If your dog has her own Instagram or Facebook profile, no doubt you’ve run into the task of living up to social media expectations. Let’s take a dive into the myth of being ‘Instagram-Perfect’ from the other side…
Ever wonder how those A-listers handle the pressure of being camera-ready, flawless and “on” at all times?
Last week we took a look at the myth of Instagram-Perfect accounts and how we compare ourselves and our dogs to others. We looked at ways to refocus our self-judgment into a positive framework. This week, we’re turning the tables and taking a look at the other side of the equation: the myth of living up to your Instagram image.
So, most of us don’t have “Insta-Famous” dogs…although I know a few of your dogs have a huge following – good for you! But that doesn’t mean you might not have run across the following situations.
Do you remember in the earliest days of Instagram, most of our followers and those we followed were family and friends (“You have an account for your dog???”) who knew us …and loved us anyway! Then we all began discovering and following the accounts of dogs we didn’t know; maybe they were the same breed or maybe they liked to do the same activities.
Before we knew it, we were making connections with dog owners from our own local area. And across the country…and around the world. We didn’t actually know them and might never actually meet them, but because of our cute puppy photos, our world began to get a lot smaller and more intimate.
Meeting Instagramers IRL
So let’s get real. Have any of YOU experienced something similar?
I still remember the day I was out with Chloe. A woman approached me and said, “Are you on Instagram? I think I recognize your dog.”
Talk about feeling like a celebrity!
Chloe was still just a young dog and her account probably had less than 500 followers at that time – but the fact that someone actually recognized her in public was awesome!
I have no memory of what was happening at the time. But I do remember the woman staring at her for a moment and then saying, “She doesn’t look as much like a purebred Aussie as she does in her photos,” and walking away.
Wow. Pretty cold.
When we put ourselves and our dog out there on social media, we instantly become public property. And while most of our followers are kind and supportive, others feel free to criticize our dog. Or us. That’s social media expectations hitting real life.
It’s one thing to encounter the occasional troll on your Instagram or Facebook feed, but it’s a totally different ballgame when you meet a follower in real-time.
It can happen at a dog competition. Or at a dog-friendly patio. Or on the hiking trail. But once you realize Instagram followers have a preconceived notion about your dog, it’s easy to begin the downward spiral of doubting yourself. And your dog.
And if you have a pet-related business or you are representing your dog’s breed to the public, you can feel a bit of paranoia while you’re out and about. The pressure is very real for your dog to be practically-perfect-in-every-way. And for you to be the perfect dog owner, too.
Have you faced this pressure?
Have you started questioning how well you’ve trained your pup? Ever have the feeling of being embarrassed by your dog’s behavior? Maybe you might start looking at your dog with a critical eye. Maybe you compare them to the unrealistic expectations from your social media persona.
Grab the sunglasses and run from the paparazzi!
The truth of the matter is that our dogs AREN’T Instagram-Perfect. And they shouldn’t be expected to be “onstage” at every moment.
So here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re starting to feel the pressure of social media expectations to present four perfect paws to the crowd.
You Can’t Control What Other People Think
Just a fact of life. Your followers have formed opinions about you and your pupper based on what you’ve posted. Ack! The good news is they wouldn’t be your Instagram friends if they didn’t like you! The bad news is, some people are just mean and delight in finding fault.
Stand on your head seven ways to Sunday if you like – it’s impossible to please everyone. Let it go.
No One Is Perfect All of the Time
Even the most well-behaved dog will have moments when they will be, well – dogs! Squirrels happen. Dogs get tired, they get over-stimulated, and they react in unexpected ways.
We’re not immune to that, either. I can’t count the number of times I have messed up, lost my composure or acted in less than a stellar manner while out with Chloe.
So give yourself and your dog a break.
Your Relationship With Your Dog Trumps Other People’s Expectations
No one has the right to demand you meet their expectations. If someone you meet from social media is expecting your dog to do something she is not comfortable with, you owe it to your dog to say no. It doesn’t make you less-than-perfect or tarnish your dog’s image. What it does is strengthen the trust the two of you have developed.
You can’t be all things to all people; but you can be all things to your dog.
Keep in mind : real dog-people will totally get that your dog doesn’t need to be perfect all the time. And those are the best type of followers to have anyway!