All photos are copyright Markus Eriksson; http://themarcus.com/
Last March, I started posting more seriously (the goal is to post daily; that doesn’t always happen) on my Instagram. It was part of a broader marketing strategy for West Coast Flying Trapeze — instead of relying solely on WCFT social media accounts to drive traffic (as far as actions directly under my control go, anyway; we always encourage students to share on their own accounts), I thought I could build a following of my own, and since the feed would be mostly photographed/filmed at the school anyway, we would gain additional exposure.
So here we are, almost a year later, and I would say that the strategy has been, for the most part, successful. I’m posting almost daily on both accounts, and have increased the following on my personal account by almost 1100 people. That number simultaneously blows me away (who are all these people who are interested in me? I have almost double the followers on Instagram than I do “friends” on Facebook), and depresses me (my contortion coach has 182 thousand followers. At my current rate of increase, I’ll need 3 lifetimes to catch up).
But, if I do my best not to just obsess over the numbers (and it’s really, really hard not to), some other pretty cool things have happened. Last April, I was contacted by a local personal trainer (and ex-CFL athlete) who asked me to be part of a fitness photoshoot. I didn’t think I was good enough, or pretty enough, or athletic enough, or famous enough, so I figured it was fake. The second photographer had to contact me as well (through this blog!) before I took it seriously — and even then, their team had to let me bring Chris with me to the shoot, because I was still convinced I was going to get murdered in a warehouse. But I’m so grateful they didn’t write me off for being difficult. As someone who only really does circus as a side hustle (hah), it was one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve ever had.
Marcus Eriksson has photographed Serena Williams, the Sedin twins, Tom Brady, LeBron James, countless other famous, professional athletes… and me. One of these things is not like the others. And yet, on Marcus’s instagram, there I am, right next to Carson Wentz and Aaron Judge.
I am so proud of and thankful for these photos and this experience. I want everyone to know it happened… but I also don’t want to come off as a narcissist. And that’s where I come full circle with my mixed feelings about social media.
The entire purpose of my account is to promote myself. What I’m doing, where I’m doing it, and who I’m doing it with. The goal is to inspire others, and also tell them that this shit is hard, so don’t give up. And yes, I want things out of it. I want more performance gigs, more modeling opportunities, and more followers. I want more students signing up for my classes at the gym, and I want to keep pushing myself to get stronger and bendier and learn new skills.
But I also feel a not-insignificant amount of guilt and shame over that. I feel like such a self-obsessed loser video-ing myself all the time (I often qualify it by saying I’m just filming just so I can see what I look like… but since all those videos later end up on Instagram, I’m sure I’m fooling no one) and offering myself up as a model for photographers trying to build their portfolios. I worry that I will seem uncool by being so excited about being added to Aerial Hoop Tricks’s Dictionary Project, or featured on the Vancouver Fitness page. I wonder if it gets any easier to be so self-centred on social media as your following increases. I wonder if anyone cares.
Obviously I don’t have answers to any of that. I just have a large amount of internal conflict, a bunch of training videos on my phone, and now, an awesome set of photos of myself on aerial hoop by Marcus Eriksson.
So I’ll just muddle on from here.
P.S. Want to boost my dopamine? Check out my Instagram page, and maybe give me a follow.