Instamums: the new enemy of the masses. Oh, the joys of a Mumsnet forum. – I do try to stay away, but sometimes I find myself miraculously tripping, falling and catching myself in the scandals found in these online discussions. The most recent debate – I use the word debate loosely, as what could have been a debate transcended into grown adults bashing other adults – was surrounding the ‘Instamums’. If you had never heard of an ‘Instamum’ previously, join the club. When I first came a cross the discussion earlier this week, I assumed an Instamum was simply a mum sharing (perhaps oversharing) their life on Instagram, but as I went through the comments, Instamum took on a completely different meaning. It quickly went from one end of the spectrum to the other, from women documenting their life via the social sharing app, to shaming them as money grabbing business women exploiting children. I am not an ‘Instamum’, I am guilty of oversharing, and I have been paid for an image or two, but I don’t have the apparent lifestyle and or the pay packet to put me into that category (unfortunately). Despite this, some of the accusations and arguments spewed out still hit a nerve with me. If you’ve not came across the conversation before, in summary, Instamums were accused of exploiting their children for a quick buck, having an unrealistic lifestyle that can no longer be related to by ‘normal mums’ and falsely advertising without disclosure. If you want the full picture, feel free to read through 46 pages filled with jealousy and keyboard warriors.
Exploiting Children. I almost hate to entertain any of the points made, but this one hit a nerve as it is definitely something I have considered myself while sharing pictures of my own child. Exploiting is too strong a word, but where there is financial gain from sharing photos and or stories of children there will be uneasiness. Looking at this in black and white, sharing any pictures of children and being given an incentive to do so may be wrong, but whats often forgotten is that these are pictures that would be shared regardless of any incentive. These ‘instamums’ did not set out on Instagram to make money, or to gather a following, they set out for the community and to share there lives with similar people. I have lived my life through social since my early teens, whether that is a generation thing, or just down to the fact that social media is the norm now, I share a lot. Before having my son, I shared pictures of myself, but when my life changed, my social media posts did too. I am not an ‘insta-mum’, but I am a mum who uses instagram and who’s feed now revolves around her child and our life together. This is not for money nor for gratification – this is because my child is my life right now. A little sad, but it’s true. I’m not out for lovely dinners or nights on the town, when I go on holiday it’s my child I take pictures of, not myself, and thats what I share now. My baby is not old enough to tell me he does not want his picture taken, but if ever he does, then I will not take his picture, and that is the end of that. I can only imagine that these ‘insta-mums’ work on the same principle, they are capturing moments and that is that. In a paid post advertising a good old jar of Heinz baby food or a the latest Silver Cross pram, dinner does not change for that baby and neither does that walk to the park. It comes down to morals in declaring paid advertising and lines do turn hazy, I won’t speak for everyone here, but most people will only endorse products they would buy and recommend themselves. You will always have exceptions, but is it any different than every single advertisement you see on the television? I’m almost certain Cheryl Cole won’t be wearing L’Oreal Foundation at the Brits, David Beckham won’t be wearing H&M and Kendall Jenner isn’t only drinking Pepsi – social media is the way forward and if your looking to escape these unsolicited advertisements then I can assure you Instagram is not the place to be. Times are changing, get with it, or get off. You can moan about Instamums, but even if they miraculously dissappear, I’m sure another advertisement will pop up regardless, and one even less relevant than the Heinz jar you may actually be interested in.
What ever happened to being supportive?. Without harping on about sisterhood and with the fear of sounding self righteous, what ever happened to good old support for someone trying to better themselves? There is an unprecedented resentment of the success of these women, of the clean houses, the holiday’s taken and the money earned. There is jealousy. There is absolutely no credit given for any work that may go in to these curated feeds, the time spent or the chaos that goes on behind the beauty. What we see is what they choose for us to see, and that is no different than any celebrity, public figure or average joe. Who are we to assume that a life is perfect because of a picture of a brilliant white house and multiple holidays? I bring this up because a lot of the anger towards Instamums stems from the ‘Instamums’ versus ‘every day mums’ – and this is one of the main reasons I found myself reading through gritted teeth. What makes someone an everyday mum? Everyones everyday looks very different, and just because one person’s everyday contains a bright white house that is impeccably clean and yours does not, does not make them any less of an everyday mum. It makes them very good at cleaning, or very good at sharing the corner of their house that is very tidy. Absolutely no one displays every bad thing going on in their life and they shouldn’t have to, or be degraded for not doing so. And even if they do have a beautiful life, where everything is pristine, they have every baby gadget under the sun and spend their life on holiday, what real difference does it make to anyone else? There was so much frustration spewed at how much these women have in their lives directly from social media, and yet, it has no real effect on those irritated. Sure, I feckin wish I was able to have holidays abroad every few weeks and 10 silver cross prams at my disposal because of my Instagram pictures, but then again, I also wish I was born a Kardashian, or that I had the skill to become a doctor. But I can’t, I wasn’t and I don’t, so I dry my tears, get over myself and I move on with a less financially beneficial life. There is absolutely no need to bring someone else down because they have what you do not, we can support them, or ignore them, but whichever we choose we certainly shouldn’t let them have such an effect on our lives that we spend our Sunday night bitching about them online.
Just Unfollow. The first thing I thought as I read through bitter comment after bitter comment, was why not just unfollow? Many others obviously had the same thought and suggested this on the thread, and each time they were told that it was not quite that simple. It’s not a case of unfollowing, and ‘poof’ be gone. These Instamums they hate so much will still crop up in hashtags, or in suggested users, and it seems that even so much as a glimpse of one of their pictures as they scroll by is too much. I can’t understand it though, at one point, they followed these women because they liked them, they liked their values or just appreciated their feed, and they probably still would like the image. If those women have now sold out and no longer represent what they are looking for, then they can scroll on by. If you don’t like instamums, then you don’t like instamums. I personally don’t want to see what Donald Trump says but I can’t erase him from the world, therefore I scroll on by. I don’t vilify him on public forums because I have caught a glimpse of his last tweet. Not forgetting that these public forums are there for these women to read, Donald Trump may not give two tosses about what people think of him, but Katie, Sarah, or Amy from Instagram just might. These women have names, they are people and they are not simply just ‘insta-mums’, they are mums too, people too. It can be simple. If you do not like what you see, then stay off of social media. It is that easy. I’ll never understand people who welcome negativity into their lives, if certain individuals on Instagram bother you to this extent and you cannot escape them on Instagram, then move to Twitter, or stop complaining.
This Mumsnet thread was another opportunity for parents to judge other parents, to create categories and divide, and was no more justified than vilifying people for bottle feeding, or the way they choose to let their children sleep. Instamums are not exploiting their children, they are not intentionally deceiving anyone and those on the thread very much seem bitter about the opportunities others have. Social media is now a business. Sponsored posts and advertisements on Instagram do pay pills, if you do not like that and do not wish to endorse these posts or the instamums posting them, then no one is forcing you to.