The Police song “Every Breath You Take” (Sting’s band before he was just Sting) first hit the airwaves in 1983. I was 9, those were the good ole days of cassette tapes, acid wash jeans and fluro-everything.
That lyric “every move you make, every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you” was haunting. Almost stalkerish. The video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMOGaugKpzs) is pretty stalkerish to; and beautiful, with Sting in full 80’s pout as he plays the cello. Wait, what...Sting plays the cello? I guess that escaped nine year old me.
Sting has an ability to pull things off that otherwise would be cringeworthy. There is something about Sting that is so earnest and thoughtful that there is no space for corny to reside. He is so clear about who he is that his mistakes or missteps appear to be on-brand, Sting is almost saying “yeah, this isn’t quite right but you get what I am trying to do here right?”. And we nod.
Like the wonderful Japanese concept of wabi-sabi: beauty that reveals itself from the imperfection.
I was thinking about this song, and Sting, in reference to how we cultivate our personal brand on instagram. Could say Social Media but who are we kidding, Instagram is where it really counts. The likes are easy when you post yourself looking fabulous poolside or in selfie’s at some cool party you just ‘happen’ to be at. The cultivation of the enviable lifestyle “who me? Oh I was born this way baby!”
I started to think about who is watching? For some people the anonymous masses are watching, kudos to you if you have racked up a following that borders on influential. I have a number of friends who get some serious stuff for free because of their following and I love that both for my friends (especially when they share) but it’s a great promotion vehicle for brands and businesses. Advertising in the modern economy, love it.
There are other people watching too. Prospective employers (if they are smart) and hopefully a smattering of actual friends are following you on instagram. Maybe also your clients are following you and likely your work colleagues. Who doesn’t love a little cyber-snooping?
So do you ever think about the impression you are creating with that audience? It may not matter at all but, as with all things in my world, I think it matters that you are conscious of it. I recently discovered yoga_girl on instagram and have fallen quite in love with her (as have 2.1million others) and amid her clear self-promotion she is also promoting love and gratitude and an honesty that I find profound. She is living proof you can be real in this very false medium.
Yoga_girl is intentional with her social media. She knows who she wants to be, she knows how she wants to show up in the world. It’s powerful. And it’s still beautiful and cool and all those things we want from instagram.
We are always being watched. One of the most valuable lessons we can learn, at any age, is to watch ourselves. Watch our steps, watch the moves we make and most importantly watch the bonds we break.
The people around you are always forming or adjusting their opinion of you. Absolutely, a first impression is critical, but your personal brand is massively impacted by your day to day behavior. Whether that is how you act IRL or how you act online.