I just posted a picture on Instagram. And hashtagged the hell out of it, too. I’m hoping and planning for roughly as many likes as possible (a few thousand should do, yes?) But of course, I’m chill. The likes will happen. The love will runneth over with comments from my friends. I can be cool and relaxed because now that I posted this picture, my life is complete.
Well, for the next few hours anyway, until I need to post something else.
Meanwhile, I’ll drink more coffee. I’m cool enough to sit and not look at my phone for a few minutes, right? I can handle this.
My leg begins to pump with anxiety. I glance at the backside of my phone. I only need one little peak. Just one…
Sound like you? You are not alone. There are people so obsessed with social media, they check their phones over 200 times per day, alienating actual friends and family who are near them. So ask yourself: Is Instagram pretty much taking over your life? If so, sit back, put your phone away (unless you’re reading this on it), and listen up.
There is good and bad to social media. What you need to figure out is, do you need Instagram-recovery- intervention (step away from the phone!)? Or do you simply need to cool your jets a little (no, you don’t need to post the pic of you eating tacos… again), and get your priorities back in gear.
There is, of course, the upside to participating in social media.
Instagram is great for learning: Learning about events, learning about the latest fashion trends, learning about what any and everyone is doing what they’re doing. It’s a cornucopia (of truth or untruths) and there’s so much to know about everything that it’s truly overwhelming. Instagram is essentially a news channel of what’s hot and what’s not. It’s a way to see what is trending in every category imaginable.
Instagram is also a fantastic way to keep track of what your friends and family are doing: I love seeing what a friend of mine is eating (even if no one else cares) and I love seeing my nephew’s cute baby pics, or my bestie’s newest handbag purchase. Sure, it’s trivial and mundane. But, it’s also interesting and crazy to be able to see what’s happening in so many different people’s lives!
I’m connected to them in a way that is unlike anything else. It’s as simple as that.
But all of the aforementioned comes with a downside.
The ugly side to IG is how I lose that side and become competitive, insecure, and narcissistic. It’s how we manage this aspect and keep our sanity (No, I don’t need to check my IG status every minute) and keep ourselves in check (No, I don’t need to compare my life to someone else’s picture) that really matters.
Here are five ways Instagram isn’t so good for you:
1. Too much information: Why do I feel like I have to show the world what I’m doing every second? I don’t. Why do I need to share what I’m eating? Why do I need to tell you that I just purchased these awesome ripped jeans and now you can see me in them? I don’t. Social media promotes “me-ism” but I can lessen that by being less in it! I don’t need to post five times a day. Once is fine. A good motto to live by, if you have an IG addiction like me, is “less is more.” When it comes to IG, that goes a long way. I want to leave people wanting more, not rolling their eyes wondering, “How many more pics are you going to post about your dog?”
2. Instagram is not real life: For famous You Tuber Essena Oneil, the biggest reason for quitting social media entirely was the lie behind it. It was all fake. The pictures, set up. The work it takes to “appear” perfect, just as tragically forced. While not everyone has an IG account like this, a great deal of the celebrities and uber-popular people do. Most of us are simple peeps having fun. But, when it comes to promoting a lifestyle that isn’t even representative of ourselves, how does that work for “living authentic?” For me, it’s too much fake for my own good. Which is why my husband humbles me daily and jokes about adding #livefake hashtag to all my posts (instead of #livefolk).
3. Comparison is the thief of joy: Do I really need to elaborate here? What we see on IG is naturally going to make us compare ourselves to it. She looks better than I do in the same sweater. Her feed is far more beautiful than mine. He has 27 thousand followers. I only have 200. Her vacation pictures look like magazine shots. Mine look like my 2-year-old niece took them. When we compare, we lose our joy and gain insecurity. What kind of a deal is that?
The only way to get that joy back is to not compare. How do we do that? By actually looking at other’s feeds with gratitude and awe. Grateful that their pictures are beautiful (and knowing it’s all so set up!), and compliment them. Our self-worth isn’t derived by other people liking what we post. It’s already in us, ready to show –without needing people to “follow” us to make it so.
4. It's a time-waster: If only I had more time in the day! Yeah. We all say it. Know what wastes my time? My incessant scrolling through Instagram. All my fault. Want to be more productive? Give yourself strict guidelines to surfing all the IG content. For example, only allow five minutes in the morning. Later at lunch, a few more minutes. Limit the amount, and don’t check all the time.
Warning: This. Will. Be. Hard. I’m an OCD Instagram checker. I mean, my OCD has OCD it’s so bad. So, this concept of limiting my time, and being intentional when I am on IG is hard. But, suddenly something amazing happens when I stop spending so much time checking on everything: I have more time!
5. IG friends < real friends: This is going to seem so basic it’s complicated: Real friends, flesh-and-blood friends are just as good as IG friends. Not saying IG friends aren’t real or valid. Believe it or not, I have some phenomenal friends that I’ve met via IG – friends that have filled my heart and filled voids I didn’t even know I had – that rival friends I’ve known for years. But those local friends, those whom I can reach out and hug, they are waiting for me to get off my damn phone and say hello! Go to coffee. Grab a bite. See a movie. It’s amazing what spending time with your family and friends gives you. That’s real validation.
Are you feeling a bit caught in this social media storm? Caught up in being a part of the “fake” life that has you questioning what and who you are anymore? Can’t remember what it’s like to wake up in bed and drink your coffee without having to take a picture of it and post it for the world to see? Find out how bad you have this IG bug, and when you know, adjust accordingly.
Here's a challenge if you feel you are falling in the Instatrap. Try taking your four posts a day down to one or two. Take a day or two off from social media, and invest the time in something you claim to "never have the time for". Reach out to a real life friend for every social media friend you interact with.
We all can learn from our digital past. Now’s the best time to change. Right now and without our phones.