Some tips I picked up when I started a new Instagram account

 

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About a week and a half ago, I was fed up with the amount of photos I had with no one to show them to! It all sounds a bit shallow, but when one thinks about it, isn’t that why we take photos? I was there. I don’t really need a refresher on what happened, though I suppose it is nice to have one.

No. We take photos to show to people. That’s why Instagram is so popular.

I’m leaving out everyone’s burning desire for fame, recognition and for someone to tell them they actually matter. But it definitely plays a part.

I started a new instagram account where I posted all sorts of pictures I, and my girlfriend, had taken over the years. Weird photos, fun photos, photos of walls that were interesting, or deflated soccer balls.

Within four days of starting it, I had a hundred followers.

I suck at Instagram. I’m positively horrible at it. It took me the better part of four years to have just under 200 followers on my personal account.

But there I was with just over a hundred followers, none of which I knew. (And only one with the name free_instagram_followers.)

Here is everything I did, laid out in steps.

Step 1:

Have good photos. I’m not going to lie, this whole idea might be a bit of downer if you have piss-poor photos. The unfortunate thing is, bots aside, people like good photos. The good thing is, taking good photos is easy! Sometimes. Most of mine are real stinkers.

I’m not going to google it for you, but there are plenty of 5-step tutorials on becoming a better photographer. My only advice is, if the photo sucks, get closer.

Step 2:

Use those hashtags. I see many, many people not using hashtags correctly. To give you an example, I follow two photographers. Let’s call them P1 and P2.

P1 is a more technically talented photographer, with a better eye for capturing the scene. P1 is a globally renown photographer and uses little, if any, after effects.

P2 sets up their scene in a very posed way, and spends hours in Lightroom to achieve specific effects. Outside of Instagram, P2 has no gallery shows that I have heard seen.

In an art show, or a gallery, P1 would probably sell their work quicker than P2.

Instagram is not a gallery. Instagram is a game of “How many people can I get to see my work and how soon?” It’s a game of hashtags.

P1 uses few, if any hashtags. One of their regular hashtags is their own name. This is a total and complete waste of time. We already know it’s you. Instagram’s algorithm knows it’s you.

P2 uses all 30 hashtags available, including tagging her location, which is essentially a free hashtag.

P2 has more than 15 times the followers than P1.

Here’s the rules:

Use all 30 hashtags. Tag your location, or the location the picture was taken. Vary your hashtags. Instagram doesn’t like it when you constantly use the same copy+pasted hashtags. They will start to treat you as spam, and ignore you. Change it up. Put in the legwork. If you take a picture of a soccer ball, find out the most used soccer hashtags.

Step 3:

Finesse your description. Do you know where it has your name in bold? Replace it. Unless someone is specifically searching for you (and in my experience, it is someone you would have told your Instagram handle to) no one will look up your name. They will look up things they are interested in, My “name” says Travel | Writer | Photographer. Why “Travel” instead of “Traveler?”

Because no one would search for a “Traveler Writer,” they would search for a “Travel Writer.”

Step 4:

This is a pretty hit or miss step, but why not try it?

Use Reddit.com/r/instagram. On Fridays they have a follow chain. You post your account, and tell everyone a little bit about your photos. I went from 20 to around 50 the first time I posted. I also follow back to anyone who messages me and tells me where they’re from, whether Reddit or Medium.

These might all be pretty simple steps, ones you could easily figure out. But, if it helps, it makes me happy!

If you want to check out my Instagram, I’m @saintbeano.

Since when did “Immigrant” mean “Illegal Immigrant?”


A few days ago I re-posted a painting someone did that had the words “A Nation of Immigrants” to my professional Instagram page. It’s technically correct, and not very offensive. (As a brief aside, I try to avoid anything that goes out of it’s way to offend people. Easier to make enemies, but better to make friends.)

Someone with the last name “Garcia” commented “You are illegally here. Why do you keep asking for stuff. You act so entitled.”

Allow me to break this down for a quick second.

First, she has no idea who I am. My personal and professional accounts aren’t linked. So she is assuming I’m an immigrant, and since she said “illegally here” she assumes I’m an illegal immigrant.

Second, she asks/states “Why do you keep asking for stuff.” I would like to point out the picture asks for nothing, and since this was recently after Trump’s announcement to end DACA, the only thing people were asking for was to not be dragged from their homes and sent to a country they never knew.

