Social media has a bad name and has been criticised for everything from damaging users’ confidence to influencing US elections. The use of Instagram, in particular, is considered to be detrimental to young people’s self esteem.
However, the Instagram of selfies in bikinis or leisurewear, and of competitive holidays and home decors, is a world away from the Instagram I know.
A few years ago, I joined Bookstagram, the bookish community on Instagram, and I have found it to be consistently warm, joyful and inclusive. While Twitter can be prickly and defensive, and Facebook offers an exhausting reel of my friend and acquaintance’s life highlights, Bookstagrammers tend comment with enthusiasm and positivity and stick with what they know and love best – books.
I love seeing the pictures of books on users’ feeds, and reading the reviews that accompany them. I have been inspired to read books recommended by other bookstagrammers and enjoy adding my own thoughts on books I have loved or loathed. Sometimes, I just like scrolling through the pictures of covers, as if it was a regularly updated bookcase, with so many gorgeous covers to gaze at.
In a way, Bookstagram is the perfect book club for the introvert – no need to get dressed up and go out to talk about books. The book talk comes directly into my house, onto my couch, where I can join all of the other book obsessives out there … and there are a lot of us.
In fact, that is one of my favourite things about this online community – I can see that there are so many people who love books as much as I do. While they might live next door, in a way they are at my doorstep, seeing they are available on the screen whenever I want to opt in or opt out. I see those from the UK start posting book pics during the morning, and in the US, at other times of the day. Australians prefer to post just after dinner, when uni has finished or the kids are in bed.
This diverse group is a comfort and an inspiration (but without the #inspo). Here, I don’t need to worry about boring my family and friends because everyone else is just as obsessed.
In case you’re thinking of jumping in, here are some of my favourite bookstagrammers: