My years on Instagram being public were…very informative and emotionally charged. At first there was this glee that my photos and collection were being recognized so much. I jumped to a couple thousand followers and then a few quickly enough and without trying that hard that I felt a sort of pleasant amazement. It “just happened” and it was a nice surprise. I also felt like I was part of a beautiful, accepting, warm and welcoming community that prized the things in life that really matter.
…Then things changed. And it was heartbreaking and equally unexpected.
People became more and more competitive and started flinging their crap on me as if it was my problem and fault. And if I tried to stand up for myself I often was accused of the very sins the perpetrators were actually guilty of themselves. But…I felt guilty and empathetic towards the people who came to hate me, none-the-less. And I loved the beautiful and kind souls who are not like that…
Guilty? Yes. Because I have been very blessed and I know that. But…I didn’t know it enough. And in an attempt to be my own champion I accidentally caught the righteous indignation of some and the manipulative indignation of others.
When I first started taking photos and posting them I had a maid, friend and artist (all in one) tell me that she thought my photos of perfume were stock photos when she first saw them on my blog and then eventually realized that they were done by me. She meant it as a compliment but later when people started stealing my photos and one idiot claimed that they were from a website that sells perfume I felt very violated. Some people were even foolish enough and hateful enough to believe that individual. Even though the perfume companies don’t sell the bottles I have anymore, the background was my damn apartment and umm…I had the originals.
But the people who knowingly tried to steal my photos then had the audacity (and possible narcissism) to turn around and claim that I was the bully. Giving them the benefit-of-the-doubt, perhaps they just couldn’t believe anyone was capable of taking good photos who didn’t work for a magazine. *rolling eyes*
Instagram stood up for me though and it was easy to fact-check that idiot by looking in my feed and seeing that the ledge I took pictures on was indeed part of my abode, etc. But I was scared by how dim some people are when they want to dislike you for egotistical reasons and when a loud enough and pushy enough person spouts off just the right bullshit.
But…I also am beginning to realize more and more that some people aren’t exposed to certain things. They don’t recognize the world outside of their box. We’re all like that to some degree, but there are people who are more like that than others.
They haven’t traveled very much perhaps and their view of the world is limited by the few places they’ve lived or the things they see on television or in the movies. They don’t really have a framework to understand nor do they realize its absence.
Again, some people might not have believed that it was fairly easy to take a decent photo with the right camera and some basic artistic knowledge of photography… So they felt stupidly entitled to steal my photos because they assumed incorrectly and very arrogantly that I had stolen them too (and they didn’t research it closely enough or at all).
Now, after years have passed, I think there are many more decent photos on Instagram of perfume (phone cameras have improved) and some that are so sublime that those unfortunate individuals who attacked me would be hard-pressed to convince anyone now that they were “in the right”. However, at the time, people were gullible and ripe.
Thankfully, some people believed me and again, Instagram had proof. …At the time one of the wisest pieces of advice came from a lady so many people love on Instagram in the perfume community. I told her what was happening and she said something very close to: “They like your photos. They are stealing them because you take good photos. It’s a compliment! It’s not a problem. Don’t worry.”
As someone who doesn’t usually fight unprovoked but who doesn’t easily step down from a fight when it’s started I had to take a deep breath when I read her response. She was telling me to let go. She was very right. And eventually, this spring, I had to let go of my entire account. It became dangerous and too ugly to deal with it all. So, that account doesn’t exist anymore. I deleted it.
And while those years of truly public perfume sharing were fun I’m somewhat glad they’re over. It proved to be too jarring and draining for me after the Instagram climate grew more negative over the years. If I could go back and just ignore the haters it would be lovely. There’s a lot of fun to be had by being an entertainer or artist online, but that became too difficult for me and eventually unsafe.
…Yet, I still grieve. Why? Because the issues that came to the forefront in my account are at the heart of the troubles we all face today. And I can’t just walk away from the world. And my response is mixed with anger to this day…
I went from being a conservative in high school out of rebellion to a liberal in college out of a deep call of conscience. Then, after being attacked and provoked and judged and hated over the last few years I’ve become a little…Randian. *gulp*
I also have realized, as an adult, how much my parents choose the life they led (I’ve written about them a lot over the years). As a child I felt disdain for the people who snubbed them because they weren’t bourgeois or financially secure enough, at the time, to fit in with what was our community. But now that their fortunes have changed due to familial wealth and wisdom and, again, their own choices (both good and bad)…I don’t see things the same way. And so from experience, observation and age I see a bigger picture than I saw before and I now understand more of, “how things work”. It’s not as black and white as I had thought and yet, at the same time, responsibility is a constant theme. Sorry if that’s too abstract.
It might not seem fitting, but one of my favorite quotations is from the Woody Allen film, “Blue Jasmine” and it’s what keeps circling around in my head. Augie, played by Andrew Dice Clay, says it towards the end of the film. And I think he’s easily one of the most brilliant and intriguing characters. He says, “…Some people, they don’t put things behind so easily.”
Some of us experience the sharpness of every reality in a way that others can avoid or ignore. And it’s not because we’re too sensitive. It’s because we see it…and…we saw it…and it affects us and there’s nothing left to do but mourn. And for some of us it’s particularly hard to let go when we know we’re right… Poor Augie. “You think I wanna be laying pipeline all the hell the way up in Alaska?”