A New Digital Writer

The person I have chosen to write about is my sister, Elaina Strong, who is fairly new to the idea of “digital writer” as she has recently started a new public Instagram account under the name “minimalistwithkids” where she posts pictures of her minimalistic lifestyle with 3 children as well as a score of DIY crafts, chemical free products, eco friendly habits and gardening and nature hobbies. I thought she would be interesting to interview considering how she created this account about 3 weeks ago and has already seen an influx of followers from people who share her interests. It’s unique to see the difference between her usage of her private Instagram account and her new public one and how it has influenced her as a new digital writer.

I start by asking her what inspired her to create this new, minimalist account:

Elaina: “Honestly, I’m a stay at home mom. Everything I do is for my kids and I’m also a minimalist, I needed something for myself. I do a lot of DIY and crafts, I know a lot about de-cluttering and simplifying your life and I wanted to broadcast, not necessarily my ways, but show people how I live and how simplifying helps you live a happier life.”

So this simplistic lifestyle, this is the story and the message that you want this account to emphasize to your followers?

Elaina: “Yes, I actually, I have a lot of nature on my account. I take the kids on a lot of nature walks, I try to teach people that being outside is good for your health and your body and to also be very eco-friendly.”

Would you say that, compared to your private account, you take more time to plan these pictures or to choose what to post or what to say?

Elaina: “Absolutely, I do take more time to plan out what I’m going to post to write about it, some of the posts take a lot of thought and time, sometimes they, you know, are DIY, they’re crafting. I teach people how to make things like deodorant, and I’m actually coming up with a post on how to make a lice spray. I have children in preschool and elementary school and sometimes we get letters that lice has gone around, so I’ve made a lice repellant with essential oils.”

So, how do you think your use of hash tags has changed since you started this account and what kind of response have you experienced because of it?

Elaina: “I’ve become more detailed with my hash tags. I have to think of everything so that I get more views, I usually go a little crazy with the hash tags and if I use more hash tags I actually get a lot more people looking at my Instagram page.”

I took this time to notice that she has received comments on several of her pictures by Instagram users with similar public accounts, some of whom have thousands of followers. I asked Elaina how this kind of reaction effected her

Elaina: “A lot of them are moms, and I feel a huge support network. We’re all moms or we’re all minimalists or, you know, zero waste or eco friendly users so I feel a huge support.  I feel like I’ve got so many people backing me up and I’m backing up a lot of people and we all have bad days, you know, we try to build each other up. Bad days with the kids or bad days just in general or someone just forgot their coffee, we’re cheering people on so they can make it through the rest of their day.”

My last question for her was then: What would you do differently to relate this story through other mediums if you had chosen something other than Instagram, like an online blog or twitter of Facebook?

Elaina: “Yeah, I think I would have a blog, but I think a blog is a lot of work so that’s why I felt an Instagram was a little easier for me. I feel like, with a blog I would be sitting in front of the computer a lot and would be typing a lot and I wouldn’t have a lot of time. Instagram is a lot easier for me. I snap a picture and I type it up real quick and I use the hash tags and people see it a lot easier. Also moms are super busy, I personally don’t have a lot of time to read blogs, but I do have time to read a quick little Instagram paragraph.”

Here are some examples from her Instagram

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Expression Through Instagram

I decided to interview and profile my best friend Francheska Kola. She contributes to digital media through her Instagram profile. I have always enjoyed her Instagram and thought she would be an interesting person to profile since she isn’t the typical idea of a digital writer. She has been active on Instagram since 2012 and has posted 233 photos. Throughout the many years I’ve known her, I know how much effort she puts into her Instagram and I thought it would be interesting to ask her some questions about it.

What is the purpose of your Instagram? Do you think you are able to express yourself through your Instagram?

 Francheska: The purpose of my Instagram is to express myself in a way that I want people to see me. I think that I express myself in my best form, and that also might not be my truest form. Instagram is like an art portfolio where you show your best work. I obviously only post good pictures of myself because I want people to see me when I look good rather than when I look bad, and when I’m doing fun things rather than doing nothing. I think Instagram is a good way to highlight the good parts of your life and good experiences such as going on vacation and being with friends and family.