And of course, third, I act entitled.

So let’s find out what “entitled” means.

Entitled: believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

I’m not so sure, Garcia. Let’s break it down with your assumption that I am an illegal immigrant.

Would I think I’m inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment? Or maybe, just maybe, enough movies, tv shows, songs and books make America seem like the greatest place on Earth. The amount of propaganda, of stories from uncles and aunts who had gone to America and returned with wealth, just the vast amount of information and misinformation that floods out of this country everyday. That’s why people come here. They don’t inherently think they deserve to be American, we make them think they do.

But I am American. And I’m not some entitled idiot running around talking about how America is the greatest country on Earth.

Honestly, it’s a bit shit sometimes. We elect back asswards leaders, we seem to have a collective death wish, often times the saner, smarter voices are drowned out by bloated, fear-spouting, poor excuses for journalists on TV.

I was born here, I’m a fifth-generation American. I got so god damned lucky. White, male and American? Are you serious? This is the fucking jackpot, the one that people either awkwardly avoid or criminalize. I had no choice on how I look, or where I was born.

But since I became American by luck, why shouldn’t I try and help those who want to put in the hard work?

In a world of anonymity and online personas, we would happily take the time out of our day to accuse someone of begging and entitlement, in order to degrade them. What does this say about our America?

My post was mostly an attempt to spread someone’s work, and promote the idea of love and acceptance. Someone felt the need to speak against that.

If you stand against love and acceptance, I don’t have to wonder if I’m fighting for the right side.


Lost in Thought (A Short Story)

James stared out the car window, drawing shapes on the condensation collecting inside.

“Doin’ okay there, sport?” His father, in the driver’s seat next to him, asked. He liked to call James “sport” or “pal.” Even “kiddo.” It didn’t matter that James was twenty-seven and had lived alone for the better part of ten years.

“Yeah, Dad. Doing okay.” James said, somewhere between sarcasm and honesty. Even he couldn’t decide how he felt.

“Wanna talk about it?” His dad offered.

James focused on the fish he was drawing, adding squiggles for water and sharp angles for scales.

“Yeah. No. Not now, at least.”

His father nodded, understanding. Flicking the directional downwards, James’s father made a right turn. A horn blared from behind their car.

“Where are we going?” James looked up from his window masterpiece.

“Remember when you and I would go out for the afternoon and run by Cheekies on the way home? And your mom never found out because I wouldn’t let us leave until you finished everything? Hah! She would have been pissed to see a milkshake cup in the trash.” His father smiled a half-smile.

“And you want to go again now?” James questioned him.

“Yes.” His father answered, pulling into an empty parking lot.

James opened his door and stood up, stretching. Looking at the sky, he squinted. It always seemed to rain on the day funerals were held. Never a tree-snapping thunderstorm, but a dreary pitter-patter of rain.

They walked up to the order window and stood in the bright white light of the food display board.

“Number seven with a vanilla milkshake?” James’s father asked, smiling slightly as if it were an old joke.

“C’mon Dad, you know I’m vegan now.”

“Your choice.” His dad turned to the order window and waited patiently for a server to come. He didn’t wait long.

“Welcome to Cheekies, what do you want?” The lady asked, after opening the window.

“One number seven with a chocolate milkshake.” James’s father ordered.

“One number seven with a chocolate milkshake. Will that be all?” The lady asked.

James’s father looked to James, and James waved away his chance to order.

“That’ll be all, then.” James’s father handed over his card. After a few beats, she handed it back with a receipt.

“Your food will be out shortly.” She said, and closed the window.

James and his father stood in silence under the awning, watching as cars did their stop-and-go dance through the drive-thru.

Finally, the window opened and a young man with acne pushed the food towards them, and closed the window again without a word.

“Should we sit out here?” James’s father asked.

“Dad, it’s raining.” James said.

“They have umbrellas.” His father responded.

“And this is a two-thousand dollar jacket.” James held his lapels.

His father shrugged and stood there with his white food bag getting increasingly more transparent.

James shook his head and walked back to the car with his father in tow.

Once they were situated comfortably, James’s father opened his paper bag and reached down, pulling out a fry.

“Are you going to eat here? In the parking lot?” James questioned him, despite the fact he was obviously eating in the parking lot.

“We don’t get to talk anymore, kiddo. I think we should talk.” His father replied, ignoring James’s question.

