I know so many people who have 800 or so followers on Instagram, I also know that they have only met about 50 of those people in person. Having a bunch of people who I don’t know look at my photos makes me uncomfortable, but I feel bad if I only have 50 followers when everyone else has hundreds, any suggestions?

You are doing a wonderful job of listening to your conscious (that inner voice/gut feeling) and allowing it to direct you away from sharing your pictures with complete strangers online. Feeling pressure to collect Followers and post the way your friends are posting is natural, but it doesn’t have to be, especially as it makes you feel uncomfortable and would compromise your values and privacy.

Having a public Instagram account, or another one where you give permission to allow anyone  to follow you, is similar to showing your photos on a roadside billboard. While this can be a good marketing tactic, and indeed, many brands and celebrity personalities use this approach, as an individual you can and should value your independence and privacy and not feel the need to market yourself to others.

Instead of feeling bad, feel glad that you are choosing to use Instagram the way you want to use it – as a way of further connecting you with people you already know in real life (IRL), and potentially deepening those relationships. As with all social media, it is important to ask yourself, “What is the purpose of using this tool?” It sounds like your reason is to share parts of your life with people you trust and care about. Using Instagram  in this way allows you the freedom to select your Followers based on the quality of your relationship to them which is actually the healthiest approach you can take.

For more information on the risks, benefits and ways to use social media healthfully, please visit the Center on Media and Child Health’s social media page: http://cmch.tv/parents/social-media/