It's fair to say that we've all Insta-stalked another person's profile at some point in our lives, whether it's a celebrity or the boy next door (I'm guilty of occasionally scrolling through my favourite bloggers' feeds, drinking up the gorgeous selfies, designer makeup and lavish hotel rooms during Fashion Month), but more often than not it makes us look at our own lives and wonder why it's not as cool or exciting as the lives we see on screen. This might lead to jealously, obsession and even depression; we may ask ourselves, 'will my life ever be as awesome as this?'
Essena O'Neill summed it all up in her video detailing why she quit social media, after having accumulated over 500,000 followers. Some would go above and beyond to get this number of followers, spending hours putting on makeup and taking a hundred shots to get the perfect selfie; making their friends wait fifteen minutes whilst the perfect brunch shot is taken before tucking into cold food at a restaurant; spending their income on named clothes, shoes and bags just so that they can show the world how on-trend they are (or even receiving these products as gifts from brands at the deception of their followers) - all to obtain more likes, more followers and the perfect feed. However, Essena ended her relationship with social media after realising that it encouraged the ideology of unachievable standards; she got a tonne of stick for this, and some people might think it's a drastic move, but she's stated that it's helped her free up her time, enjoy the world around her and generally be present rather than glued to a phone screen for hours.
Doesn't that sound appealing? To physically live, and experience events, people, culture, art, nature, music, real friends and love? I took this photo (below) on my DSLR at the J JS Lee fashion show in London earlier this year, and it was incredible just how many people were watching the show through their phones, waiting to get the perfect Instagram snap of each outfit as it came down the runway for the instant gratification of their followers. To see fashion, an art I love so much, be reduced to a tool to gain online popularity, was a little upsetting - but I'm not naive, and I understand how much the world has changed. What I wonder is, will it always be like this?
If you're feeling the pressure of Instagram, I feel your pain; it can be hard to remove yourself from the rush of excitement when you check the app and see a little 'follow' notification - or, even more, when someone tags you in a photo (oh, the excitement!) - but it can be done. If Instagram is taking over your life and you want to get back to the real world, try one or two of the following things:
- If you usually post every day, limit how many photos you take in a week to three (it's the magic number, after all)
- Post at least one photograph a week of something a little different to your normal style; go into town and take some shots of crowds getting on with their weekly shop, snap a photograph of your dad's gardening wellies or take a candid photograph of your significant other
- If you have to take a selfie, take one shot and accept it
- Take a day off, or better yet, a week
- Unfollow the people whose feeds make you feel jealous
- Follow people whose interests differ from yours
On the other hand, if you love posting on Instagram and you feel no negativity towards it, then good for you! It's an endlessly useful tool for promoting your work as a creative or your brand as an entrepreneur, for communicating with others that you might not have been in contact with IRL, or even as an online scrapbook of all your favourite moments. What I'm saying is, there is nothing wrong with Instagram; the problem lies in the deception that we succumb to and allow to flourish on the platform, and its invasion into our physical lives.
I N S T A G R A M M E R S W I T H A D I F F E R E N C E
@willwhipple - posts blurred images to reflect the way we see moments in our mind as memories
@gdax - all about his life as a Tibetan monk
@mortenordstrom - shooting Copenhagen's people and places
@emolabs - poetry and pretty pictures
@andrewknapp - plays Where's Wally with his beautiful border collie
@idafrosk - endlessly plays with her food (and makes art out of it)
@maya_on_the_move - a bubbly bulldog's adventures in NYC
@gopro - life from the perspective of GoPro users