Is the #Studygram Healthy? Study and Social Media
A few months back I wrote a blog evaluating study techniques that have been popularised by the #studygram, an online community that popularises productivity in all stages of education, all over the world. Instagram has been a part of my life since I was fifteen, but it's only recently that I started a dedicated account that focused on my study and university experience. After building my community for three months, I thought it'd be worth opening up a discussion about the impact of social media on productivity, as well as talking about the false realities sometimes created by Instagram.
To give you some background, I started my Instagram after my blogs became more regular, and I typically post three to four times a week, with a mix of old and new images. I tell stories of my university experience, as well as current anecdotes of my life as a graduate in an informal style. I follow accounts that exclusively focus on study content, which in turn creates a motivating feed that is a nice balance between aesthetic desk set-ups and more casual content like mine. I stay away from "follow for follow" accounts, as that isn't the purpose of my content.
The polished aesthetic that many accounts use is relaxing and pleasing to the eye, especially when combined with subtle filters and maybe some text overlays. I'm under no assumption that these people's desks permanently look like this, but it's still great to look at. I don't think there's a specific formula to success, but the majority of accounts centre around one subject being studied at university. There are definitely accounts run by younger students who are still at school, but I've seen many more focused on higher education. As well as posting pictures of workspaces, images of note-taking, stationary and the environment form the basis of content on my feed. I would say that my account does feature more pictures of myself than a typical #studygram, but I tend to intersperse them with my office environment.
My account has grown organically over the past several months, and it is an easy pastime to keep up with. I stay away from follow chains and spam accounts, and make sure to consider what content is appropriate for the internet. Of course, I still get random accounts that follow me, often advertising a scam, or wanting to date me (yikes) which I remove quickly. My DMs are always open, and I like having the freedom to talk to other people. However, I am over the age of eighteen, and I would never encourage my younger followers to talk to strangers online. Exercise caution as you would do normally. I would also never buy followers, which is an easy way to inflate numbers. This costs money, but also goes against Instagram's terms and conditions, which could mean my account could be suspended. Also, a lot of the followers are bots, so are essentially fake profiles that won't interact with your content any, keeping your engagement low. Instagram removes fake followers periodically anyway, so it's just a big waste of time.
Having a "non-traditional" study environment has made me question the lifespan of these accounts. Some have thousands of followers, combined with successful sponsorships and brand affiliations. To be able to generate an income from social media is something to be admired, and lends itself to the growing number of people choosing to earn income from multiple sources in preference to a typical day-job. The freedom it must bring to be able to study and earn a regular income must be a great relief for these successful accounts, and it serves as a reminder of the resilience and resourcefulness of young people. However, what happens when the study is over? I pondered this question a bit, as I started my account after I had finished my university study. This website provided the obvious answer, and I like to think that my Instagram presence serves to be a hybrid between a study account, lifestyle account and a promotion for my blogs. I honestly prefer it this way, as it gives my account longevity, but also allows for expansion into other avenues as everything evolves.
Not having an aesthetic office set-up is something I discussed in a previous blog, and it's become more noticeable to me the more time I spend in the study communities of social media. There aren't many accounts which don't focus around the user's study space. so there is a definite gap in the market. The mysterious Instagram algorithm isn't something I can even pretend to understand, but I rarely get recommended accounts that don't have a cohesive feed, usually containing pictures all taken in the same place. If that's how you get popular, that's fine, but I think it's important to note that some people won't have a desk in their room, or even a dedicated study spot in their entire living situation, so have to work flexibly. The lack of visibility for those study situations is something I've been trying to bring awareness to over the past few months, but I also understand that Instagram is based entirely off the aesthetic nature of the photos that are uploaded. Basically, if you're thinking of joining the community, you don't have to be perfect, but it may take a bit longer to get started and noticed. It doesn't bother me in the slightest, and I like to think that my followers appreciate my content being more diverse.
At time of writing, I have around 300 followers on my account. I usually scroll through my feed once or twice a day, as well as look for new accounts to follow, as people join the community all the time. It's something that gives me five minutes of peace, and I don't feel like it negatively impacts me in any way. Last month, I took a break from Twitter, as I felt like I needed some space from the academic world after a big rejection. It was nothing personal, but I realised that it wasn't a healthy space for me at the time. Thankfully I've always been pretty good at checking in on my mental health and setting healthy boundaries, and at the end of the day, nothing is really real, we are just alive, and at the end of the day, your follower count won't matter when you're old. I feel like no-one says that enough and it's easy to get caught up in the carefully edited world of social media, so take some time and remember that it's all for show, and it's all the best bits!
For the future, I'm committed to staying within the #studygram community and continuing to grow my account in an authentic way. Buying followers is completely unnecessary, and I don't spend a great deal of time on photo editing. For the record, I will never edit my body to change its appearance; all I do is add a filter and crop my photos. Engaging with the community that I've started to build is a fun part of my day, and I hope to continue to grow over the next couple of months. I'm not worried about the numbers or engagement, and have genuinely enjoyed the conversations I've had.
If you'd like to follow me on Instagram, my account name is @tibbotttalks_study
Finally, here are some quick tips from a fledgling #studygrammer:
Be authentic - filters are fine, but try to keep images true to how you want to be seen.
Be consistent - posting every day isn't necessary, but try to check in every few days or so.
Connect everything - if you're promoting your business, don't forget to provide accurate links, or just pathways to other social media.
Stay friendly - support the accounts you enjoy.
Stay safe - don't ever give away personal details that you aren't comfortable with sharing, such as your address.
To answer the question posed in my title, I think the study community on Instagram has been healthy for me, as well as being a source of motivation and encouragement. That said, it's important to develop a healthy sense of self, and spend time away from social media too. After a year of being stuck close to home, I understand the temptation to become completely absorbed by social media, but remember that all content posted online has been carefully curated to show the best bits, so take it all with a (healthy) pinch of salt.