There's an article called Instagram's Envy Effect that's been circulating the internet lately. You've probably seen it, possibly noticed the heated discussions popping up everywhere. It's a tricky subject because it steps on people's toes, not to mention it is easily misunderstood.
I first noticed it on a day I was instagramming my life like a mad-hatter, and have been thinking about it ever since. I'm sure this has all been said before (killed that dead horse dead, we did), but I'm going to throw in my two cents (and yes I am aware of the irony in discussing the pitfalls of social media on social media).
Simply put, the author isn't trying to guilt people into quitting the internet - far from it. She admits to using it regularly, socially, and professionally. She says, point blank, that 'it's not about technology or not,' and often, 'walking away from the internet isn't an option.'
The purpose of the article can be summed up in two healthy, practical points:
1. The internet is composed of partial truths. You're seeing someone else's life through rose-colored glasses (or filters, in this case), so keep this in mind when you're tempted to compare your life to theirs.
2. Choose community over comparison. The internet can be used for so much more than posting the highlights. Make a choice to spend less time browsing and more time building relationships.
I'll admit right off the bat that I use them all. I keep a personal blog (you're reading it); I use Facebook and Skype to keep up with family and friends, particularly since I moved to Europe and most of 'my people' are stateside; and I get a great deal of inspiration from Pinterest. Since I work from home, I also use the internet in relation to this as well. It keeps me happily connected.
And yes, I use Instagram. I love Instagram. There are so many small things about life I would forget otherwise, and I won't deny a certain amount of satisfaction in the fact that my memories are a bit tinted because of it. What can I say? I want to look back and remember the highlights.
You don't want to see the dirty dishes or the piles of laundry in my apartment any more than I want to see yours. Please, don't show me. What's more, I'd rather read your happy statuses on Facebook than a deluge of depressing thoughts. I'm not asking you to bottle them up inside, but choose wisely with whom you will share that aspect of your life. This is where the 'connecting' part comes in; you certainly can't connect with everyone in a blatantly honest, roses-and-thorns kind of way.
Case in point: I instagrammed the yellow daisies my son bought me on my birthday when they were fresh and beautiful; I am not going to instagram them now that he's killed them and they're looking all mangled and pathetic. It has nothing to do with how honest I am, nor am I trying to illicit any comparisons. Most of the plants I have end up dead.
If I'm not mistaken, the original title of the article in question was 'Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life." If you scroll down in the comments you'll see that the author didn't choose this title, and RELEVANT appears to have changed it. It wasn't the point they wanted to make. It isn't even something we do in real life. If you have someone over for dinner, you're probably going to clean up your otherwise messy house, wear nicer clothes than you might if it was just the family, and even cook a bigger meal. It isn't your truthful everyday kind of dinner; it's special. Even your personal real-life photo albums have the best pictures - those are the ones you want to keep - not the one with the kid throwing up in the corner.
By all means, please keep instagramming your beautiful life.
That being said, if you feel you are using social media for the wrong reasons (I'll let you decide what may qualify as such), or you struggle a great deal with comparisons that benefit no one, or you're just spending too much time online, you might want to take an internet detox.
Don't miss out on real life because you're too busy having a virtual one.