“Fine. What do you want to talk about?” James snapped.

“Am I wrong in thinking we used to be friends?” James’s father asked,

James paused, then responded. “No, Dad. We used to be close.”

“Then what happened to us? Because for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it was.” James’s father asked, putting the bag of food on the dashboard.

“Can I ask you a question?” James countered.

“Sure, pal.”

“When did you stop loving my mom?”

James’s father looked at James in something bordering on shock and curiosity. “What makes you say I stopped loving her?”

“Dad?” James asked.

“Yeah?”

“Can you not treat me like a child? Believe it or not, I did grow up somewhere between turning fifteen and turning twenty-five.”

“Fair enough, James. You want this to be a man-to-man talk?”

“No. I want it to be a father-to-son talk.”

James’s father turned away, nodding a few times. “I have never stopped loving your mother. However, you’re right in a way. We were no longer in love with each other.”
“How?” James asked. “People don’t just fall out of love.”

“Don’t they? People fall in love pretty easily. Sometimes it only takes a few minutes or the cost of a drink. Sometimes it’s a more drawn out affair. But in the end, falling in love usually happens quickly.”

“So you just fell out of love with Mom?”

James’s father rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. “We were moving in different directions. It sounds like such a joke, doesn’t it?” James’s father smiled at James but James didn’t return the gesture. There were tears in James’s eyes.

“It happened four years ago.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” James asked.

“You were stressed enough.” James’s father answered simply.

“And you guys didn’t get a divorce? Go your separate ways, or whatever?”

“We couldn’t. We just found out she was sick.”

“And now she’s dead. Is that why you didn’t cry at the funeral? Because you’re finally free?”

“Is that what you think?” James’s father snapped. “You think I’m happy that I just buried your mother?”

“Well you don’t seem too beaten up at the fact.” James tried to lash out but he started to realize he just took a step in the wrong direction. He let his anger dictate his words.

“How old are you, James? Twenty-seven?” His father asked, all traces of friendship gone. “What do you know of the world? Do you know the last time I heard from you before I called you a week ago telling you your mother died? A year ago. You called me to ask for money, money that your mother needed.”

“Then why even give it to me?” James interrupted. “If Mom needed it so badly, why would you lend me the money?”

“Your mother wanted me to. She believed in what you were doing, even if I didn’t.”

“And now you blame me for it?”

“Jesus Christ! Do you ever listen? I have never once blamed you for asking for money. And after everything your mother did for you, you didn’t even visit. Not once that I can remember.”

“I know you don’t, Dad.” James sounded defeated.

“So where were you when she would spit and swear because she knew her sentences didn’t make sense? Where were you to help her bathe, and to dress her?” James’s father spit out every word. “And where were you when she forgot who you were? Or where and when she was?” He whispered. “Where were you?”

“I’m sorry, Dad.” James said.

“Me too, James. Me too. You know, she was looking for you at the end. She asked for her little Jamison. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth. She thought you were in the kitchen. Or the living room. That you just stepped out. At the end, I think she knew. I think she knew you were gone.”

“I get it! You don’t think I’m a good son. You have made that perfectly clear, so clear in fact, that you were ready to step out of our lives if Mom hadn’t gotten sick.”

“When did you get so self-centered and ignorant?” James’s father erupted.

“Is that what you think I am?” James asked. “An egotistical prick that cares only about himself?”

“You haven’t shown me you aren’t. Maybe it’s because you’re young, or maybe you’ve lived away for too long, but you’ve become a poor excuse for a son. I hope that by the time you’re my age, you’ll have some more respect for those who have given you everything they didn’t have.” James’s father opened the car door and walked to the trashcan, without bothering to hunch over to protect himself from the rain. With a contemptuous toss, he threw away his number seven (minus one fry) and chocolate milkshake.

James sat in the car, wiping away the fish and water. They would go back to their home in Mastic Beach, and James would go upstairs to bed. And when he woke up, his father would be at the kitchen table crying over his youngest son who didn’t live there anymore. And James would tell him, “I live upstairs Dad. I moved back in two years ago to take care of you and mom.”

And when the day after tomorrow came, he would repeat it all over again.

Joe Arpaio embodies Trump Supporters

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It’s as if every bit of good news comes with a healthy dose of bad.

