The naysayers claim that Instagram is all about envy and FOMO. They say it's edited, posed, curated, unreal, and angst-inducing. In some case they may be right, but I think it's maybe taking it all a little too seriously - and forgetting the huge element of choice it offers. If you don't want to see someone else's perfect life/body/house/pet/child/style/wardrobe/boyfriend/girlfriend, you don't have to follow them.
I've been on Instagram for over a year now, and it's become a habit. A habit to take photos and put them up, and a habit to look at other people's photos. And, unlike some of my not-so-edifying habits, it's one I'm happy with. Because the flip side of Instagram, the one which isn't populated by attention-seeking celebrities with huge abs and huge everything else, is full of ordinary people looking and doing and making and experiencing and enjoying everyday life. People with an excellent eye for design, colour, detail and pattern, who celebrate the moment with spontaneity, wit and humour.
In an era when we take it for granted that we can get hold of foods and flowers all year round, regardless of their true season, it's amazing and very reassuring that the worldwide users of an app do the opposite of global companies, airlines and advertising agencies and demonstrate that it's the local, the specific, the daily, and even the momentary, that make our lives rich and richly interesting.
On Instagram the first daffodils are greeted with delight, seedlings are nurtured, quince blossom is captured before the petals drop, there's an explosion of peonies during their brief season, peas are podded, roses are smelled, jam is stirred, autumn leaves are raked, festive cakes are baked, socks are cast on, socks are cast off.
hollyhocks at home
I think it's quite possible to look at these photos without envy or FOMO. Instead, I see them a little reminders of the good things in life, images that reassure me that someone, somewhere, is enjoying and appreciating and wanting to share such things as a bowl of clementines, a crimson broad bean leaf, a sunny wall, a misty landscape, a bunch of tulips.
Kent strawberries and a meringue for a mess
They tell me that people all over the world are in tune with the seasons in their own little microcosms, and that they bother to notice what's going on. If you follow a good bunch of Instagrammers who take natural, unforced, authentic photos, you can get a colourful and ever-changing stream of snapshots.
white roses and lace
It's a kind of visual mindfulness, a gentle prod to make the most of the moment. If anything, it's the opposite of envy and FOMO because it makes you realise that you, too, can be a part of it.
[All iPhone photos taken in the last fortnight]