Full disclosure, I love Instagram. It is by far my favorite social media platform. There are no awkward friend requests, political statements are usually kept to a minimum, and the entire platform is built around the beauty of photography and letting images, not words, tell the story.
However, as great as it can be, it also lies. It might produce the most lies and false information of any of the popular social channels. Yes, Facebook is filled with ‘fake news’ articles, but you can usually weed those out pretty quickly. Instagram however, often tells a story of a life event or situation that simply isn’t real. All it provides, is a snapshot, capturing one second of what is going on in the life of the person taking the picture. We have no idea what happened before that picture, what happened afterward, and what goes on in that person’s life or the other 86,399 seconds in their day. Yet, we view the photos of family, friends, and celebrities, and treat them as if they are a running narrative of that person’s life. “It must be like that all the time!”, “I wish my life was that interesting!”.
Let’s say you are checking Instagram at work and come across a picture your former college classmate took while sitting on the beach. At that moment, the sun is shining and they are taking advantage of the beautiful weather instead of being stuck inside at work like you are. If this person continues to post pictures of themselves doing things you wish you were doing, you are going to think that they are living some magical life and that your existence is inferior. However, those pictures are not portraying a magical life, they are portraying a magical few seconds. You see the beach, but you don’t see that it was taken over the weekend. You don’t see the low paying job they have to go to that evening. Perhaps, the reason this person posts so many beach pictures is because they don’t have anything else special in their life to document.
Even worse than following the Instagram account of a friend or contact, is to follow one of a stranger or a celebrity because you have no backstory on this person. Did they come from money? How much hard work and sacrifice did they have to put in to earn the life they are living? Do these pictures even belong to them? Their situation is most likely completely different than ours and yet we take these one-second snapshots as gospel. Then, we strive to be like them or put ourselves down for not living that type of life.
The point of all this is that there is a dark side to a platform that allows you to share your life through pictures because it only shares the good stuff. No one shares pictures of fighting with family, their low paycheck, or mental health issues. You rarely see a picture of the boring work days most of us have or the traffic we are stuck in on the way home. Instagram is a great way to appreciate photos and share moments with people you care about but just remember that they are brief moments in a person’s life. You have no idea what their actual life is. Don’t put yourself down, get jealous or think your life is inferior. Posting pictures is nice. Focusing on the rest of your day is better.
Kyle is a youth/education public speaker and blog author. His goal is to use these mediums to inspire high school and college students to think differently about the choices they are about to make and the next steps in their lives.
Check Out My New Book To The Next Step – Available For Pre-Order
The views expressed in this blog and all my content are mine and do not reflect the views and opinions of any companies and educational institutions I have had current or past connections with.