Why it’s Okay to Unfollow

I was flicking through my Instagram feed the other day.  It’s a strange mix.  There are the sporadic posts from friends and family (including my Dad; whose Instagram theme includes scribbling lines over Google Maps to show the world where he’s been walking), random pet accounts (cute!), mixed in with some online friends, beautiful bloggers and bakers – y’know for a bit of daily inspo.  (Oh.  And unavoidable adverts.  Ugh.)  I scrolled down – liking, saving, commenting – and then, I got stuck.

Wait.  Who the hell’s that?  Oh.  The account of a friend of a friend who followed me and I – politely – followed back.  Another grainy gram of a night out with some friends I didn’t know in a bar I didn’t recognise.  Why was I still following him?  Enough was enough. I clicked through to his profile page and my thumb hovered over the The Blue Button of Doom… but then something stopped me.

I felt guilty. Guilty about unfollowing. After all, they were still following me. So wouldn’t it be rude to cut and run? A prime example of poor netiquette? A sort of virtual dine and dash? I mean, by pressing that button you’re basically sending the message to that person, “I’m not interested in you anymore. Buh-bye!” Never mind the fact that they might be a virtual stranger or that you’ve never spoken beyond a couple of comments with emojis, it feels cold and cruel to hit that button. All of us have been on the other side of this at some point, so we can relate; we know how it feels when someone blue buttons us. It stings a little, and you’re left wondering what tweet, which instagram or snapchat was it that finally pushed them out the door.

Think about it. How many people are you following on various social media platforms that you’d quite like to ditch but don’t because you feel guilty? Those polite follow-backs, friend of a friends, old school friends you haven’t spoken to in a hundred years. How many tweets and Instagrams do you eyeroll your way through every single day just to scroll to the people you actually care about, to the content that makes a difference to your day?

Social media has become such a massive part of our every day lives. Scrolling Instagram is the first thing I do in the morning (or at least it used to be pre-puppy!) and the last thing I do at night, and like it or not, those internet relationships we forge through social media are becoming just as important and as valuable as our “real life” ones. They matter. So why are we hanging on to the ones that don’t – the ones that don’t excite, inspire or interest us – just because we feel bad for unfollowing? Would we waste our time like that offline?

I hope this isn’t coming across as bitchy or cold, it’s meant to be the exact opposite. I’d rather have a feed that’s full of mutual, meaningful relationships and content that I value and feel inspired by, than one clogged up with names I don’t recognise and content I don’t care about.  Wouldn’t you?  And it goes the other way too; don’t keep me on your feed and in your life because you feel like you have to, keep me there because you want to.

We need to shed the guilt about unfollowing someone, just as we need to learn to either ignore or live with that sting we feel when someone unfollows us.  It might feel personal, but it’s not.  Not really.  The relationship never got personal.  They didn’t get you, and that’s okay.  Hitting that blue button from time to time (and being blue-buttoned) is a necessary part of finding your tribe. 🙂

Instagram Stories: Tips and Tricks

I swore never to become one of those people.  You know, the people who take Instagram seriously. The ones who shudder at the thought of posting a ‘gram that hasn’t had the VSCO nip/tuck treatment first (hell no!), or a snap that just doesn’t fit in with their *groans* “theme”. Pfft. Well whaddya know?  1 year later and I’ve gone over to the dark side. Somehow, I just got sucked in.  Long gone are the days of posting a spontaneous snap of my builder’s brunch with a bit of Valencia filter to bring out the baked beans slurping over the side of the plate. But it’s no secret that Instagram can be tough and disheartening at times. If it’s not the algorithm killing my buzz then it’s those big accounts playing the follow/unfollow game, and now there’s something called shadow blocking – where Instagram itself (the nerve!) selectively blocks use who use too many hashtags without them even knowing it. It’s true to say that I fall out of love with Instagram every day for some reason or another.

Then, Instagram Stories came along and I finally had a place for all those sloppy, spur of the moment snaps.  It’s brought the spontaneity back to Instagram – the no pressure, no filter fun – and it’s the perfect place for those raw snippets of daily life.  Through them I’ve fallen back in love with Instagram.  Like kids and bedtime stories, I tend to flick through them before I go to sleep – just to see what everyone’s been up to in “real life”; where they went, what they ate, what they made, what they wore, what their dog (or cat!) did.

It’s within the last month that I’ve really started having fun with it. I micro-vlog on days out or when I’m cooking (or need to rant about my dog ripping up his puppy pads) and I love playing around with the features. It’s tipped to be the next big thing in social media marketing and blogging over the next year, with more and more users getting involved.  So if you’re just starting out with Instagram Stories or you’re looking for a few tips and tricks to up your game and make things a little more interesting, look no further!

You don’t have to use Instagram to create your stories.  Handy tip numero uno; you don’t have to just use the app to take pictures or videos. With one downward swipe you can actually pull in recent videos and pictures you created using other apps like Snapchat.  By doing this, you’re not confined to using only the features Instagram Stories has to offer.  I’ve used my camera app to film videos and then sped them up or slowed them down (cool  little trick for making driving and road trip stories more interesting).  I’ve also used VSCO for other filters and Snapchat for selfies.  Remember though, you’re limited to using videos created within the past 24 hours (again, you can get around that by resaving or editing the photo/video).

