Insta Me

Yesterday I went on my very first ‘Instameet’ – a group of photo-app Instagram enthusiasts met up to socialise and photograph the Tall Ships Festival in Greenwich. There were about 100 of us ‘IGers’, as we are known, and there are ‘meets’ like this all over the world, in most major cities. I loved it – I met some really great people who are as curious as me about the world, with the same ‘that could be a great Instagram’ view on life in London.

I’ve always been a bit of an Instagram purist – I take the ‘insta’ part of it very seriously and HAVE to post photos then and there, in the moment. It slightly irks me when other IGers post things a day or even a week later. The ‘insta’ element has gone as far as I’m concerned and these photos become ‘latergrams’. 

So it took me by surprise that the majority of IGers are using state-of-the-art digital cameras, a range of editing apps, and taking and storing up pictures to be edited and posted later. I posted my Tall Ships pictures as we walked round, all of them taken on my lil’ ol’ iPhone, within the Instagram app, with only a filter added here and there. When I ‘checked in’ to a particular location, I was actually standing there. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with either way of working but it made me think about how I always want instant gratification and how difficult I find it to wait for things to happen. I like to live life in the moment, because very quickly the moment is gone.

This affects every facet of my life.

Some time ago, a work colleague coined the term, ‘Lisa Time.’ I’d go to the pub with her after work and complain about how long it took for people to do or respond to things. Whether it was a response to a work proposal or a text from a guy I liked, I’d moan to her about how long it all took. One night, she said, “Lisa – those people you think are slow are actually just running at normal speed. It is you who is going fast.” 

This was an epiphany for me. I started to think about all those times when I have found slowness so tiresome.

Commuting to work: quite apart from obvious delays on public transport, I often think that I could complete a day’s work by the time some people have moved out of the tube station. They seem to be rambling happily along, as though they’re on a relaxing holiday. In fact:

Holidays: when people take pictures of themselves ‘relaxing’ on holiday with a cocktail, I wince. Just the word ‘relaxing’ makes me cringe slightly. In these pictures, people are often staring soporifically at the camera, and you know they’re just going to be sitting there like that, without moving, for hours. I find it difficult to be so inactive, so anaesthetised from life – if I’m going to drink, then it comes with very lively conversation and possibly dancing. If people ask me what I do to ‘relax’, I say ‘I go for a run or walk to work.’ Yep, that’s my form of anaesthetic. I’ve actually had to train myself to do ‘sun-lounging’ on holiday, with regular breaks to do something relaxing. Like walking.

At the supermarket: my nemesis is the painfully slow self-checkout, with people moving items over the scanner at a glacial pace. I’m often tempted to just grab the stuff and do it for them. There you go, love. You just gained five minutes of extra time in your life. You’re welcome.

Buying stuff: instant gratification means I buy stuff now – clothes, holidays, drinks, books, food. When I want them (within reason). I don’t save for a rainy day. I know that freaks some people out, but I think I’ve seen too many lives fall apart in later life to wait for some mythical halcyon day to arrive when I can spend all my money. I want to enjoy it now.

Dating: the deliberately slow response to a message so that the receiver doesn’t think you’re too keen. I’ve given up on that. I just answer. I’m usually near or holding my phone when a message comes through so I just answer it. “That was quick!!” they always say. Yep, it is. Deal with it. 

Work emails: I operate a fast-response policy. Sometimes too hastily done, but I can’t bear the other person labouring under a false impression of something, if I have the correct answer to the query, or a correction to the content of the email. Over the years, I’ve caught sight of a few colleagues’ inboxes with hundreds of unread, unresponded-to emails. I can’t bear to look…

Facebook and Twitter: again, I operate my fast-response policy, if only to get rid of the annoying notification symbol from my wall. I want to answer or accept the invitation and move on. As with work emails, I sometimes see friends’ notifications numbering over 20 and shudder. If I get one – I see it, answer it if required, move on. 

Group activities: if I’m going out with a group of people to the pub or something, I always walk on ahead by myself. I can’t bear that moment of faffing around waiting for slowies, and then having to curb my pace as we walk to the venue, filling the time with small talk. I time my activities so I get there ‘just in time’, not before or after (well, maybe a little bit after, as slowies sometimes slow me down en route). It happened at yesterday’s Instameet – the moment after the initial group ‘meet’ in Greenwich saw me striding off on my own to find a space to take pictures. I caught up with a splinter group later, just as they were deciding to move on to the next location. Perfect.

