Social Media for Architecture Students: A Response to its Longevity & Mental Health Challenges

Social media (here, I’m focusing on visual-oriented SNS such as Instagram) often plays a significant role in the professional life of designers and architects nowadays. But how to use it effectively as an architecture student is not a simple task, especially regarding its longevity.

Challenges with the relationship with social media

Social media allows one to portray and communicate specific imagery of oneself. In a professional sense, architects tend to share content related to their projects, company culture and values, etc. Numerous students replicate this approach by sharing final drawings from their final projects. However, keeping it sustainable or maintaining quality and consistency is difficult, particularly after finishing the study.

Another challenge is the inherent desire to seek attention and acceptance through public reactions. The number of likes is one of the pseudo measures interpreted as a relative judgement on contents when it doesn’t necessarily define the quality of contents. It is especially detrimental for design-related works because the number of likes influences how works are perceived. As we cannot avoid having an expectation of people’s reactions, relying on public response can directly affect one’s mental well-being.

Making it work for me – redefining the role of social media

These challenges were something I had to think through before starting to post content from my master’s degree. I didn’t want my Instagram account to become a mere online portfolio of past projects or a collection of random things I think others might like. After all, I felt that it should be about what I want it to achieve for me – not what people expect me to post.

It was when I considered Instagram a visual diary of my daily activities – recording memorable moments, places I visited, and people I met. Initially, it was a way to embrace the design process over outcomes by capturing sketches, draft physical models and the progress on other assignments – like behind the scene videos. Most importantly, focusing on my work rather than myself ensured that people could see me through what I do, not how I look. Since it is my ‘diary’, I stopped expecting people to react to them – I could justify it as for myself to reflect on years later and appreciate it, not for instant gratification defined by the number of likes.

The use of reels proved more effective in reflecting my point of view and communicating a large amount of information (movement, light, sequence of activities, etc.) than individual images that often have a higher curatorial hurdle. Also, posting a reel on a daily basis helped me lower the expectation of the level of polish – in fact, minimal editing on segments better suggests the authenticity of activities.

Video editing + cover image photoshop + haiku of a day + jazz music of a day

Posting a reel about a day before has become part of my daily routine. In the past, I’ve been asked about the time taken to publish a reel each day. Currently, I spend about 15-20 minutes putting together a video, editing a cover image, picking accompanying jazz music and composing a haiku of the day (haiku is a new addition from 2023). It might seem tedious to do all of them every day, but it is also a moment to reflect on the day before and think about the day ahead.

I’m sure that how I use social media will change as my lifestyle and relationship with media shift. Also, I don’t think treating Instagram as a visual diary works for everyone. However, at least for now, it has helped me revisit my last few years’ worths of experiences in a more authentic and memorable way while inviting people to get to know me as a person. I found it to be more beneficial and sustainable beyond my time as an architecture student.

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