Something caught my eye this morning as I was scrolling through Instagram. It was an article about how teens and young adults voted in a survey saying that Instagram was the worst social media for mental health and that it was the cause of increasing levels of anxiety, depression, bullying, low self-esteem and extreme FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).
Being someone who spends a good portion of her days taking pictures, editing and posting them and scrolling through to find new creators and influencers, I completely understand how seeing someone else living their best life could make anyone a tiny bit jealous if you feel like you’re stuck in a place in your life that YOU THINK could be so much better.
For a while even I was stuck in that place, seeing so many super skinny, toned and fit girls, all of them undeniably beautiful, on exotic beaches or in lush rainforests, dancing around like fairy princesses. It’s the same for the guys, and let’s not forget the #couplegoals, with the most beautiful couples walking hand in hand giving us all the relationship envy.
The other day I got called out for being ‘obsessed with my Instagram’, and although I don’t owe it to anyone to explain why it is that I love doing what I do, I feel that if I explain my journey of realisation to you, then maybe you can start to understand how you too can learn to take only the positive, and not the negatives, from the world of social media and especially Instagram.
When I started to understand how the big influencers did what they did, I became interested to learn more, to understand how it was that they had created an empire with thousands of people who sit in their bedrooms and simply click a like button. It’s a fascinating art, to be able to create content and use software to play with colours, and light to create the illusion of perfection. But right from the start, I knew that that’s what it was, an illusion.
I think it’s time that we understand that breaking this illusion won’t mean that we’ll appreciate it any less. We all know that magicians in circuses have tricks up their sleeves and that it’s all a deception of the eyes, but we don’t call them out or say that being envious of their ability to make magic is somehow a negative influence on us.
We embrace the magic and for a moment allow ourselves to be lost in it. I think it’s the same with creating content on Instagram. It takes two seconds to see a picture and like it, but that’s all it should be, embrace the beauty of the content being shown to you but don’t allow it to impact any more of your time than that.
On the contrary, unlike with magic in the circus, here you can seek further to find out the meaning or the ‘how’ behind the magic without it being any less magical. Especially now with Instagram stories, where you have a lot of influencers posting behind the scenes shots and their daily lives, we’re finally getting to see that their ‘perfect’ pictures are only that tiny 5% of their life that we get to see.
Some of the most magical pages on Instagram are created by people with millions of followers and they’re often the ones who have edited their pictures the most to give it that desired effect. And why it is that more often then not, we like these pictures more than we like pictures posted in their raw and unedited form?
Well, it’s because human beings are drawn to a bit of magic and illusion, whatever form it may come in.
There are over a billion people on Instagram, so if you look hard enough, you’ll find that everyone has so much more to share than pictures, it’s about lives, it’s about sharing experiences and making friends and inspiring people. Yes maybe those will also include discount codes, giveaways and quirky things but it’s not always a money making scheme and sometimes it is a genuine desire to connect and give the audience a chance to own, experience, or take part in the things that are going on in the picture.
If you read captions and checked out their blogs, you would see that they have so much more to give you than that destructive feeling of envy. They want to inspire you and motivate you, and if that’s not what you’re feeling from their content, then it’s so easy to click the unfollow button because THERE ARE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE ON INSTAGRAM.
There are people of all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, at different stages in their lives and there are so many experiences to relate to and communities to join. There are pages with highly edited pictures and pages with barely any edit at all. In order to be part of the wonder of social media, take the time to follow people who are truly inspiring. Don’t follow them because they have lots of followers and expensive things, follow them because they have something extra to offer you.
Whether that’s travel bloggers, student bloggers, fashion and lifestyle bloggers, food bloggers, mama bloggers, or even just celebrities, people are so much more than their pictures. And there are so many people for you to discover.
I understand the desire to want to photoshop something here and there, to remove a pimple, or some stretch marks and make the sky look a bit brighter or however else they want to change their images. At the end of the day, we have to remember that it is their creations, their art and they can do what they want with it. But of course at the same time, they have a responsibility not to blindly throw their content into the world, but to leave a little insight as to the fact that no, they aren’t perfect either, and that no you don’t EVER need to correct your ‘flaws’ or make anything look different to impress others. But that’s the topic of a different post.
I work very hard to make my feed look the way I want it to, but I keep it very real with you all in my instastories. My feed is my art, it’s the first impression I want you to get of me, but the ultimate goal is so that it leads you here, to my blog, or to my chatty sessions in my stories where we talk about so much more than a picture taken somewhere pretty in pretty clothes, which is not at all what life is all about.
I am nowhere near perfect. And when I lose a follower or two, I never get upset, because I understand that I won’t and can’t inspire or appeal to everyone and I wouldn’t want anyone following me if I didn’t do anything for them, just the way I have no problem unfollowing someone who doesn’t make me feel good about myself or doesn’t inspire me. And if learning how to create the magic is something you want to do, then you can’t sit and simply drool, be proactive because, with a little bit of insight, you too could get the look you want and begin to grow a little community.
If you’re interested for me to share what I’ve learnt with you guys, I’d be more than happy to! I am so grateful for the community of friends I’ve made over on Instagram and the DMs you guys send me really make me feel like I’m really connecting with actual people and not just usernames and that’s an amazing feeling.
If you get that little feeling of FOMO that you aren’t in the Bahamas, or in the hills of Poland, check out the images from the travel bloggers and watch their blogs and just take in the beauty of the world that they’re sharing with you, not the fact that you aren’t there yourself.
If you follow mama bloggers or couples, take the experiences they have to share, the lessons they have learnt and add it to your information bank because you’ll never know when one day you’ll remember something someone said online and it could change your life.
If you follow fitness motivators and want to be inspired, get off your bum and go to the gym. If you simply follow celebrities doing celebrity things, have the strength to realise that your life is just as amazing and just as beautiful if you open your eyes to its wonders.
How many times are we going to read articles where super influential people who have up till then led perfect lives, come out and say that in reality, their lives are anything but perfect and that they suffered from anxiety, eating disorders and real-life problems. And them coming out with this is absolutely amazing because that’s what makes young girls and boys realise that there is no such thing as perfection. It’s how it should have been in the first place.
Take control of how you allow yourself to be influenced, learn to filter out the good from the bad and search for and join communities that make you laugh, that make you feel beautiful and reach out to those people that you feel may have something new and different to offer you.
I’m obsessed with the amazing friends Instagram has allowed me to meet and the wanderlust it’s given me and the places it’s allowed me to put on my bucket list. I’m obsessed with the amazing food I’ve had the chance to eat and the people (you guys) that I have the opportunity to inspire. I’m obsessed with the life stories that I have read which have changed my perspectives on life and have altered the way I live my life.
If Instagram is a place that depresses you, makes you feel insecure or unsafe, or bullied, reach out to people and seek to understand what lies behind the filters. It’s so sad that after all this time, people are still feeling this way and we as a society haven’t broken the mould yet.
If it’s actual people making you feel unsafe or like you aren’t good enough, there are a multitude of reasons why they may feel the need to spread negativity and chances are you’ll never understand it, so click that unfollow button, click that block button and immediately remove them from your life.
You are the creator of your own happiness, both in real life and online. You are the first step to creating the kind and positive environment that you want to be a part of on social media. As hard as we try to say that social media isn’t everything, it is a lot of things, and it’s not going away any time soon, so it’s up to us to make it a place that we can all enjoy.
Sit back, grab some Oreos, and let’s see what life has to offer us next,