What goes into posting a photo? What is your process?

 Francheska: If it’s a scenery then I will usually take a few pictures and then edit it, make it clearer, change the coloring, and sometimes put on a filter. I’m not really that into filters. I’m more into adjusting the contrast, brightness, and sharpness. If it’s a picture of me with people, then usually that’s just a one take thing. Sometimes it is candid, sometimes it’s not. If it’s a picture of just me usually there’s a bigger process because I will take a few and then pick my favorite one, edit it, and post it. Over the years of being on Instagram, I realized that timing is important and depending on the time of day you will get more likes or fewer likes. I tend to post a picture later in the day around 9 pm or 10 pm which will get more likes than a picture posted at noon.

How do you choose which photos to post?

 Francheska: It depends on what the picture is. If it’s a picture of me, the angle is important. Specifically, for sceneries, I usually post them in landscape. The lighting is very important with all photos.

There are some unwritten rules pertaining to Instagram. What do you think of them and are you conscious of them?

 Francheska: I usually am conscious of them. I try to evenly spread out how many scenery or object photos I post versus how many pictures of myself that I post. Looking at my Instagram now, sometimes I don’t follow that rule, but I personally think your Instagram as a whole looks better if you break it up. I also don’t ever post two black and white photos in a row.

How much do you normally edit your photos? Why do you edit your photos?

 Francheska: Sometimes a picture will just come out really well and not need that much editing. With a picture that I want to get a lot of likes on and I want to be perfect, I like it to look a certain way. I feel like it all depends on the picture. If I think I look good in it, I won’t edit it that much. If I like the picture, but I don’t like the way I look in it, I’ll edit it and then post it. I also think it’s fun and I enjoy the process of editing pictures. I think I spend more time than the average person editing photos.

Do you think your Instagram does a good job representing who you are?

 Francheska: Over the years, I just post whatever I want and I don’t really care what other people think. I feel like it’s a good representation of random things that I do, how I look, and the friends that I have. It’s nice to have a platform where you can document interesting things, and then either you or other people can look back on it. I consider my Instagram a display of art that I have created through photography.

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media – Friend not Foe

As digital natives, it is in our nature to defend the digital world we live in. In contrast to Carr’s The Shallows, dana boyd takes our side and gives us detailed arguments for justifying and supporting something as prevalent as social media within her book It’s Complicated. Social media is not the end of humanity but simply a form of communicating and socializing. It is true for most teens including myself that social media channels can be simple outlets for expression. However, as the days go on, it is becoming increasingly evident that these different social media mediums/channels are the tools we may use to our advantage in order to fulfill a specific objective.

In Chapter 3 on Addiction, boyd talks about all the opportunities social media provides for all and how teens can gain the most knowledge from it. I heavily enjoyed all her points specifically on page 95 where she states that “…teens need to learn how to engage in crucial aspects of maturation: self-presentation, managing social relationships, and developing an understanding of the world around them.” We can do and gain so much more from social media outlets such as Instagram and Twitter instead of effortlessly posting the meal we ate that day. It is up to us to take control of our lives and realize how lucky we are that we can legitimately put ourselves out into the field of work we choose to work in by promoting ourselves online. Our presence/presentation of ourselves on social media can make or break future job prospects and it is up to us to know how to strategically maneuver ourselves around the online social presence.

Within the Look and Listen audio post, on The Anthropology of Social Media it is discussed how social media provides greater control in communication. Everything we post onto social media is purposeful. The audio post also touches upon the fact that we feel a pressure to have a social media presence. Similar to the high school student boyd interviewed, Amy, whom felt that technology was her way of connecting to a world expanding greater than the constraints of the walls within her house. Aside from our personal pressures and desires to have a social media presence, we must acknowledge that there is so much you can do with social media and the minor things where and when to post could actually be major in the long run. An easy example of social media being used for more than just a frivolous purpose is how we use it in our class. We have a class hashtag and with that we can attain and gather all sorts of information with any regards to our class. We must take control of our social situations and the platforms that are so easily at our fingertips.