You are the company you keep.
We all heard this, or something like it, screamed by our moms or dads when we ran out the door on a Friday night in high school, a few last words of wisdom to remind us that whoever we chose to spend our time with was who we would become.
Today (Thank God Instagram was not around when I was in high school) this same mantra can be applied to social media. Just as you are the company you keep in your personal life, you are also the people you surround yourself with on social media. If you spend your time scrolling through a sea of negativity, your brain replicates that and becomes a place of negativity.
Virginia Beard, who recently appeared on Side Hustle, gave some great advice when describing her approach to social media and how you should essentially protect yourself online from those people whose accounts steal your happiness and sap your spirit:
“Unfollow people on social media who make you feel like you aren’t doing enough or aren’t cool enough or aren’t fill-in-the-blank enough. You’re awesome and your work matters, so don’t let Instagram make you think differently about your work.”
I looked through my own social media feed to see who I rely on to provide a much-needed defense against the intrusion of what I call “happy snatchers,” the people or things online that just don’t make me feel better about myself.
Here are eleven accounts whose online presence I seek out daily for affirmation, beauty, joy, inspiration, knowledge, and a healthy dose of inappropriate humor (which sometimes is needed above all else).
- Humans of New York– By now you have most likely heard of and follow this Instagram account, but I’m not sure there is a better representation of real life than through the lens of this guy’s camera. His posts force you to look up and look into the eyes of the strangers whose lives are swirling around you, providing a unique opportunity to share in the joy, pain, sorrow, happiness, uncertainty, grief, and hope that is the human experience.
- Ashley Longshore– An artist in New Orleans who is here to break the mold, Ashley Longshore may offend some with her crude humor and outrageous videos but to me she showcases so much pure authenticity that you can’t help but love her. Her art is as wild, bold, bright, and fabulous as she is, and we both happen to be born-and-bred Alabama girls with an Ole Miss past (I loved it; she hated it) and a New Orleans present, so I like to think we are cut from the same-ish cloth.
- Bourgeois Bohemianism– No idea when, where, or how I got addicted to this Tumblr account, but the owner dishes out the most beautiful images, words, songs, and art that always seem to hold hands with my heart. Going to her page is like visiting an old friend who just gets me. The layout of her page inspired the layout for Side Hustle, so in more ways than one she has been my muse.
- When to Jump– This book inspired a lot of the momentum and spirit behind Side Hustle (do me a solid and buy it at your local bookstore instead of Amazon), and their Instagram account is a great reminder of all of the incredible stories that flow from people who took a risk to jump from solid stability to shaky uncertainty all in the name of passion.
- The Player’s Tribune– As a former athlete and sports aficionado, this platform speaks to my sixteen-year-old, professional athlete-aspiring (haha V, you funny and too short) self and provides a unique glimpse into the hearts and minds of these incredibly talented people and tells their stories the way they should be told: by the athletes themselves. On a scale of 1 to Kleenex box, tissues are required. Click here for the one I have not been able to get out of my mind lately, which makes sense if you read my last post.
- Stone Fox Bride– Another Instagram account that mysteriously became part of my life a few years ago, the Stone Fox Bride is what contemporary wedding dreams are made of. I stand in awe of founder and creative director, Molly Rosenguy, who will literally grab your soul from your chest and make it come alive with the raw emotion that drives this platform way above average bridal material to must-read advice on life.
- The Fat Jewish– One of the original low-brow humor accounts I was introduced to on Instagram, the Fat Jewish is still one of my favorites for a cheap laugh. If we’re friends, I have probably tagged you in these posts on Instagram hundreds of times, and I am still ROTFL about it. Here is my favorite one to date.
- The Skimm– I do not like the news, never have and most likely never will. But the Skimm has changed the news for me. They make it relatable, they make it funny, they make it understandable, and most impressively, they make it feminine. I can’t decide if I consider the ladies behind the Skimm to be my good friends or my idols, and I think that’s a good thing.
- Southern Living– I feel like this is a little (okay, a lot) cliche for a girl from the South, but the photos and stories they share are of so many places that are close to my heart. The rush of happy memories when I see Charleston, South Carolina, Fairhope, Alabama, or Oxford, Mississippi is like riding an endorphin wave.
- Poets & Writers– I’ve had this magazine delivered in the mail for years—it’s always one of the first things I remember to take care of when I change addresses. Their Instagram account highlights certain passages from the magazine that are especially moving, but the best part is the recordings of authors reading excerpts from their books. There is something so surreal about hearing an author read their own words aloud—the intonation, the rhythm, the pace, all as they were intended to be by the person who created them.
- Mommas Gone City– I started following this account when owner Jessica Shyba’s son developed an impossibly cute napping routine with their family rescue dog. Since then she has had two more baby girls, and Theo the rescue dog has continued to be the real-life Nanna from Peter Pan that we all loved and adored. I also could not respect this woman more for the way she is raising her five children to love, respect, and fight for their fellow human beings. Well done, momma.
While these are just a few of the accounts I admire, I also draw endless inspiration from those featured on this site as well. I hope Side Hustle will always remain a constant source of inspiration, encouragement, and community for those who come across it, as well as a reliable window for those seeking a little sunshine on the Internet. And if it fails at either, I hope we can work together to change that.
The next time you pick up your phone or your computer to hop into the world of social media, choose to surround yourself with positivity, joy, humor, beauty, and support. Ditch the judgement, ego, greed, jealousy, and silly comparisons. Ain’t nobody got time for that.