The problem with Instagram

By Laura Bonnington

Have you ever posted a picture on Instagram to help improve your outer image?  A poll on the Pulse’s Twitter showed that 75% of voters answered yes. I love social media; don’t get me wrong, but recently I’ve felt trapped in this endless monotonous cycle of switching between apps.

Scroll through Twitter, like the funny memes, jump to Instagram, like all the posts, watch the latest Snapchats, and when I’m really bored, browse Facebook. By the time I catch myself in this cycle, I’ve usually wasted half of the day  doing literally nothing. When my parents ask me what I’ve done that day, there is nothing for me to say.

Social media is a wonderful thing; it shows how much I have in common with people I barely know, and it keeps me connected to people I went to kindergarten with, but it is so artificial. Have you ever noticed that those Common White Girl-type accounts all post the same exact content (stolen from other people) and will keep posting it every couple of months until something new comes along? Or how about the time spent on carefully choosing and editing pictures to post?

Every time I post a picture on Instagram, I’m very conscious about how other people will perceive it. Just last week, my sister took a picture of me playing with my one-year-old niece. When my sister sent me the picture I decided to post a picture on my Instagram celebrating her birthday, but I faced a dilemma: She didn’t look very happy in the picture. I spent time asking my mom and sister if they thought it was good enough to post, and with enough convincing, I decided to post it. But it took hours of me wondering if people would make silent judgments about her looking upset and what their opinion would be of me because I decided to post it. In the end I decided to post it because it brought back happy memories of celebrating her 1st birthday, and now I cherish that picture and just absolutely love it.

The point is, I shouldn’t have had to worry about what other people thought. People have gotten into the mindset of thinking about what everyone else will think instead of directly how they themselves feel. There are so many pictures I haven’t posted just because they weren’t deemed “Instagram-worthy.”

Really, the main problem isn’t that people are posting these beautiful pictures, it’s that when other people see these pictures and the “perfect lives” they entail, we wish we were them, not even realizing that they are people too who are also going through problems and maybe wish they were someone else. YouTuber Laci Green said that, “Because platforms like Instagram and Facebook present highly curated versions of the people we know and the world around us. It is easy for our perspective of reality to become distorted…”. And because of that, the way we view ourselves stems from how we view other people, particularly on social media.

And that is truly the problem of Instagram. It makes us keep trying to be like other people, but where is the stopping point?  One day you just have to sit back and realize that no amount of wishing or hoping or trying to be like someone else will make you into the person you want to be, only you can do that.