I got divorced in September 2012. My first Instagram post was in January 2013. (As anyone who has been through a breakup in the digital era can tell you, itâ€™s amazing what you can get up to online when you find yourself with unexpected free time on your hands.)
My daughter was just 3 years old when the marriage ended, and the first eight pictures I posted were of her. Like many parents, I saw Instagram as a way to share pictures of her with my family, particularly my mother, who lives 500 miles away.
But I was also posting them for myself. I only have my daughter with me two out of every 14 days, and I miss her every single day that she is not with me. Itâ€™s painful. What Instagram has allowed me to do is to employ a kind of digital physics, to warp my experience of space and time in my favor. In the offline world, I spend precious hours with her and then she disappears. But online, she is with me again when I post, and then again each time I receive a notification that someone has reacted to that post. Itâ€™s like the universe sending me an echo of the moment.
When I post about her, Iâ€™m also doing a little parenting-by-example. Duffâ€™s First Rule of Instagram Posts says that the caption is as important, if not more important, than the picture. You know, surface plus depth. If I have communicated anything to her as a parent (besides try to be a decent human being) itâ€™s that, if youâ€™re going to ask someone to give you their attention, you should try to make it worth their while. Try to be interesting. Or funny. Better yet, both.