Sick of being cut off after 15 seconds?  If you’re fed up of spilling your heart out to the world and having it annoyingly cut you off every 15 seconds, try this.  Record in your camera app and then snip the video into 15 second segments.  Upload them into Instagram Stories in order, and voila!  Each video should seamlessly run through into the next one.  No mid sentence shut downs! 🙂

Text. Unless you use another photo editing app, there’s only one font to choose from in Instagram Stories itself. You can change the colour of the font using the paint pots at the bottom of the screen, or, if you press the “A” button at the top of the screen you can add a background colour to the text to make it easier to read. Move your text around the screen, resize it using your fingers, or using the slider on the left. Hold down words or letters to change their individual colour.

Pens. Using pens is a fun way of doodling or handwriting on your videos. I’ve got a pen with a stylus on one end which makes handwriting and drawing on my phone screen a bit easier and fits easily in my bag. There are LOADS of colours to choose from; either hold your finger down on a colour pot to tweak, or swipe left for more. If you want to colour-block your screen, or give your selfie a colourful haze then select the marker and a colour then hold your finger down on the screen.

▲ Stickers. Stickers are great for adding a little something-something and are constantly being switched and updated. Click the smiley sticker in the upper right hand corner and you can access location, time and temperature tags, emojis, photo booth props and stickers related to the day of the week. 🙂

Stamp your location for a better chance of being discovered by others.  A more recent update to stories is the ability to watch “City Stories”, a collection of stories from users in one area (you can search for these stories using the search by location function).  If you stamp a location to your story (even if you make it really, really small!) it has a higher chance of being added to the collective story for your home town or city/place you’re currently visiting – meaning higher views and – you never know! – followers.  If that’s what your end goal is, of course…

Face Filters.  Another recent feature is the ability to play around with facial filters (sounds familiar… *ahem* Snapchat *ahem*).  Press the little face next to the camera button at the bottom of the screen and change up your usual selfie for something different.

Get social, or not! Mention or tag other users in your stories by using the text feature and typing “@” followed by the person’s user name. Restrict who sees your story by pressing the little star in the upper left hand corner.

What do you love/hate about Instagram and Stories?

2015 through Instagram

  

(Oh no not another one of those ‘Year in Review’ posts…) Once the last of the turkey has been carved up and slapped into stuffing and cranberry sandwiches (oh yes…) it’s inevitable that all focus turns towards the New Year and the one just gone. This time last year I wasn’t particularly enthused about 2015. After two difficult years I couldn’t see how the next year would be any different, but 2015 blew all others out of the water and turned out to be a defining year. 🙂
Continue reading “2015 through Instagram”

Paris through Instagram

Amidst all the heartache and horror of Friday the 13th, I couldn’t help thinking back to our little trip there during the hazy, dog days of August. I swore to Sunny that I wouldn’t stomp and storm from monument to museum as I usually do, that instead we’d stroll and sit and savour the last few days of summer. And that’s exactly what we did! We left the camera, the map and the guide in our hotel room and snapped the little Parisian moments using Instagram.

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
The beautiful sandy columns of the Palais Royal.

 

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
We stayed in the Maxim Folies boutique hotel in the 9th. Tucked down a quiet street with a Velib bike rack right outside and a few steps from some lovely bars and restaurants.

 

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
Lounging in the shade in the Tuileries.

 

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
Hey sister, soul sister… better get that dough, sister!

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
L’Artisan Burger, mingled amongst the shops and restaurants of Les Halles, was a stumbled upon surprise 🙂 (…Those chips were lush!)

 

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
We limited ourselves to *one* museum/gallery and decided that it had to be the Louvre. We did our homework though and dodged the queues by entering through the Porte de Lyon, and scrubbed Jaconde (The Mona Lisa) off the list first. We didn’t see everything, but in 5 hours made a pretty decent dent.

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
The original selfie…

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
For breakfast one morning we climbed to the roof terrace of Printemps department store for a beautiful (and free!) view of Paris.

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
My favourite!

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram  thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
We stumbled upon L’Éclair de Génie on Boulevard Haussmann and *had* to try one. We picked a raspberry and lemon one and stupidly decided to try and eat it while walking. The first bite oozed raspberry sauce all down my arm (did you know it’s impossible to lick your elbow?) and caused a terrible mess… but, non, je ne regrette rien!

 

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
Croissant Cat taking an afternoon snooze halfway up La Grande Butte.

 

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
We finished our last evening by taking a baguette boat at sunset from the Pont Neuf. We rented a velib bike each and cycled from the hotel, through Les Halles and down to the river.

 

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
👋🏻

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram  thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
It doesn’t cost a lot and you can even book your tickets online. We went at around 8pm. The boat was reasonably quiet, the guide was excellent and the light was beautiful 🙂

thecardiffcwtch - Paris through Instagram
When the world reveals its worst side we must never ever allow it to change us and force us to shy away from who we are. Instead, we must be stubborn, stand firm and keep on keeping on. Keep on living, loving and laughing – something that is quintessentially Parisian.