Monday, September 12, 2016

The Dark Side of Instagram

Hello friends.  I usually try to keep things happy and cheerful on my blog, but I have something to say.  I've actually wanted to say it for a few months now, but I wasn't sure if I should.  However, since this is my safe space, I've decided that I'm going to.

I've been holding back on many months of thought.  I literally started typing it back this winter/spring, with the intention of posting it in March or April.  Then, I hesitated to hit publish.  After a few recent events, I've decided it's time.  In fact, my thoughts have become so many that I've decided to separate them into a few posts.  If you come here for your daily dose of happy, these next few days aren't for you.  Or, if you simply aren't interested in what I have to say, I understand.  Thank you for allowing me a platform to express myself.  We can re-group when I'm back to my happy go lucky self!

Still here?  Ok, let's dive in.  In the past, I've told you all how much I love Instagram.  I stand by that, and it's still my current favorite social media platform.  That being said, don't be fooled by appearances; there is definitely a dark side.

Overall, the Disney community on Instagram is fun, friendly, supportive and full of wonderful pictures of the magical lands we all know and love.  It's a great way to feel like you're at the parks even when you aren't.  In fact, there are accounts for Disney merchandise, ducks, mugs, walls, and even the Magic Kingdom "hub grass".

There is a wonderful community of makers: people who make products related to Disney.  I've discovered many products- from t-shirts, to scarves, mouse ears, jewelry, shoes, painted products, buttons, candles and even bath bombs.  There is so much creativity!  It's incredible to see all of the designs inspired by something we all love.

Despite that, there's also a lot of negativity in that community.  I've seen many examples of behavior that is not becoming of the Disney community: being catty, copying ideas, stealing photos, spiteful comments, and uncalled for hashtags.

I'm happy go lucky.  I come from a love and embrace everyone mentality.  Seeing some of the things I've seen over the past few months is disturbing to me.

I think a lot of it stems from the thought that we're all in competition with each other.  I get it. I run a Disney related business too.  I think we sometimes forget that there's room for everyone's ideas and creativity.  We live in a DIY society with websites and apps like Pinterest that encourage a do-it-yourself lifestyle.

When we're all using the exact same characters, movies, attractions and themes as our inspiration, there's bound to be some overlap.  There are only so many licensed Disney fabrics out there.  I've felt frustration when someone has used a fabric or design similar to something I've wanted to do.  I've seen people outright attack other shops on Instagram because their friend was the first to create a design using that fabric.  Newsflash: if JoAnn Fabrics or some other national retailer sells that Disney fabric, you aren't going to be the only ear maker that's going to purchase that fabric.

I've been looking into more fabrics recently.  Most of the fabrics available at online retailers are already being used by other ear makers.  I've tried to stay away from it since there's too much drama about people stealing others' ideas- when they're really just using the same fabric the general public has access to.  

Instead, I've tried to look elsewhere.  This spring, I happened to come across custom printed fabrics online, and I jumped at the chance to get them!  They were different and I hadn't seen anyone else making ears from them!  Flash forward to now: one of the most popular ear makers on Instagram has the same fabric, and she's already sold out of that design.  If I were to make ears from that fabric now, I'll be "copying" her.

This spring, I ordered a few yards of this Disney Princess fabric.  I was immediately attracted to this fabric as soon as I saw it online.  I love the hues of pink and how it's a sketched design.  I was really excited that Jasmine was included!  I'm hoping to make myself a skirt and scarf with it.  Of course, there's plenty of fabric left over for some mouse ears, but I won't be making any to sell.  (Seriously: search "Disney Princess Sketch Ears" on Etsy.  I just found 9 different shops selling some variation of them.)

I just wish everyone would acknowledge that we're all working with the supplies and tools available to use.  Nevertheless, in some cases, there are people outright stealing other shops designs.  I've even seen a few times where someone has stolen another account's photo and trying to pass the work off as their own.  This is not ok.

I've also seen products that are eerily similar to others' designs.  When compared side to side, they're almost identical.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I admit that it's sometimes hard to tell whether someone was inspired by the same Disney character, movie, ride, etc, or if they were "inspired" by someone else's design.  They say that copying is a form of flattery- maybe it was back when we were in middle school.

There are cases in which we do inspire each other.  I can't tell you how many ideas I've had while scrolling through my Instagram feed.  That's probably why I love this platform so much.  Seeing everyone's creativity really inspires me.  It inspires me to try harder, to look at things from a different angle, to push the boundaries.  In some cases, it has given me a direct idea similar to what I've seen.  But I have never outright copied someone's design for my business and personal profit.  And I never will.

And let's all be honest: anyone who is crafty has at one point said, "Oh, that's really cool.  I bet I could make that for myself."  We all probably have differing opinions on this topic, and that's ok.  My personal thought is that if someone wants to copy something I've made for their own personal use, who am I to stop them?

Anyways, let me get to my point.  Disney inspired makers: we are a part of the overall Disney community.  People are watching us and observing our behavior, whether we realize it or not.  Our "small world" has gotten even smaller with a social media driven market and lifestyle.  Disney stands for love, friendship, magic and happiness.  Let's make the Disney Instagram community spread a little bit more faith, trust and pixie dust to our fellow fans.  Despite our differences, we're all in the business of helping to make everyone's experience the best day ever.  °o°

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