The thing about Instagram is that it's really easy for one thing to lead to another and bada bing bada bang you're following some celebrity you have a middling to negligible interest in. Which explains why I follow Hugh Jackman and Dianne Kruger (?!) So it was that I found myself following Henry Wagons, who is a pretty prolific Instagramer. There I was, just seeing what he was up to several times a day, so when he brought his baby daughter into the pool where Baby has swimming lessons I was confronted by that creepy feeling of knowing way too much about the stranger standing right in front of me. It's fine feeling like you know a celebrity on the other side of the world because they are completely removed from you but there is something disconcerting about that feeling when it involves some guy you just see around. Needless to say I stopped following Henry Wagons. But it happens with other people too and it's slightly uncomfortable for me.
Given this is how I feel about the stalkerish nature of Instagram I was pretty surprised by the turn I took on a recent late-night jaunt through the search function.
You see when you go into the search function, Instagram offers suggestions of people you might like to follow, people with similar followers or followees or hashtags or locations or who-knows-what to the people you already follow, and so it was that a picture posted by a local gallery came to my attention. And in that picture was a woman I recognised as a distant neighbour. She lives in my street but way down the other end so I don't know her, I just walk past her frequently as she works in her garage with the roller door open right into the street, working at a desk or pottering around surrounded by small prints 5-10 centimetres wide. She's always working away looking contented and I've wondered about her so many times. What is she doing? Are those her prints? Is this her job? Her life? It's just this lovely little studio in a garage and she really captured my imagination, so I could hardly believe that I'd just stumbled on this picture of her. Of course it was only a couple of clicks before I was following her on Instagram and now I know so much more about her. How she has cats, of course, that seem to be like children. And she's renovating her house. And yes she's a print maker and those are her lovely little prints around her studio. And contrary to what you may think, this glimpse into her life hasn't disappointed me at all. I love it. And she's not a friend or a celebrity. Just an artist with a public Instagram account. I haven't walked past her since this has happened so I guess it remains to be seen how I feel about this situation. I guess I may feel a little too creepy and have to stop following her, but right now I don't feel nearly as uncomfortable about it as I'd have suspected. Well, not after the first 10 minutes when I wondered if this was indeed a weird thing to do. I mean, her account is public. What a strange new world.