to be social on social media

Let me start by saying that I know I am crazy, ok. I preface that all the time whenever I tell people that my dog has an Instagram account. I am one of those people. I had good reasons for doing it though, I have a ridiculously cute dog (google Cavalier King Charles and try not to go and get one), I like to take pictures of that dog, and I didn't want to alienate my friends that I hold on Instagram. So I started an account specifically for her.

It was slow at first, I think my pictures weren't really telling a story, or that good in quality, but slowly and surely it started to gain momentum. I'm nowhere near the "most famous Insta-Dogs" but it's enough for me. I had goals for her account, and I know that insatiable desire to get to the next milestone. When she hit 300, I wanted 500 followers. When there were 800, I wanted 1000.

One day a picture got 100 likes, and then  I started to think that every picture had to get 100 likes. I know, as mentioned, I am crazy. And then one day I wondered if I thought my dog was actually cute of if I needed the validation of others in order to believe she was. Some of my favourite pictures of her have the fewest likes. It's when she looks a little scraggly, or when she had spindly legs stretched out that make me laugh and truly show her quirky personality. I think she is cutest when she isn't the picture of perfection. I started to post pictures that I liked of her, instead of the ones that I knew would get likes.

Shortly after, there was a moment when I realized, this is social media. And I started responding to more of the comments, and writing more comments, and truly befriending the other crazies that have dog accounts. I did some sleuthing and discovered that there was a fellow Cav owner in my community so we met up to go for some walks. Her tricolour Cavalier is beautiful and hilarious when she is around my dog, she pretends to be aloof and refuses to interact with my dog, we will wear her down eventually.

My dog got sick one day and I sent a message to fellow Cav owners to see what their suggestions were. Thankfully the illness passed quickly, but the support and advice that the people shared was encouraging and intelligent. I forgot to send word that she was better and a few checked in on her to see how she was doing. It was really sweet, like a parent support group... for people who are mildly obsessed with their dogs.

I have honestly become attached to these animals. One woman lost her beloved ruby Cavalier very suddenly and way to soon. My husband came home from work to see me crying on the couch. I had to explain that a dog I had never met, but had grown to love, had passed away. And on my birthday I found out that one of our favourite duos' photographer/mom/PR person shared my birthday. It made the special affinity that much more special.

I am writing this because, since it's all over everywhere - there is no doubt that you are aware of it, some young woman who is Instafamous has suddenly done the unthinkable, she is revealing that all of her photos are staged (whaaa? I don't believe it*), that she was paid to wear bathing suits (I am shocked you would mislead your followers*) (*sarcasm) and she is tearing it all down as a lie. But she has decided to use it for a purpose now, it has become her soap box for her values and beliefs, and kudos to her. But, she hasn't yet learned that it is social media. She needs to be social. Before she ripped off the band aid, she followed 10 people, and after tearing off the lies, she still only follows 10 people. I understand that with her kind of fame the people she follows might become inundated with followers, but the purpose is to be social. That's the intention, not to be famous, but to be social.

It is interesting to watch a teenager come of age and realize that Instafame is overrated and leaves you feeling empty. The statistics are there, the research shows that the more selfies you take, the more narcissistic and depressed you become. So to a void that I take pictures of my dog. I had to take my computer in to get repairs and in order to replicate the crashing I had to open my photos, I was embarrassed by the number of pictures of my dog in my photo album. I blushed and said to the repair tech, "I really like my dog", and then I thought and said, "you must see a lot of weird stuff on peoples' computers", he just nodded. I didn't feel so bad after that.

I know I'm crazy, and I know that I probably spend too much time taking pictures of my dog, but I am aware of it, and I am truly working at getting to know the people behind the lens. I can see it for what it is: narcissism (my dog is really quite adorable), and self-promotion, but it also has the ability to connect you to people you would otherwise never had met and gone for a walk with, or cried with a person across the country for her loss, or found out that some stranger that likes a lot of the same things as you shares your birthday. And those are just the highlights. If you make it a community, it will be a community. Be social on social media.

That's all.


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