Why did I get on Instagram?

Update, late 2020: Sike! I no longer am active on any social platform. Still keeping this post up though.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with traditional social media, but without the love. Probably something to do with the fact that I hate pretentiousness, selfishness, mediocrity (in others lol).

I don’t use Facebook (or Messenger) to this day, and my account largely exists because of those once-in-a-while times I need to reach out to someone who’s not on my WhatsApp contacts list.

I think LinkedIn is just slightly less depressing than Facebook, but still reeks of desperation and pointlessness.

Snapchat, when it was a thing, really scared me. So did Instagram, and Twitter, for the longest time. I think I was afraid of the “culture of creation” that I perceived on these platforms…you know, the constant grind to search for that perfect angle or come up with that punny caption or be at that oh-so-popular gig in town. My life is not that interesting, and I am not that creative, at least in the way that these platforms tend to reward.

So I just never felt the need to use social, and being the stubborn purist that I am, I just became the guy that wasn’t on Facebook, or Instagram, or Snapchat. Quirky and notable, but my friends just kinda got used to it and that was that.

That all changed in 2016, when rtCamp hired me into their enterprise sales team, with additional responsibilities marketing the company and its products. I just had to get on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

I still hated the first two with a burning passion, but Twitter? Twitter was different. I “got” Twitter. I started posting, using it to connect with people, to promote myself.

It took a while, but I got over the fear of the “content grind”. I realized that I can be myself, and that was enough. Actually, I realized that the more honest I was with myself and with my “audience” (for lack of a better word), the easier it became to leverage the reach of the platform to do good.

When WhatsApp ripped off Stories from Snapchat, I dived right in, and I loved it. I used to post stories all the time. It was a great tool, and I used WhatsApp stories right up until I left for Manila (where my phone got stolen, and I lost access to my WhatsApp account, and thus all my “followers”. Life is hard 🤷🏻‍♂️)

Anyway, back on Twitter, I started noticing that my posts were getting more and more conservative. This wasn’t entirely because I was taking myself too seriously; it was also a side effect of my Twitter account being my primary social channel to both my personal(👍🏼) and professional(👎🏼) circles.

So, at this point, I took the most logical step I could, and made an alt.

My Joel Altreo (huehuehue) alt account was a success. I was as random, as expressive, as creative as I wanted to be. I experimented with different formats and found a groove where I was getting the most out of the platform.

One of these formats what the tweet-with-photo-attached. I quite like this format, because I’m a visual thinker (and thus a visual communicator) and love to take photographs.

I would often post pictures of people, experiences, things, and hitting the “Tweet” button would feel great, but the follow-up would often let me down. You see, nobody is on Twitter. That’s a scientific fact.

So even though I was expressing myself, I would see my friends sharing on Instagram (see where this is going?) and creating so much of “social context” without me. Worst, I couldn’t share my social context with them because I could just never get myself to start posting WhatsApp stories after my phone got stolen.

Finally, since I have the blessing of knowing & caring about a lot of people across different social circles and cities/countries and I had long been craving for a way to keep up with developments in their lives.

That’s three social voids, for those keeping count.

December 2019. It’s Advent, and I’m praying to God to give me direction in my life. It was a hopeless time, full of (self-inflicted) pressure to do well in my upcoming entrance exams.

I’m searching (also, procrastinating) for something that will help me grow in the things that I want to do (viz., be more socially available to the people I care about, and express myself).

A couple of friends suggest I try Instagram (thanks, Krys, Desai!). So I downloaded it. And it felt great.