It all started with Instagram.
As my youngest started college, I decided it was now time for me to branch out more and try to build my career further, in part through an increased online presence. I had known about Instagram for years, and I decided to finally join. When I asked my daughter for help, she laughed. “Just go into your phone, click on the Instagram app and make an account.” I turned my refurbished iPhone 4s sideways and upside down and searched all the screens, but still could not find this “Instagram app” anywhere. I decided to try going directly to the site using my online browser. I made an account. Success!
Not really. It was then I found out I could only *use* Instagram if I had the proper app, which needed to be downloaded. After multiple confusing attempts, I realized that my Dell computer was not of the appropriate technology. But if I went into the Apple store on my phone, I could download the iOS version of the app.
I needed help. Again, my daughter laughed. She helped me set up an Apple account, and together we found the right Instagram app and downloaded it…only to find out that my IPhone 4s was too old and would not support the app. My phone was useless when it came to Instagram.
I gave up using my phone, but I tried again on my computer. I found an Instagram app in the Microsoft store and began using it. I figured out how to upload pictures, though it was a real pain taking pics with my phone, emailing them to myself, downloading them, moving them to the cameral roll, then uploading into Instagram. I began to wonder if this effort was worth it.
I sat down with a young friend of mine to discuss how I could increase my online presence. He really knows his stuff. The first thing he brought up was Instagram. “You really need an Instagram account,” he said. He was very pleased to learn I already had one, and then started to explain to me IGTV and how I could upload videos to Instagram. Huh? He told me to use my phone. I explained the problem with the phone. He laughed. He told me where to look in the app on my computer. But, no, I couldn’t find it. I could *make* videos there but I had no uploading capability. It is just NOT THERE.
I am too busy for all this social media stuff. Don’t you know? I need Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the list goes on. Some things I have never heard of. I was starting to get frustrated about the amount of time it was taking me just to upload a pic to Instagram and again wondered if it was worth it. But everywhere I look, I learn this is the way to build a business. Like it or not, I am my own business. (It is hard to think of creative work as business, but it is what it is.)
My computer was so sluggish, and my husband was concerned about how well it was working. The computer technician, instead of fixing it up with more memory, suggested that I get a more powerful computer instead. So I did. And I went through the process of downloading an Instagram app to the new computer. Except this time, it didn’t work! I mean, I could look at everyone else’s posts, and I could do some things with video, but now I couldn’t even upload a picture.
In the meantime, I learned about some social media management sites that could save me some time. So I signed up for a couple of free trials. Both had problems with Instagram on my computer. I tried downloading the app for the first company onto my phone, but it didn’t work. The second company let me log into everything easily, and I could even send pics to Instagram through the management site. BUT, I first had to switch my Instagram account to a business account. How do I do that? Through my PHONE. I guess I will try borrowing my daughter’s phone later so I can sign into my account using her technology.
The problem is not just Instagram. Every new update of operating systems renders some software obsolete. I have lost many family recipes because I had them stored digitally in a program two computers ago that could not be accessed in my new computer. I am constantly having to buy software upgrades to match the new operating system. And then when I buy a new computer, I am at risk that the printer will no longer work. More than once, we have had to change EVERYTHING when one part changes. New computer, new printer, new modem and router. And that’s just when one family member gets a new laptop!
Why do the tech companies get to do this? Imagine if, when the government declared that no more incandescent lightbulbs could be made, the manufacturers changed the ends and how they attached to lights. Then, not only would you be forced to buy the new light bulbs, but you would be forced to buy new lamps to hold those lightbulbs. Now, imagine that all the new lights had different plugs. Now you have to get all new outlets for the walls. Or what if all the lights now required a different voltage? Now you have to hire an electrician to come in and change your wiring, and you have to get a building inspector to come and approve it. That is what the changes in technology are like.
My husband and I are not poor, but it is important to us to pinch our pennies. For financial and environmental reasons, we buy used as often as possible. When our very old phones died, we upgraded to the refurbished iPhone 4s. Two phones and all the accoutrements set us back $100. I don’t need anything fancy and don’t have any problems except for Instagram. But the networks constantly change and may render more of my phone capabilities obsolete. Then, I would be forced once again to spend money to upgrade to a phone that will do what I need it to.
I work completely independently as a freelancer. I contract individually with ensembles and musicians. I teach privately and not through an academic institution. I need an online presence to connect with people outside my immediate circles. The internet is supposed to help me build my business, right? However, it seems the only ones who can truly benefit are the businesses big enough to pay to constantly upgrade.