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24th September 2019

Oh Instagram – you’re my favourite waste of time

Social media is addictive, and can be toxic, but is also an accessible platform for artists to share their work – writer Aisha Al-Janabi shares a few of her favourites
Oh Instagram – you’re my favourite waste of time
Self Deprecation Police photo courtesy of @thumbpaint from Instagram

Facebook was started in 2004, and Instagram in 2010, meaning that social media has been present for the more memorable part of my life.

The way we waste time, or fill time, has changed along with technology. Back in the ‘good old days’ picking up a book or doing embroidery for hours were casual pastimes – now they’re often seen as more beneficial than other hobbies. Then TV and films became more accessible and spending evenings watching TV shows was how many would spend their down-time. These days, social media is many people’s favourite way to whittle away their free hours.

I agree and admit that social media can be toxic, but I don’t mind the time-wasting nature of it. I find current expectations to constantly be busy and productive exhausting and I enjoy a guilt-free scroll through my tailored newsfeed of adorable guinea pigs like @fuzzberta, which makes me effortlessly happier.

Social media platforms are designed to be addictive, with the validation of likes on recent posts and the ability to scroll endlessly ensuring that we keep coming back. I can’t see myself giving it up any time soon, partly because I like seeing what my friends are up to whilst we’re on opposite ends of the country, but also because I am hooked, especially to Instagram.

The visual nature of Instagram means it has become a platform for independent artists to share their work, so it’s accessible for both creators and audiences. My newsfeed has slowly become a personal art gallery that I carry around in my pocket, developing and changing as I do, and is a joyful break from reality when I need it.

Whilst social media can fuel the feeling of inadequacy and our insecurities, I’ve begun to follow accounts with feel-good content of vibrant illustrations and messages.

I follow @littlearthling with illustrations and gentle reminders like “it is okay to be proud of yourself”, that will make you feel less isolated. And @janellesilver, whose art comforts me when I’m feeling insecure or anxious, validating my own feelings and letting me acknowledge them. Or @doot_doodles with humorous and calming illustrations that will put a smile on my face.

Then there is the world of cartoonists, those who create little stories that are a great distraction from this big fast-paced world we live in. One that warms my heart is called @thumbpaint which follows little thumb-painted characters on small and endearing adventures.

Instagram can be used as a little sanctuary full of beautiful images, some of which also act as a gentle reminder for me when things don’t feel quite right. I’m sure we’ve all experienced anxious periods and overthink certain things, so sometimes it is lovely to ‘waste’ time (I’m not suggesting you spend hours on social media) and scroll through your own gallery, with messages you want to hear.

Social media is probably going to stick around, so we may as well support artists instead of accounts that make us feel inadequate and disheartened, and in the process create a place that can temporarily cheer us up with a quick scroll whilst waiting for a bus.

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