Women and Kindness and Instagram / by Carolina Merino

photo credit: unsplash

photo credit: unsplash

Hey, hi. Is this thing on? 

Does anyone remember Christina Aguilera's 2002 Stripped album? No? Well, it's one of my favorite albums of all time. (Sidenote: If you want to learn more in-depth about that album has influenced pop today, you can do that here. It's a good read)

I was a young 23 years old when that album came out and when I tell you it was lit-uh-rally everything for months and months? That's no exaggeration. Anywho, there's a song on it called "Impossible" featuring my 20's bae Alicia Keys and on that song, the opening line is as follows:

Christina: "Play something for me Alicia...I just got something on my mind" Alicia: "Speak on it girl"

So every time I have something heavy on my heart, something I feel I really need to share, in my mind I picture Alicia telling me "Speak on it girl." And so that's what I'm gonna do

2017 was the year I decided I would take Instagram more seriously. If I'm being really real, I'll admit that the reason for this is that I wanted a place to showcase my ability to create content for and ability to manage this social platform. If you want to convince someone to pay you for that, you have to have something to point them to say "see? I can do it." I also wanted to increase my visibility as a local Dallas foodie in the hopes that maybe I could get a free meal or two. Lol because nah, that hasn't happened. 

For me, part of taking it more seriously meant fully showing up as myself via my photo captions and Instagram stories. And that's what I think I've done. But I have to admit, for someone like me who is inherently shy and a tad bit insecure, this process has been painful at times. Painful because showing up as your real self, feels extremely vulnerable. The internal monologue after sharing certain things or posting certain stories was "Will they think I'm stupid and annoying?" "Will they think I'm a 'try so hard'?" "Will they get that that's a joke and I just generally crack myself up but never take myself too seriously?" "Will they believe this is really me and not some online persona I'm trying to portray?" Even with all of that, I still clicked "post" and "add to story" because if I was going to do any of it, I was going to be the real me.

I also knew that taking it more seriously meant forging real actual relationships with people. I fully comprehend the role social media plays today in networking, relationship-building, and friendship-making and I decided if I was going to do the work of showing up, it would be primarily for this reason. 

I've had the distinct pleasure of talking to and forming real relationships with some kick-ass, amazing women this year. What a beautiful thing it is when women come together in support of one another. What a beautiful thing it is when you get a comment from one of these women that says "yes mama, slay!" and you know it's genuine. What a beautiful thing it is to now have real friendships because of it. For that reason alone, the time and energy spent on the platform have been completely worth it. 

But there's a flip side to that. My time spent there has also revealed an ugly side of women that I don't quite comprehend. I've personally never sought out to be an "influencer" in the way people know it to mean today. I've personally never called myself a "blogger" because sis, that label would be plain wrong. All I've ever really tried to do is share my love of food locally, share about other things I love/am passionate about, and share who I am as a person. And those are the things I value in others. I could care less if you think you're important because your follower count is something much larger than mine. I've also never been anything but kind and gracious and grateful towards anyone that has liked a picture, let alone engaged with me or started a conversation.

I'm legit dumbfounded by the ways I've seen women dismiss other women, ignore comments, act annoyed by a response to an Instagram story, or ignore it altogether. And it seems to me that there are certain women that are only interested in engaging with and continuing a conversation with someone that has a certain follower count or is perceived to be someone "important." It's like they're not interacting with people on this platform as actual people, but as social leverage and that's honestly so sad. 

If I sit next to you anywhere in real life and interact with you and you're rude or unkind, who the fuck cares what your follower count is or that you think you're "someone" online? Literally no one. I sure as hell don't. What I will always remember is how you suck as a person, and I, in no way want anything to do with you, let alone support your online pursuits. 

Oh, and this experience with women being this way extends outside of social media. I've personally, in real life experienced it this year and I just do not understand it at all. But that post will have to be for another day.

Trust me, I know. I get it. Social media is the highlight reel. It's curated. It's absolutely not real life.  But the ways we interact with each other there shouldn't be. Those should be genuine.

People will always remember how you responded to them, interacted with them, or dismissed them on social. We keep mental notes, trust. And in the end, is it really worth it?

The whole point of all this drivel is that It takes zero effort to be kind. Exactly zero. But I promise you it's the one thing that will bring your life the most ROI. The most genuine connection. The most joy. Always. 

And there is no ROI more valuable than that.