Filters and Followers
Disclaimer: This post was written angrily but not hastily. It is, however, a rant of sorts.
I was minding my own business...
Sorta kinda being productive.
I wrote and shipped love notes to my international readers,
helped an athlete improve her standing long jump,
Did 2.5 hours of yoga,
And...replenished my stock of “Thank You” cards.
I had one more stop to make.
I was feeling absolutely incredible about my day,
When I decided to run into Sally’s Beauty Supply to restock my collection of hair products
(natural hair is high maintenance let no one tell you different).
I open the front door when...
I’m greeted by two employees and a customer.
It was the customer that captured my attention.
There were words on her T-shirt, screen-printed in a sprawling font.
And when my brain registered what I had read
The words “are you f***ing kidding me?”
Left my lips before I could stop myself.
Her shirt said:
“Don’t follow your dreams...follow me on Instagram.”
A couple days ago someone showed me an Instagram video of a pretty girl.
She was sitting down legs outstretched speaking directly to the camera.
She wanted us to know about a book she has coming out
One in which she gives the names of the eleven pro athletes she’s slept with, most of them without condoms.
The comments are largely supportive
From her ONE MILLION PLUS followers
I remember thinking...
I remember feeling
Although just for a moment...
And I couldn’t help but wonder why we follow who we follow.
Shit’s been hitting the fan here in America in the political arena.
Your sense of pending doom largely depends on who you follow.
I know someone who only watches MSNBC
Someone else who only watches CNN
And another who only watches Fox News
The same story...
Like ordering the quail at a Jamie Oliver restaurant.
Which brings me back to Instagram.
I introduced you to Anna in the post titled “Full Circle”
(She’s doing well by the way)
Originally, I had had a difficult time articulating the nature of perspective in one of our frequent convos when it hit me.
Instagram is the perfect example.
Let’s say you have a picture you want to post to the ‘Gram
You open the app, hit the plus sign, and select your picture.
The next screen prompts you to choose a filter...
Those filters are like perspective.
The photo is STILL the same photo but depending on which filter you select it LOOKS different.
It’s not different.
And as the follower you see the picture, sure.
But only through the filter selected by the person who posted it.
You aren’t provided the opportunity to see the original and compare it to the Lo-Fi Filtered version.
You’ll never know how the original compares to the one you actually get to see...
I told Anna…
There’s US: our true selves…akin to the original version of a photo (to continue this metaphor)
A “Things that have happened to us” filter…
A “Things we’ve already done” filter…
We love to overlay our present interactions and experiences with those filters
Obscuring the “original picture” of our true selves and subsequently ignoring how we would or could react if we weren’t looking at the situation through filters at all.
Today Anna was describing how she was feeling...and she ended her description by saying...
But I know it’s just a filter.
And I was so proud of her because too many of us, too often stop following our dreams...
We are following someone else’s on instagram (or anywhere else really)
Our dreams and the individualized journey its pursuit requires looks different from the lives of those we follow…it has to.
But we allow the poison of comparison to leach into our systems like a saline IV drip…slowly but surely saturating us from the inside out and changing our composition.
I’m not a Instagram model
Not famous or popular enough to have anywhere near a million followers
Do I give up writing because there aren’t a million people dying to read MY book?
Do I stop posting because my content doesn’t go viral like hers does?
Do I stop sharing my experiences because it doesn't get picked up by websites and reported as news?
I’ll be honest.
Sometimes…I have to go and unfollow
Track and Field athlete
On my timeline
Because I too sometimes get caught in a cycle of comparison.
Comparing my journey to theirs and becoming disappointed about my own.
When I’m following all of these athletes
I forget that the earth isn’t flat.
I forget that track and field isn’t the entire universe.
I forget that I enjoy other things
That I’m good at other things
That there are
And I suffocate in the small box I’ve created for myself.
Where am I going with all this?
In a nutshell…we need to stop curating our lives. Who we follow, who we listen to…often influences our perspective and that can become an additional filter through which we view the world.
And sometimes it’s hard to know if we've absorbed someone else’s dreams, and someone else’s world view for ourselves because it’s all we see.
The only thing you ever need to follow wholeheartedly...
is your heart.
Look for role models and inspiration anywhere and everywhere, not just where you think it should be.
And let your dreams and the pursuit of them be the compass that urges you forward.
And see your life, without filters. See it exactly as it is. Good or bad, it's yours and it's real.
I’d rather you follow your dream
than follow me on Instagram.