Mask and Mirror: Why Instagram Ain’t Your Friend

Anna Dusseau | 11th June 2020

Let me begin by saying that I know, deep down, that I’m a technophobe. The fact that I can almost instantly follow that up with the fact that I’m also more than a dash antisocial, makes me wonder just what kind of tech-free, people-free Eden I’d be wandering in right now if I could have it my way. Perhaps some kind of glamorous remake of Castaway, with wine and duvets and plenty of good books? But my topic is Instagram and it’s a funny one to post about when, like me, you’ve never even done it. Not once. I’ve heard all about it though, which I kind of think is all you need.

So, this isn’t a dig at you personally if you are on Instagram, like the rest of the world. Really, it’s not. And even I can see the appeal when I think about it. For anyone who is creating a tangible ‘product’ through their work or hobby, this is clearly an ideal ‘gallery’ to display. Like a shop window. We all appreciate good photography and tempting food, holidays, and clothing. I totally get it and why not, you know? It’s a bit of fun. But that’s where we should draw the line, I feel. Once it’s anything more than a 21st century flick through the coffee table glossy mag. ‘We should not,’ a wise person once told me, ‘compare our insides to another person’s outsides.’ Thanks, Jax Blunt.

Here’s why I don’t think Instagram is going to help you out with home educating:

  • Homeschooling is Messy. But like, actually messy, not artfully strewn. Think more along the lines of balled-up sellotape kicking about, books and piles of laundry on the floor (‘Who’s is this?’), and a giant cardboard rocket made out of cereal boxes (painted? nope.) leaning sadly in the corner pondering, as we all do, the purpose of it’s existence.
  • Homeschooling is Chaotic and Child-Led. And if you’re doing it, you’ll know what I mean. I have no idea from one minute to the next what extravagant plans my children will come up with. Even snapping the occasional pic for the grandparents is a tough call. They’ll all be lined up making pizza dough together once minute, then my daughter shoots off to find her book, while the baby starts throwing handfuls of flour at the wall.
  • Homeschool Hands are Always Full. Whether I’m fixing a remote control, finding thread to make a bead bracelet, printing off some information about motorbikes that my middle son has to know right now, or simply restraining the baby as he tries to lick the vacuum cleaner…I literally don’t have room for anything else to hold. Let alone swipe and upload. And I sort of like it that way.
  • Homeschool Learning Moments are Fragile. Because real learning happens in a bubble of time and place. A boy figuring out the words for himself, lips moving silently, sounding out the words. A girl planting mint in the herb box outside, the paving smeared with earth. A baby licking a vacuum cleaner. They might not look like much, but what’s going on is important, and you don’t want to break the moment.
  • Homeschooling is Unique. And this is probably the most significant point. We are all so different. I am yet to meet a homeschooling family that I could easily compare to another; such is the variety. There is little to be gained from checking out idyllic woodland walks, if your kids are miserable on hikes. And similarly, it is a waste of time prepping resources to set up an incredible craft activity you saw on Insta, when you know this isn’t really your seven-year-old’s idea of fun. Try asking the kids for ideas, instead.
  • Homeschooling is About What You Don’t See. Like the ‘eureka!’ moment when one of them grasps a mathematical concept, or the rainy afternoon you introduced them to a classic movie or musical. You can’t capture this stuff; it’s the beauty of life – the true, ephemeral spirit of learning – and it eludes us every time.

So no, I don’t do Instagram, and that’s not just because trying to grab my kids for a photo is about as straightforward as catching a Cornish Pixie with a butterly net. It’s because, really, I don’t see the point.

Published by Anna Dusseau

Writer | Educator | Homeschooling Mum

6 thoughts on “Mask and Mirror: Why Instagram Ain’t Your Friend

  1. You hit a chord with me on this one. I can’t stand Instagram. I guess that is a strong feeling but it did come from somewhere. My old next-door neighbors were newlyweds when they moved in. Shy, timid – never broke the speed limit kind of folk. Within a couple of years of Instagram the husband began giving himself the name #instagramhusband They both started getting tattoos, he got a whole sleeve of his grandmother (?!). He bought a motorcycle and a helmet – and honest to gosh – he would roll the motorcycle down to the street to sit on it to get his Instagram picture taken. He never rode the stupid motorcycle, he just took pictures of himself for image purposes. Instagram is fake, and boy I do hate fake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do feel the same from what people tell me; thank you so much for contributing your story. That’s exactly what I mean. I truly believe that there is no harm if you have a product to sell or are using it just to share your life with people, but my personal feeling is that the line between reality and fantasy are easily blurred and I just wanted to say in the post that nobody should feel pressure for their parenting or homeschool life to look like that, because anything that looks really perfect is artistic and beautiful to look at – of course – but not real.

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  2. Yup. Instagram are people showing the best of their lives at really good moments! I’ve been guilty of it myself on IG. I do love seeing other artists creations though on IG. And I do love seeing posts on Apartment Therapy with dream rooms, which can’t be real – ha! Everything so neat and tidy all the time. Life is not neat and tidy. But I do get twinges at time when looking at IG of “yikes, my life sucks, it could never be that perfect” – that is the dark side of IG! 🙂

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  3. Lol I am sure I would be the same if I was on it.. I think we all love a bit of escapism, but I just wanted to be clear that I think it’s important not to aim for something that isn’t real. Thank you so much for your comment.

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  4. I agree with everything you have said today Anna. Insta’porn almost, to coin a phrase! Homeschooling is real work, real progress only comes from hard work and focus. Got to go – dinner time is calling! 🙂

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