Kiera McNally’s Instagram is an oasis amongst a swathing sea of identical influencers, overwhelming global information and shameless self-promotion. Perhaps this is why she has amassed over 100k followers. Cultivated in a seemingly natural, care-free and light-hearted way, her feed consists of a patchwork of her creative personal projects, such as the delicious dishes she cooks up with witchy ingredients, as well as the customised clothing and DJ mixes she makes. In a time when having a ‘following’ has become its own kind of cultural currency we asked Kiera to write for us about her approach to social media.
(Written by Kiera)
In the town where I grew up, we prided ourselves – even if for a short time – in having the biggest mall in the world. All different kinds of attractions and types of people would come to take part. Now, I have come to accept Instagram as the new biggest virtual mall in the world. Attractions include literally millions of stores, advertisements, as well as various social cliques and party invitations. Certain aspects of it, such as keeping up with the news of the day and learning about important causes to get involved with are more important than others, namely the avid people watching and the resulting fomo that the “App of America” induces.
As with any huge shopping centre, you are bombarded with advertisements. Billboards and posters now have complete personalities and lives. Contrary to popular belief, I totally think influencers have serious talent. It is a weird new department of the web and there are those navigating it well. Personally though, I am extremely picky as to what logo is even allowed on the front of my t-shirt. What scares me the most is the homogeneity of content that’s created. Individualism is seemingly harder and increasingly under-valued when knowing what kind of aesthetic is “liked” becomes a mathematical algorithm. I would be fine with no “likes”,just to be observed and reflected on is enough for me. Having an audience was never my goal and thinking about it kind of gives me stage fright. I think the majority of people might have some trepidation standing on a stage in front of 100,000 people… in real life. It seems the larger you get on a platform, the more one dimensional you’re destined to become. It can be hard to be real in an unreal place.
The mall I grew up around had some wild things. This included a year-round indoor water park with a wave pool, a pirate ship that was an exact replica of Christopher Columbus’ flagship the Santa Maria, and an extravagant amusement park with the largest indoor roller coaster called “ The Mind Bender”. Instagram, meanwhile, offers maybe even more mind bending rides through filters! If you want to see what you look like as a pirate? You can! If you want to see what mundane house object you are? You can! Not that anyone else in the world might care. But it’s definitely fun! Beauty standards exist with or without virtual filters and it’s kind of funny to think of all of us like animals transfixed in our own reflections of some non-existent reality. It’s honestly where Instagram thrives. The creativity and humour in some of these creators is so cool. And the speed in how they advanced is unreal. It’s interesting to see how filters might unfold in the future. I remember the first time my Grandma tried a computer and picked up the keyboard mouse and raised her hand up towards the ceiling to try and move the cursor up on the monitor screen. I’m sure one day I will be a grandma upset because I think I’ve turned myself into a teapot with a cut jawline for the rest of my life.
As much fun as the mall was, the most meaningful relationships and experiences happened elsewhere. And it’s the same for me in regards to social media. There is so much more to people and relationships than what you can see and hear. Entering the Instagram domain can definitely be super anxiety inducing but no matter where I am, I try and remember the most important space to maintain is that within my head.