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While the title may sound as if I’m against Instagram, I’m really not. In fact, I absolutely love it, and it would be my favourite social media app if Twitter didn’t exist.
Instagram is great. It embodies so much of what social media can bring to our lives. Getting to see what loved ones are up to, or what moments they are sharing, regularly is great for keeping us connected and making the world smaller.
As a Brit who has recently been traveling around the United States, it was a great way of sharing my experiences—sometimes even in real time.
Instagram really gave birth to the idea of sharing snippets of your life, expressing yourself through photographs in a way that nothing else really has.
The app has also given birth to some less positive things, though, such as the subtle brag. While before the days of the internet subtle brags used to only be a problem for your mum or dad, as their neighbours drive up in their new car or slip into conversation talk of their new summer home.
This form of passive boasting is more common in our day-to-day lives now, as it is there waiting for us on that little multi-coloured app.
This is certainly one of Instagram's darker sides because many attempt to appear to be "living their best life," and while most of us are aware of this, it doesn’t stop us from falling for it.
It can even go further than just bragging. Many internet stars are often called out for plain lying to their followers about what they’re doing or where they’ve been.
With the line of what users deem worthy to post constantly dropping, Instagram forces us to constantly compare one another in every aspect of our lives. Why am I not on a yacht right now? Why don’t I dress like that to brunch? Why don’t I have brunch?!
You know, it’s bad when you’re wondering why your avocado toast doesn’t look as good as someone else's you went to school with 10 years ago.
The problem with Instagram, however, is also what makes it great. While everyone shares the highlights of their lives, that is the ONLY part of their lives that they share, which therefore leaves us to compare our full lives. It’s like comparing one movies trailer to another's fully extended version with director's commentary; it just doesn’t make sense.
So what do we do about it? While the latest bandwagon is to cut out social media altogether, I think that’s potentially taking it too far. While a break might be good for us, changing our perception of what we see could work just as well—if not better.
By changing our perception of what social media actually is then we can change they way it can make us feel. Instead of seeing someone's amazing looking breakfast, and comparing it to your plain old cereal, think about how long it took them to take that photo (and how it was probably cold by the time they ate it).
Instead of jealousy that someone else’s holiday looks 10 time better than your own, be grateful that you don’t feel the pressure to take the “perfect” holiday photo like they do.
While it may seem like those who are comparing their lives are the only people suffering from Instagram, so are the people who are posting those enviable photos.
Whether you’re the perfect poster or scrutinising scroller, taking a step back and seeing the popular photo sharing app for what it really is may make you enjoy it again.
The middle ground will allow us to share the exciting parts of our lives, without taking away from the actual moments we are experiencing and forcing a certain persona onto the internet.