Let me just start by saying, I recognize that Instagram was not designed with my demographic in mind.  After all, I came of age at a time when pictures were tangible objects and the only way to gather “likes” and “comments” on said images was to pull out a photo album. Remember those? They were grandma’s pride and joy. She would keep treasured photos of her children, and grandchildren and your great, great Uncle Willie whom you never met…but, I digress. These photo albums contained lovely snapshots of moments and memories to be displayed and shown off. And who were these pictures be shown off to? Glad you asked. Guests. Actual physically present people, live and in the flesh. People you knew personally would sit in your home and casually flip through those vinyl pages in real-time as you provided verbal captions to explain the people, places and things depicted. It was a hoot, but those days are gone.

As a 40-something, positioned squarely at the center of the Gen X spectrum, I am sufficiently seasoned to appreciate the old, and youthful enough to welcome the new. I embrace social media.

With the busyness of our daily lives, it is the most efficient way to keep tabs on friends, loved ones, and casual associates.  It provides a convenient means of networking, occasional entertainment, and even staying up on the latest trends. I’m here for the timeline scroll, but that does not preclude me from the occasional “head scratch moment” where online etiquette is concerned. I have questions.

After polling some friends (via Facebook), I quickly learned that I’m not alone. Many of you Gen Xers have similar queries, especially when it comes to Instagram. For our collective benefit, I’ve compiled them into the following,

7 questions for expert Instagramers from the 40 and up crowd:

1. Is it rude not to follow people back?  I feel like I’m endorsing the people I follow so I review their posts carefully to see if there is any questionable material.  That might be setting the bar to high, right? This isn’t LinkedIn.

2. How do you get followers? I don’t know how I’m supposed to do get people to follow me!  Is it two likes and a comment on their post or is one like enough? What is the code?

3. Who looks like this every day? How do you to find glorious spots for pictures and have camera ready hair and makeup. This feels like a lot of pre-planning.

4. Why is everyone so brooding and sexy? I like pictures of happy people, doing fun stuff, in pretty places.  These duck lips, seductive poses, and performances are too much. Some of this is lowkey porn.

5. Is there any room for loving feedback? I commented on a few photos posted by young ladies in my family. Now, I’m blocked! Why? Oh well, I’m sure they’ll understand why transfers from my bank account are now blocked too. #savingmemoney

6. Who is this lil’ boy who keeps liking my pictures? I don’t know him like that. Should I be concerned?

7. How do Instagram stories work? I want to use Instagram stories but it feels like I need a college course to understand how to use this part. Why record it if it’s going to disappear? I’m puzzled.

You know what…on second thought, should we really be aiming to become fluent in IG? Maybe not. 40 somethings, I say we unite, and vow henceforth and forever more to adopt the following rules as

The Official Grown Folks Guide to Instagram:

1. Mix it up

Post crisp, colorful visuals. They don’t always have to be of you. Mix it up as long as they are good shots. Lighting is everything.

Photo: Instagram/@dr.tausharobertson

2. Embrace minimalism 

Photo: Sonoma Magazine

Don’t bombard people with ALL your vacation pictures. Pick a few of the best to share.

3. Hashthag 101

So long pound sign…this symbol can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You choose. Hashtags are used to categorize pictures HOWEVER, check the hashtags because some of them are associate with questionable material. No one our age should ever use #turnup or #turntup. Search it and see what you find…foolishness. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my picture coming up with that mess.

Also, stay away from #nofilter when you clearly used Facetune. You’re not fooling anybody.

4. Pose Accordingly

Photo: Instagram/@jlo

When it comes to poses, it takes lots of practice to have a strong selfie game. While some of us have mastered the casual selfie pose, it’s usually more flattering to have someone else take your picture. Please keep it classy. Anytime you are squatting down, lifting a leg, or poking anything out, it’s a bad idea. Don’t do it.

5. Explore

Photo: Instagram

Use the explore function to find new interesting content and people to follow. I’m amazed at the cool stuff that folks are posting. It ranges from inspirational, to funny, to informative, to just plain beautiful. Venture out a bit.

6. Keep it classy

Photo: Instagram/@kerrywashington

People in your personal and professional life Google you, so it’s nice to have a counter balance to the strictly professional view on LinkedIn. Use Instagram to show a more well-rounded view of who you are. Don’t go crazy, it should still be aligned with your personal brand and what you stand for. #stayinyourlane

You’re welcome

Do you have a few Gen X pointers you’d like to share? We want to hear from you!  Click here to submit your ideas.



Tausha Robertson
Healthcare expert by day and a blogger by night. Founder of Ms. X Factor, a platform for relevant online content and curated offline experiences for multicultural, Gen X women.