What’s that? You thought I was just having a weirdly-specific psychological breakdown? I’m offended!
I’ll have you know, there’s always a method to my madness, even if I myself can’t always quite see where at first. As one Instagram commenter put it, ‘I thought you were insane, but now I see that you’re an actual GENIUS“. It’s a fine line, people.
Or ok then, perhaps not – but I swear this little sideline really was always propelled by more than just fangirl glee. Here’s what I learned from playing around with cardboard Luke.
1. The internet is a misogynistic place. Ok, I didn’t really just learn this, but it was the first time I’d been on the receiving end for a while. Vitriolic debate about my marital status, menstrual cycle, sexual performance and “fuckability” all left in the comments on various websites. All, quite sadly, by men. IT’S JUST A JOKE, GUYS. Relax!
2. Embracing womanhood. On the other hand, almost every article I read called me a ‘woman’, and not the more common and diminutive ‘girl’. I’m hoping that’s an indicator of some sort of progress for feminism, though it is equally possible that either a) I now look too old to be called a girl by any definition or b) they were trying to imply spinsterhood with cats (see 1).
3. Imgur is lovely. Of all the responses I received online, the users on Imgur were by far the most funny, friendly, polite and respectful. In fact it’s the only community I encountered that made me want to stay! It’s like a funnier, sassier, less peony-filled Instagram. The fact that several users also proposed to me and said I looked like Milana Vayntrub in no way influenced my opinion, obviously.
4. It’s meant to be fun. Like most people I started using Instagram for fun, but somewhere along the road of monetisation I lost that buzz. This is really a post for another day, but the joy of creating something totally dorky and weirdo and FUN has completely energised me to be creative again. We can all be guilty of taking our social media shiz a bit too seriously. This was my antidote.
5. I’m not totally full of crap. Launching this has been an opportunity to try out some of the advice and strategies I share with my clients about growing an online audience. Me & Luke Skywalker passed 1200 Instagram followers in it’s first week (relatively few of which were from my own existing account – Me & Orla followers kind of hate the Luke pictures, as it happens!). It appeared in The Radio Times & Dorkly and gained over 137k views on Imgur – all with pretty limited effort.
6. People have a surprisingly poor understanding of grammar. “Me & Luke” IS NOT GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT, OK? If you think this you are oversimplifying the rule. Read this.
7. Content is key. Again, something I already knew – but a welcome reminder all the same. When you’re uploading to a site like imgur, your chance of being seen feels pretty remote. The one thing that made it feel possible and worth a shot was the knowledge that I was sharing something different and unique.
So often in blogging and Instagram we don’t feel like that. It’s all too easy to get sucked into reproducing the images and articles that everyone else is creating, to churn out the same old stuff as the day before. We’re not looking for all of our content to go viral, of course, but as an analogy it really resonated with me: the secret to grabbing people’s hearts or minds is to create something unique and worthy of that attention.
8. Keep ’em guessing Pretty much anyone who’s successful online can share stories of people trying to emulate what they do. From outright copying to careful creeping, it can feel a little intimidating to have the shadow of your competition lurking behind your every move. So it makes me laugh – a lot – to imagine my nosy competitors’ faces when they first saw this harebrained side-project of mine. I picture them frowning, wondering if they needed a cardboard sic-fi icon of their own 😆. It’s nice to do something totally out of left-field and put the pressure of other people’s scrutiny to one side for a while.
9. People will imitate anything. Who knew, that after 38 long years of silence, 2016 would be the year that two mad romantic cardboard Luke Skywalker photographic projects would be launched with ‘Me &’ in the title? Coinkydink. It’s since been deleted, so I’ll leave my rant at that.
10. Getting in the picture. I’m not sure when exactly I stopped including myself in my images, but self-consciousness took over at some point and it became rare for me to post photos of myself. This project completely challenged that, and I was surprised to discover an increase in fashion brands reaching out to me for work in response. The pictures they all linked to as favourite examples? Yep, me and Lukey!
11. Don’t share DMs. To sort of justify the creepy undertones of this project, I shared a twitter DM I’d had from Mark where he gave his blessing in emoji form. A few articles grabbed this and took a ‘she’s hot and MH loves it!’ angle, which was a pretty ridiculous exaggeration of the facts on both counts. While I doubt MH knows or cares, I still feel like it was kind of a dick move on my part, and wouldn’t do it again. DMs are private conversations, and shouldn’t be shared without both parties’ consent.
12. You are my fave. It’s easy to feel like a massive idiot when you do something silly that isn’t going to be everyone’s idea of funny. You know who’s never failed to get the joke, laugh along, seek me out to tell me they loved it and be generally awesome & encouraging? You, dear reader. & I love you for it with a pink puffy heart 💕
13. Mark Hamill is the best. He could have taken offence, or sent a restraining order, or just simply ignored me, but he didn’t. Instead he likes my photos when I tweet them & tentatively agreed to do the final photo with my at SWCE in June. That’s a pretty impressive level of fan engagement (ok, tolerance) and sense of humour, no?
You can see the whole photo series and behind the scenes video on the instagram account, here.