Ah, the joys of Instagram

Nairobi City Centre 7.30 p.m.

I hurriedly cross Kimathi Street from Corner House then walk till I’m directly opposite The Stanley. I glance around before fishing out my phone from deep within my large bag, while pretending to be impatiently waiting for a late other. I look up at the highest point of the hotel and get a little disappointed. The lights are not on as I had expected. I stare at the building for a few seconds before I start walking back in the direction I came from. I bump into a girl I knew from uni. Was it Maureen? Doreen? Can’t remember. “Hiiii!!” I greet enthusiastically, before we hug, exchange pleasantries, work details, numbers and promises to call or visit one another. I glance to my right at The Stanley once again. To my delight, the lights are on, shining ever so brightly. I hurry back to where I was standing short while ago and take out my phone again…

Unfortunately, this is not an excerpt from a diary I kept during my CIA days. I have no CIA days. 😦 This was me trying to take a photo of the Christmas lights outside The Sarova Stanley. I was unsuccessful. I intend to try again. You will never take me alive!! NEVER!

Ok, that was uncalled for.

This is a post about a few interesting observations I have made since I started using Instagram, an online photo-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take a picture, apply a digital filter to it, and share it on a variety of social networking services, including its own (Wikipedia), a few months ago, which is where that picture would probably have ended up.

  1. You start noticing that almost anything makes a potentially a good Instagram photo. ALMOST. No, your big toe should by no means be instagrammed.
  2. You suddenly have a new found appreciation for oddly shaped clouds and cloud formations, sunrises and sunsets, plants (especially flowers), buildings and cityscapes (oh these are a big hit on Instagram), food (I don’t think we need to discuss this one. If it doesn’t end up on Insagram, it probably wasn’t a good meal) et cetera.
  3. Mundane, every day objects have a lot of Instagram potential. By all means, snap that coffee mug on your office desk.
  4. You develop this morbid fear of posting bad photos. Instagrammers are unforgiving when it comes to that. No one will ❤ your pic. Maybe just Get1000FallowersNow (It actually is ‘fallowers’). You’re better off posting bad photos on Facebook. Or Twitter.
  5. Sometimes you will be caught in an awkward position as you try to take photos in public. People will think you’re a spy and associate you with the CIA (I need to stop making these random CIA references before I find myself on a watch list). Or worse, think you’re a terrorist. Maybe not, though you will get some weird stares as you try to take a photo of an awesome-looking building from a matatu window while parked in traffic.
  6. Family and friends who don’t know of Instagram will wonder why you feel the need to take photos of random objects and food. After you explain how Instagram works to them, they still won’t get it. Though they will be very helpful during your instagramming endeavours, sometimes ask you to take photos of them, the food they make and at times non-instagrammable objects, which you will politely decline.
  7. You’ll get a little excited every time seasoned photographers like @Truthslinger, @stevekitots and @LeonMuli, among others, like your Instagram photos. 😀
  8. You’ll go through your Instagram feed once in a while and wonder if you could quit your day job, become a photographer and travel the world. You will decide against it.
  9. You’ll discover that unlike on Facebook, liking someone’s photo from three months ago on Instagram is actually not that creepy or stalker-like, though it would be best if this happened just after you follow the said individual.
  10. You’ll become more appreciative of beauty and photography in general, and also learn a coupla cool tricks that will, with time enhance your photo-taking skills (if you’re keen enough, that is).
Contrary to popular belief, this doesn't happen as often as you would think...
Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t happen as often as you would think…

 

I have to applaud Kenya365 and everyone who’s been participating in the weekly photography challenges they put forward. It’s admirable, the way that Kenyans have taken to telling and documenting the Kenyan story through photography.

p.s. Interestingly, this post comes at a time when Instagram’s new Terms Of Service had caused an uproar on the interwebs, with people questioning whether or not the social network/photo sharing site intends to sell users photos to other parties without their consent. Personally, I would be thrilled to see the photo of that milkshake with the glow-in-the-dark straw I took a few days ago in an ad. I may embark on my photography career if that happens. Also, here’s my esteemed Instagram feed. 😉

What interesting observations have you made about Instagram?

How to take a Twitter break

Sometime in April, I decided to log off Twitter for a couple of important (seriously) reasons that I will not disclose. Ok, it was for the GREATER good. Happy? Anyhow, it will become clear once you read what I have to say. It was actually on March 31st, which means that I missed all the hilarious April Fools’ tweets that I found out about later. So here are a few steps I learnt about quitting Twitter when you need to.

1. Decide to quit twitter for a couple of days. Trust me, you definitely have a reason. At least four days. Any less and there won’t be much effect.

2. Don’t announce your departure on Twitter. Make your last tweet an indefinite one. My last one before I took a break was, “Coke before bedtime – not a good idea.” And it wasn’t.

3. Tweeps you know may randomly mention in conversation or on a call or text, that they have not seen your tweets for a while. You will, of course, respond to this by telling them that you’re on a Twitter break. They will want to know why. Give a vague and mysterious answer to those that ask. Say stuff like, “I felt like it was time.” Or “I’m doing this for my country”. Those are good enough answers. Don’t say when you’ll be back on Twitter.

4. Keep a dramatic diary of your days away from Twitter. Here’s an excerpt from mine.

“So I decided to take a break from Twitter for several days (four days, that include a weekend so you can imagine the magnitude of this action :D) for a number of important reasons… This is the diary I kept for those four agonizing days:

Day 1– 31/3/2011
NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I AM DYING TO TWEET!! I logged into Twitter several times today…you know to see how things were going, though I didn’t tweet 😦 I really wanna Tweet right now. I’m addicted, right? Anyway I logged in, read people’s tweets, laughed at some… Also, I saw some really great tweets that I was dying to retweet, but I could not. OH THE HUMANITY!! Am I being too dramatic about this? I mean it’s only Twitter. SIGH 😦
Oh you should know that I replied two DMs today, dear temporary diary. If our brief relationship is going to work, I have to tell you everything. Those DMs were important. Seriously, they were…” End of excerpt.

5. Log in once in a while during your break just to see how things are going, but DO NOT tweet. Actually, after day one of your break, refrain from doing this. You’ll be surprised by how much free time you suddenly have. Use this time wisely. Bird watching or ice sculpting are viable options. If not, read a book or something.

6. After your break is over, make a nonchalant return, never mentioning that you were away unless someone asks. Give previously mentioned vague answers to anyone who asks why you needed to be off Twitter.

And you’re back to the same old addiction that you love to hate.

Note:
This won’t work if you’re not a frequent Tweeter/addicted to Twitter. Also, now that I’m not really addicted to Twitter (Don’t look at me like that! I’m not! *shrugs*) and can take a whole day, nay, two days off comfortably, I look back on those days and chuckle at my…well, I just chuckle.

Have you had any trouble with social media addiction? Any tips?