you get the drift — it is so, so boring.
I revisiting the old follow list I had, and my god there were SO MANY in this category. And it was interesting to see how many people I saw still into it.
I did some entirely unnecesary photo challenges like that godawful “FMSdaily prompt challenge”. UFFF, why why whyyy did we do those things, and why did nobody tell us how awful our pictures were? I posted one too many terrible pictures in the effort to finish those daily challenges.
I followed some seriously problematic people. Seeeriously problematic. I guess it’s a sign of what I have learned, and how I have grown/changed in the years since. My politics and my sense of the ideas that shape my world are definitely very different, than they were back then. It made me slightly uncomfortable to see some familiar names following people I wouldn’t dream of following now. I had to bite back and reflect on my judgement here.
Some people that I followed for their cute baby, now have two. Some distant acquaintances who were single are now married and have babies. Why is everyone having babies, what’s going on, what happened in this pandemic year?
My ideas of so many things are just so different now. Fitness, food, art, aesthetics. The handles I followed then based on my interest in these things are so different form the handles I follow now. I have next to no food on my feed today, I have some fitness, but it’s of a very different kind from the handles I followed back then. There is a lot of art, comics, and illustrators, but again of a very different style and content. It was fun to see what has changed, and how much.
I obsessed over every little thing I cooked, believing it was an accomplishment. If people told me back then how stupid it was, or how unnecessary, contrived and self-obsessed it was, I wouldn’t have taken it well. I should have stuck to my food blog, where I did a half decent job of documenting the food I enjoyed and cooked. There was absolutely no need to put a really bad pictrue of every little thing I ate or cooked on my Instagram. UGH. Terrible self-obsession. I thought everything I cooked was gorgeous enough to be photographed, which is seriously a joke.
I believed I was very self-aware and honest on my social media. And maybe I was, to a large degree. But looking back, and through my feed three years on, I saw so much lies. So much conspicuous posturing of the kind I loathed seeing in others.
If there is one thing I know for sure (and I try and not articulate too many conclusive, sweeping statements of this kind these days) it is this: I am ordinary. I am small. I am not special. Just like every one else.
So it was such a cringe fest seeing some of the posts, especially those on days that were truly miserable, or when something really forgettable happened, but I chose to post something entirely different to distract from it and to lure myself into the belief that there was something inherently special about me and my life.
What a ride.
Two years ago: Solo Saturday night
Three years ago: Obscured by clouds (Coonoor, 2017)
Four years ago: Inconsequential posts you really don’t need to read
Five years ago: R&R