With almost , it's safe to say Katherine Ormerod is a successful Instagram influencer.
Yet earlier this year, some were surprised to find the mother-of-one was releasing a book titled, ‘’. Whilst her thriving social media business gave her purpose, cash and a creative outlet, it also had a dark side - chasing likes left the mother-of-one feeling ‘unpopular, lonely, anxious, .’
On some days, each new follower became another bar on the cage of her online persona, one that meant she could only portray herself in a very particular and flattering light.
This constant pressure no doubt sounds familiar to many of us. It's getting more and more difficult to ignore Instagram's detrimental effects. We know it's making us , but we still haven't stopped scrolling.
Yet Ormerod, who is speaking at later this month, has enjoyed the highs and lows of social - and come out the other side. Her book is now an Amazon bestseller, with an encouraging social media users to tell the real story behind a seemingly ‘perfect’ Insta post. One year later and readers are less flummoxed by the former editor’s choice of book title - we feel it, too, and we want out.
So, who better to help us wade through the muddy waters of the great Insta-sham? This is the advice she gave us.
Katherine Ormerod will be speaking at LouisvuittonShop Weekender alongside The Frugality, Niomi Smart and Tobiu Oredein. Get your tickets .
Being honest with yourself about any of your habits is a challenge, but getting real about your social media is particularly tough - especially if it's part of your social and work life.
However, doing so is an important first step in getting control, and changing for the better.
Ormerod suggested asking yourself these questions:
- Have you ever felt that you wish you spent less time on social media, tried to curb it but not been able to, or curbed it for a little while and then gone straight back to it?
- Do you check your social media somewhere you're not supposed to i.e. whilst driving, at work or during quality time with your partner, children or friends?
- Does spending time on an app like Instagram leave you feeling worse about yourself?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these, ‘you can be pretty sure you’re not in a great relationship with it,' explains Ormerod.
Denial is what's making you powerless here, so you need to understand exactly how social media works to regain your power.
On the surface, explains Ormerod, it appears that social media platforms ‘trade in entertainment’, however the real product is us.
'Our eyeballs, our time, our attention, that is their commodity, that is what they make these billions and billions of profit off,' she says. 'Every single update, every single new novelty - from stories through to archive- is designed specifically to increase our time and attention to be spent on these devices.’
But it's not all doom and gloom. Once you understand there’s an element of exploitation here - that you're being used - you're more attuned to it.
Whilst we’re all guilty of taking 20 selfies and picking the best one, there needs to be a line.
'If you find that you actually can’t recognise this person that you’re putting on social media, you have to wonder: why are you doing that to yourself?’ says Ormerod.
By heavily editing, be it literally through FaceTune or Photoshop, or figuratively through picking and choosing, think about what message are you sending others and yourself.
Ormerod’s rallying cry? ‘If we want to chip away at the pressure of perfection, there’s a responsibility of each and every one of us to be involved in that.’
Whilst there’s a definite argument for unfollowing (or muting) those accounts that are detrimental to your mood or self-esteem, Ormerod can’t help but feel it's not only a ‘negative way of looking at it’, but also, ‘only half the puzzle.’
A harder and more fulfilling quest? Seeking out those accounts that make you feel good. ‘It’s as important to curate what you’re seeing as much as what you put out there,' she says.
Ormerod herself went on this mission, to startling results. After realising she followed a lot of women who were just like her, she ‘made a conscious effort to try and round out the world I was consuming through my phone.' Now she actively follows women of all shapes all sizes, and it's made a huge difference to how she goes about the rest of her life.
Ormerod points out that, despite Instagram feeling like a different world, it’s really just an extension of our own.
This means you need to try and act just as considerately and kindly as you would in your day-to-day life.
‘If one of your friends is made redundant this week, and you get a career promotion, what harm is it going to be to wait a few days to put it up?' she asks. 'What harm would it be to reach out to her and sees how she’s doing first? Maybe tell her in real life before she has to see it on social media and rubbed in her face.’
‘It’s not revolutionary advice, but its really easy to forget that ...it will be coming into their homes, directly as they wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. I’m not saying don't be proud of your achievements and don’t share the good moments, that’s great, but just think about the way you’re doing it, just as you would IRL.’
Breaking down ideals of perfection and sharing honestly with your followers are all good things. But while Ormerod is all for the positive impacts social media has had on mental health, she thinks there’s a way to do it.
‘What’s the intention behind it? Is it just to get attention? Or are you considering the power of your words and the power of your images to make a positive impact on someone else’s life? That has to be key to it.’
Sharing personal information is fine, but she warns about content that will make people worry about you, be it friends and family, or even those in your work sphere. ‘[Social media] is your resume online... You have to imagine a recruiter is reading everything that you write on the internet. That's the truth.’
Her top tip? Add humour, self-deprecation and be sure to end on a positive note.