Date/time:12:30 p.m. Sunday
The panelists: Ashley Ford, Buzzfeed.com staff writer; Lori Leibovich, editor-in-chief of “Real Simple”; Stacy London, style expert and TV personality on TLC’s “Love, Lust or Run”; and Busy Philipps, actress.
The gist: Life is messier than the perfectly snapped and edited shots of sunsets, beaming babies and home-made meals found on Instagram feeds everywhere would suggest, and the lack of more realistic, unfiltered photographs depicting everyday life on the social media app was a shame to Real Simple’s magazine editors and writers. “We wanted to see less art-directed images,” Leibovich, the panel moderator, said.
So earlier this year, they created the @WomenIRL Instagram account, and with more than 52,000 followers now (the account features images tagged with #WomenIRL, so anyone with an Instagram account can participate by using that hashtag with their photos), it’s caught on like social media wildfire, sparking an interesting debate among the panelists: Do women need to “get real” on Instagram? And how are all those gorgeous images on our feeds affecting our self-esteem and that all-too-real sensation of FOMO (fear of missing out), anyway?
The takeaway: London admitted that although she uses her Instagram account to show her personal side, posting pictures of whatever’s caught her interest at the time, she still makes sure to take 10 selfies and only publish the best one — and never angle the camera upward. She coined the buzzword (er, phrase) of the panel: “cultivated transparency,” the idea that although we are baring ourselves wide open on social media, we are still choosing how to do so through filters and angles. Unfortunately, even though everyone is likely employing these techniques, “people think (the Instagram images) are accurate representations of who you are,” she said.
For the panelists, all in the public eye in some form or fashion, that means their fans often think they know them, Ford said, but that sense of familiarity forged from a brief connection over Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is applicable to just about anyone on social media: We like to share pieces of who we are, but we choose those pieces and how much of them to show.
And often, it’s a lot. London said that she originally thought she was over-sharing on Instagram; on the contrary, “what’s appropriate to share is changing because of social media, and things that seem like over-sharing for older generations aren’t for younger people.”
So is there a way to be authentic on our social sites? The four panelists didn’t have a set answer, but they did offer up brands they thought showed authenticity. Among them was the Austin-based Whole Foods, which has separate Twitter accounts for each of the regions where a store is located in addition to a main account. London liked that her Whole Foods posts about the local brands the store carries, a nice way of a big business supporting a smaller one.