Tales of A Suggested User


In September 2014, I was listed as a 'suggested user' on Instagram. This is an excerpt from my 'Tales of a Suggested User', a personal account I wrote during that time as a way of documenting the experience."About four weeks ago, incidentally on a day I was wondering whether to take a break from Instagram due to major lack of inspiration, I got a direct message from Instagram. It was all in Afrikaans and my Afrikaans are pretty bad. Then I got an email from IG with the English version of their earlier message and all became clear. I had been put on their suggested user list.

I realised, that when you don't have a lot of Instagram-crazy friends and family in real life it's kind of hard to celebrate. 'Mom, I was made a suggested user on Instagram!' Pause. 'Mom, are you there?' I said a little yay and messaged my sister to share the news and we had a virtual happy dance over Whatsapp which looked like this: 🙅🙋🙅🙆. A few days later the followers really started flooding in and I hit the magical 10k, and then 45k, and then 80k! For those of you who've been wondering what I did - I didn't do anything! I just carried on posting pictures of trees and flowers and the odd volksie bus. Some kind soul may have put my name forward as a suggested user (Instagram does encourage that) or someone at Instagram HQ drew my name out of a hat!

The thing I really have enjoyed about Instagram so far is the authenticity of the interaction between complete strangers. I've heard others say it and I've experienced it personally: people you follow can genuinely become friends. I love those real life moments when you meet a fellow iger face to face with, "Oh you're @thepersonfrominstagram!" I also love that Instagram is one of the most genuinely encouraging platforms I know. People are so darn kind and caring, praying for each other, sending birthday messages, saying awesome things about the sometimes run-of-the-mill pics we all post, and laughing at our cheesy jokes.

That for me is precious. I don't want to lose that. I'd rather have a handful of followers who genuinely care than a small rugby stadium full who are all about 'follow for follows' or 'can I have a shoutout?' I'm more invested in the fact that most Instagram accounts represent real people who are living real lives, wanting to connect in a real way. So if you're a new follower of mine, or anyone else's, please say hello. I don't really want a a big number with a little 'k' after it, I'd really like to meet you. 

And let's celebrate with each other. What a temptation to think a large following means something about the quality of pics someone takes. There are loads of people with only a smattering of followers who are way more talented, have a better eye and shine through their feeds. Keep on being brilliant for the few and do what you love. Quit the comparison for a while and just have fun."