Gorka was forced out, or resigned, from his position at the White House. The singing in the street was quickly silenced by the pardoning of former sheriff, Joe Arpaio.

If you care to read a list of his numerous human rights violation, feel free! It was the list that kept on giving, in the worst of ways. Self-described concentration camps, racial bias and profiling, and forcing inmates to eat spoiled or rotten food. As humans, we can agree on very few things. The fact that this man deserved to spend the rest of his short life in prison was one of them.


When you’re growing up, you tend to see things in black and white. Good and bad. Murder bad; charity good. As we grow up, things tend to grow a bit more hazy, and less white or black. Murder is bad, but what if you murder someone who was about to do something horrible? Charity is good, but what if that charity was only created to line the pockets of someone already rich?

These anchored ideals start to loosen a bit. We start to see things from a perspective that can’t afford to be black and white.

However, we all live under the impression that we can agree on certain things. Torturing children isn’t good. Using kittens as baseballs is a no-no. Things like this.

So when a man like Arpaio is pardoned for some truly heinous acts, it’s not the pardon itself that affects me. It’s the support of him that does.

“Served with him, he’s a good man. This is just another conspiracy orchestrated by Obama.”

That was one of the many responses I read. It makes me start to question the sanity of people. Not just those who support Arpaio, but everyone involved. The ones who helped Arpaio, the ones who covered it up, the ones who saw no harm in it, because, after all, “they were only immigrants.”

Trump tweeted out on Friday night:

I am pleased to inform you that I have just granted a full Pardon to 85 year old American patriot Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He kept Arizona safe!

The word “patriot” should not be used to describe someone who is the exact opposite. Loving your country generally requires an understanding of where one came from. We are a country that is built on the back of immigrants. The very people who forged our laws from a desire to be different, a desire to live free from tyranny, were immigrants or descended from them.

To abuse human beings isn’t patriotism, Mister President. To imprison immigrants isn’t protecting our country, Mister President.

I may not be an immigrant, but I am descended from immigrants.

I come from people who worked their asses off to put me where I am today. I wouldn’t think twice about extending that same courtesy to anyone who needed it, and the fact that some people oppose immigrants only serves to reinforce the notion that some people have a short memory.

I am proud to be descended from immigrants.

We are all immigrants.

(IM)MIGRANT.

What I learned from my first Etsy Sale

I’ve made sales before, and I’ve made Etsy sales before. But those were to family members, or friends.

In total, I’ve had about 4 Etsy shops. Each selling something different, whether it be some of the neat vintage pieces I’ve collected or paintings. At the end of the day, I couldn’t get my product in front of people. I tried promoted listings to no avail. Either my things sucked (completely reasonable) or they simply weren’t being seen.

A month ago, or so, I made a new shop. I had been playing around with a play on words for a while and made a shirt. I made the shirt on Printful, and while setting up Shipstation (the program you have to use to link up Etsy and Printful, at the time) I got an email from Printful saying they are now able to be intergrated into an Etsy shop.

Were those hymns and harps I heard?

I synced it up, added the shirts, and waited. And waited.

Nothing happened. And why would it? I showed up to fish but I expected the fish to jump into my arms, grateful to be caught.

I did what most people do and took out ads on Etsy, called “Promoted Listings.”

A week later I had my first sale. 10:40am I get the email saying someone’s purchased was approved.

It was a measly $15, but dammit, it was $15 I spent hours trying to earn. Elated, I ran through the house shouting and hollering.

There’s a sense of relief when you sell something. I didn’t know that. I assumed it would be all very English. “Very good, very good. Yes, money to me, shirt to you. Yes, yes.” But I was relieved! Excited!

Someone saw something I made and said “Yo, that looks pretty dope. I’ll buy it.” (Maybe it was more of an “Oh. Neat.”) Either way, that was it! The first step to success!

The next day I was a bit more depressed. The orders didn’t come flooding in all of the sudden. The amount spent on promoted listings tipped above the amount of revenue I made.

This was an addiction, wasn’t it? Sure, I wasn’t physically taking anything, but I was addicted. I wanted people to like what I made. I spent time and energy, and I wanted to be rewarded by people’s adoration.

On a miniscule level, I understood Youtubers. That need to be seen, to be heard, to have their voice be the one that stands out in a sea of billions.

That got me down a bit more.

Just as I started to come to terms with the idea of addiction, I got another e-mail.

Order approved for Matthe…