5 things to remember about the reality of Instagram
Ok, let’s #bereal. Instagram is where a lot of us spend a fair bit of time, scrolling through pictures, uploading our favourite snaps and accidentally clicking on one cool-looking account, and then another, and then another. It can be a total black hole of time, but it is a great visual platform that can be useful for personal sharing or business.
It is also, according to one recent study, the social media platform that makes us feel the worst about ourselves *sad face*. This isn’t surprising when you take into account that a lot of the pictures are simply miniature versions of the billboards created to smack us in the face with our inadequacy and tempt us to buy stuff to remedy it. Here are 5 things that I find it helpful to bear in mind when I’m scrolling through the platform; aka, the reality of Instagram:
#1 : About hot girls. You know what I’m talking about. Those hot girls, the ones who you desperately want to look like and wonder how they rolled out of bed looking so fab and toned? A lot of them are professional models.
Pro model work is no picnic (and there aren’t many of those either); they are getting up early; working out hard before going to castings; dealing with multiple disappointments; being told they are too tall/short/fat for a job and not even able to turn to a good ole’ doughnut for comfort.
They are drinking juice that looks like pond water; spending ages on a proper cleanse/tone/moisturise/placenta-face-mask routine (where da baby wipes at, amirite); having a lot of early nights; ordering salads at the pizza restaurants; saying no to wine and working their butt off (or on) at the gym. Yes they look good, but it comes at a cost, and even they aren’t always happy with the way they look. Also, beauty fades. No one looks stereotypically-hot forever. We shouldn’t have to look to other people’s misfortune for our own joy but if you’re really unhappy that you don’t look like the models, remember that in 10 years/ after they’ve had kids, they won’t either.
#2: About editing. Oh sweet yams, can we please spare a moment to think about Photoshop. No-one is jumping up and down at the back of the class, shouting ‘Me! Me! I used Photoshop! That pic isn’t the original photo!’ When I talk about this I also mean all the other edits, filters and sorcery that people use to make their photos look like something they are not. Yes, it looks cool. Yes, we like looking at perfect, visually-appealling things. No, it does not work wonders for our self-esteem. The water usually isn’t that blue, the girls are not really that tanned (and if they are, erm- skin cancer, hello?) and those abs are not that defined. Usually- there are always exceptions, for which see Point #1 above.
#3: About people having their sh*t together. If I see one more perfectly colour-coordinated, pristinely clean, cushions-plumply-arranged bedroom (especially any with the following: white swirly marble; rose gold accessories; cacti in terrariums; fairy lights) I might just cry. Carefully. Into a cup, which I will then tip down my polished sink so as not to make any mess in my immaculate bedroom or smear my fourteen layers of contour. JOKES.
I totally get that there are probably single, cool, glamorous people who always make their beds and whose rooms look amazing, (maybe because they are always out partying or at work and not at home to mess it up?) But for those of us with children- multiple children- on a budget, with very little time to think about anything except kids and work- well the whole perfect-house thing can do one. I love looking at a neat house but I would pick our busy, loud, happy home with toys in each room and kids who are more engaged in their activities than with creating a show-home any day. Also, life happens. At the moment we are packing for a round the world trip with kids and there are bags, piles of clothes and bits ‘n’ bobs everywhere. It’s messy because we are doing life, living it to the full, and spending time creating adventures rather than anxiously worrying what it looks like to outsiders (probably a hot mess ;)).
#4: About travel. You see all the nomadic accounts of glamorous young things draped in boho chic, sunning themselves in sandy paradise or quietly reflecting on the edge of Bali rice fields?
What you don’t see is the mosquito bites, and the cockroaches, and the lost bags, and the 24 hour flights, and the 13 hour layovers in terrible airports, and the upset stomachs, and the pickpockets, and the stupid monkey that nipped you so you have to have three rabies injections, and some corrupt locals trying to extort money, and the missed flights, and the unexpected visa fees, and that bit on the insurance policy that you accidentally missed off but now really need, and that time you got bitten to death by bedbugs and the only other place to stay was in a chicken coop (true story).
People don’t post about that stuff because their accounts are a kind of escapism; viewers want to believe that a perfect, carefree lifestyle is possible. We will be posting about all the aspects of travel, good and bad, because we want to show people that a better, free-er way of life is possible but also that you have to work gosh-darn hard for it and that it isn’t perfect.
#5: About your value. You are you, designed consciously and with great care and love. Don’t compare yourself to other people. It may seem an easy thing to type from a keyboard, but it is something that I genuinely try to live out, having always really danced to my own beat and been fairly single-minded about it. Even a couple of years ago, when I was questioning something- again- my Mum sighed, ‘You never just do what you’re told, do you?’ It’s true, I don’t.
I don’t follow the crowd (unless they’re going somewhere awesome) and I don’t do things just because most other people do them. If you live like this it can be difficult as you will get a lot of people asking why you don’t just conform as well as a lot of criticism; however a) you will get used to it and b) if you truly are a little wildling like myself then you will have good reasons as to why you are doing your own thing.The other thing to say about being yourself is that you need to celebrate your own achievements and successes, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. I believe that we are all uniquely and wonderfully made by God; even if you don’t believe in God it should be obvious to you that none of us are exactly the same, so we should not expect the same of ourselves as others.
There’s a picture going around on Facebook that I really like. It has a goldfish, giraffe, monkey, crocodile and a cow lined up near a tree. The caption reads â€œIf every animal was judged by its ability to climb a tree, they would spend their whole lives thinking they were useless. You are not a monkey; you have qualities and gifts that are specific to you- learn to love them and use them wisely.
I hope a couple of these insights into the reality of Instagram have been helpful to some of you. I’ve spent a long time on the platform and all too often have got sucked into a funk by looking at seemingly perfect pictures. How do you find that Instagram makes you feel? Do you like realistic pics and videos or do you find the polished snaps inspirational?
“Always be a first-rate version of yourself; not a second-rate version of someone else.” – Maya Angelou