I am always curious, almost as an anthropological phenomenon, about the rules and customs that every little sub-culture has. Whether it’s a TV show fandom or craft enthusiasts or any other group that shares a common interest, I love that there’s a whole different vocabulary that people on the inside use to talk with one another. And in the Internet Age, I find it interesting “where” people hang out and the personalities of different social media outlets.
For a while, Flickr was the place to be for the quilting community. Non-quilters always looked at me funny when I told them that, but I thought it was a pretty ideal match of community and tool. Obviously it was photo-based, which is critical in this setting. But there were groups where you could share with people who liked the same style of quilt block or fabric designer, where it was easy to facilitate a swap or a bee while keeping things relatively compartmentalized.
In the two years that I was basically absent from the quilting (and blogging) scene, Instagram really took off. I’m a big fan of Instagram and use it all the time, but I find it interesting that it seems to have replaced Flickr as the preferred social media platform in the quilting community.
Certainly I understand it as the instant social sharing of what we’re sewing at any given point in time. And really, I suppose you just go to where people are. We’re on our phones, and on Instagram, all the damn time. We’re ultimately a bit lazy so why would we take the extra step to go over to Flickr? (Plus, their app is really not great, and I don’t like their new web layout in general.) So if you’re someone who is trying to get a swap or a bee going, you’re going to find people on Instagram. Believe me, I’m including myself in this ever-increasing instant-gratification-fueled laziness. But I do sort of bemoan the loss of the Flickr functionality.
Maybe I just like compartmentalizing. I didn’t start my social media life with my identity being that of a Quilter. I was in more general friend/parenting circles, and then started to write/post more about quilting. But I set up a separate blog for that, because it was more of a niche topic, and I liked that many of the semi-public conversations I had about quilting were either here or on Flickr. It wasn’t clogging the feeds of my non-crafty friends. And even within Flickr, I could further categorize posts and conversations within individual swaps or bees or Heather Ross enthusiasts or whatever.
I guess that’s why I don’t love Instagram as the primary platform for social sewing. It makes me more self-conscious about how frequently I post, because I know a significant portion of my followers, if not a vast majority, are NOT quilters and may not be interested in my progress on a particular block. Whereas when I was posting in groups on Flickr, there was more of a chance the audience there would be interested in four different pictures of the same quilt. And what if I’m keeping up with multiple swaps? It’s all in one feed and that bugs me.
But hey, this is where the community is going, so I shall go along with them instead of camping out by myself on Flickr, grumbling about the good old days and shouting at the young people to get off my lawn.
I’m hip. I’m with it. I joined a swap on Instagram. Apologies to my random high school friends for the increasing frequency of fabric-based posts.