Social Media Overload


Leah Hacker
Head of Research - Accomplice

Shelby Sorrel is a 24-year-old who works a desk job in a cubicle for an insurance company. In her spare time, she seriously enjoys food. Shelby has become a local foodie who fell into the title when she started posting pictures of her meals and the spaces she eats them in around the city to her personal Instagram account.

She thinks what separated her from other prominent food bloggers is her focus on the space and not just the plate. She gained a following, befriended some fellow foodies and then started using hashtags to organically grow her following. She talks to IWDR about how technology has helped turn love of food into 11.8K Instagram followers and where she sees the future for what she does as a foodie.

“I should probably be more shameful, but I just post what I want when I want and if someone doesn’t like it they can unfollow me.” says Shelby.

She says that people are usually surprised to find out that this wasn’t something orchestrated and she doesn’t consider herself a social media expert. She eats out and she likes taking pictures of food so she just started posting a lot without any rules or holding back. She also learned some editing tricks and incorporated hashtags along the way, but for the most part, she describes it as a genuine overflow of her love of food and aesthetically pleasing spaces.

“I love Instagram and I love the way it’s allowed me to express myself and the joy that it brings me because I love taking photos and I love sharing my life with people, but if this wasn’t a thing it would be so much easier. We would just go places because the food is really good not because it’s Instagram-able. Like it’s sad that in this day and age we go where things that we can then photograph to make ourselves look cool,” said Shelby.

Outside of her commitment to Instagram, Shelby is a normal user of technology. Of course ‘normal’ is a relative term, but I’m talking the basics here for any millennial. Facebook to keep up with friends and relatives, Snapchat for dumb selfies to your close friends – which she admits is less enticing with the adoption of Instagram stories, and Netflix for binge watching the latest hit TV shows.

“It’s stressful. There’s this Instagram expectation of me now, and a Snapchat expectation and then there’s Facebook which is probably the most real version of me,” said Shelby.

The human factor that Shelby brings to the conversation is the belief about where technology is going in the future.

“[Use of a lot of different platforms] could potentially fade out,” says Shelby. “Technology is so saturated and it’s getting really hard to juggle all of that,” said Shelby.

She speaks to this idea of “giving up” certain tools for a more focused use of others. Shelby believes that eventually there will be one lone social platform that comprehensively meshes all the different facets of social sharing.

Shelby said, “It’s just this exhausting cycle. My roommate and I talk about this a lot but we think that people are feeling overwhelmed.”

Whether or not the market is ready to adopt such a product is a different story, but it gives us a glimpse into the mind of this everyday user. She’s exhausted with the upkeep of multiple platforms, but loyal to the platforms that offer her the most value. She willingly falls into Instagram marketing but says without it things would be easier. Is she talking out of both sides of her mouth or is she articulating the problem that creators have the opportunity to answer in innovative ways that make the future of technology a more effortless experience?

Shelby says, “I don’t think technology is to blame…well yes I do…well no I don’t…I don’t know. I think technology is 30% what it is and 70% what you make it.”

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Human Factor is a series focused on highlighting how individuals use technology in their everyday life. Sometimes unique, sometimes revolutionary, sometimes ordinary. Always human. Read more of the series, here.