Technology: my iPhone is actually too slow for me. If I accidentally open the wrong app, that split second where it opens and closes makes me want to yell with frustration. The same can be said for supermarket checkout scanners – I’ve put the item on the bagging area before it’s even recognised what it is. Keep up, Tesco, keep up.

I’m not sure if I’m cumulatively gaining extra time in my life by all this high-speed activity, but to me, it’s not high speed, it’s Lisa Time. It’s just the way I choose to live and I do find it difficult to witness people going at half pace. To me, they seem half alive, but maybe I am missing something.

I have tried to slow down in recent years and be kinder to myself, but still, my best moments are the spontaneous, fast-moving, ‘alive’ ones. Like the moment last night where I met one of the IGers from that morning and went drinking and dancing on the terrace outside the Royal Festival Hall. I was exhausted from the day but why would I go home and sleep when I could embrace the moment? It felt like the official Last Night of Summer, as we danced outside.

So today, I’m relaxing, after my Big Night. I’m writing this in bed at noon, with Sunday Brunch on my iPad next to me and espresso on tap. 


Might go for a run in a bit…


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Fifty-five-year-old woman flying solo since 2010. Freelance writer, editor, hiker, traveller, yoga teacher. Alcohol-, child-, and hair-dye-free.

10 thoughts on “Insta Me”

  1. I added you on Instagram – I’m turquoisefloyd. Hope that’s OK! I’ve often had to delay posting my pics to Instagram because my current phone is very erratic when it comes to connecting to the Internet. Sometimes I have to wait until I get home to connect to our network and post them. Thankfully I have a new phone being delivered tomorrow so fingers crossed I’ll finally be able to post the pics on the move!


  2. I’m amused; as I read through your example scenarios, I found myself falling first to one end, then the middle, and then to the other end, of the slow/fast spectrum.

    Agree wholeheartedly on the technology, emails, facebook, twitter, (and can extrapolate all that to dating, so that, too), and group activities – though for slightly different reasons on that last. I don’t mind slowing my pace for the slowies (I am one, with all my foot problems), but I find that that’s when the kind of small talk I most loathe is highly likely to rear its ugly head: incessant repetition of the travel arrangements.

    With buying stuff, I want a middle ground, precisely because life doesn’t go to plan. Some savings for a rainy day is vital for my peace of mind, and at the same time, saving all enjoyment up for a completely unguaranteed future strikes me as rather silly.

    And then, alas, we lose our common ground when it comes to ideas about relaxing and traversing through life. Staring into space for hours on end doesn’t appeal, but I’ve been lost to the world for days on end to a book. Interesting that you see it as being half alive; I see haste through everyday life as being oblivious to the delights around you, and thus, in its own way, half alive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. One of the things about Instagram is that it makes you acutely aware of the delights around you, so that when I’m walking to work (fast!) I drink them all in, and photograph some on my phone. Laying or sitting in stasis, I couldn’t do that. As for books, that is one of the issues with my speedy lifestyle – I’ve lost the ability (or urge) to just spend days with one. The only time I properly read novels for days on end now is on holiday, but I still have to have ‘activity’ breaks. It’s interesting that you read my ‘half alive’ comment as relating to reading books, though. It didn’t. I’m referring to what I perceive as people just moving slowly through life, not engaging with anything around them, even a good book. It smacks of a lack of curiosity about the world to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think everyone has their own way of interacting with the world. Normally I’d worry about the emotional wellbeing of someone who did everything at top speed but having read your blogs, I wouldn’t have that worry about you but the folks that I’ve come across who do everything at top speed and have to fill every moment with activity are striving *not* to think and not to spend time with their own thoughts – I think they’re afraid of themselves without realising it – perhaps that’s what southernmyst is referring to. Some of us just take a little longer to take things in and digest which is why we seem to move a little slower. As a disclaimer, that does not apply to commuting, supermarkets, work emails, Facebook (providing my phone actually send me the notifications), Group activities and technology 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And the same people who take forever to get through the checkout are the ones who don’t even *think* about getting out their wallet until every. single. bloody. item. is packed away and in their trolley!


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