In 2012, I created my first Instagram account. At the time, I was just an awkward middle-schooler, posting around 40 pictures a day of One Direction, puppies, and inspirational quotes straight off of Google Images. I thought Instagram was the perfect opportunity to display some cool photos, offering an insight into the awkward thirteen-year-old I was.
Little did I know the effect social media would have in my teenage years. I was unaware of the positive AND negative impact it would have on my life, and I was unaware of how people would revolve their actions, decisions, and life around capturing the most aesthetic Instagram-worthy post. Because of this, I can say that almost six years after creating my first account that I have deleted Instagram.
I know what you're thinking. No, I'm not "weird", idiotic, or outdated. I don't even hate social media. The reason why I deleted Instagram was that I simply was tired of people who falsely portray their lives through social media.
These are the people who hide behind their profile, who use their Instagram as a "highlights page" only showing the best moments of your life where every picture is posted simply because it "looks nice" or compliments their physical appearance. These are the people whose speak incessantly in the comments yet barely say a word in real life, these people delude themselves with the world of social media rather than the reality of genuine conversations, experiences, and relationships.
These people are the ones who go to the beach on a summer day and spend hours trying to get the "perfect bikini picture with their friends", or only go to a restaurant just to get a picture of a signature dish or drink. But as a college freshman, I see this reality with college girls who try to hide the difficulty of the transition to a college lifestyle behind the "perfect Instagram" account.
Instead of feeling out their new environment, I was a firsthand witness to girls who looked for the perfect Instagram post more than lasting friendships. Within the first couple weeks of school, these girls posted pictures with groups of girls they barely even knew not because they had established a concrete friendship in such a short amount of time but rather because they or the group looked good.
Yet, no matter how good the lighting or the background with most likely a patterned tapestry and holiday lights seemed, these pictures are always edited. Girls are constantly spending hours or a prolonged period of time finding the most flattering filter, or in some cases photoshopping the picture to change the shape of their bodies or their physical attributes.
Recently, I have found myself spending hours upon hours scrolling through my most recent posts. It took me months to realize that this is what made me depressed; it was the fact that I was constantly comparing myself to other people, people I knew from high-school or somewhere else that appeared to be having an "easier adjustment than I was". I took this sadness out on myself, wondering if I was the problem and what I was doing wrong. I asked myself, "Why don't I have 'my group' like everyone else does?".
I wondered if they had ever experienced any adjustment problems or difficulty in finding the right people, or if the people they latched onto the first day simply became their friends for life. However, I realized that my worries could not have been any more wrong. Sure, everyone encounters difficulty during their first year, let alone their first semester of college.
Don't buy the Instagram accounts that try to tell you otherwise. Behind all their posts, there is drama and difficulty. My issue was with people who tried to hide this, who assured that their college experience was perfect when it, in fact, was not.
Through this form of self-denial, I realized the emptiness behind the obsession of petty posts, double taps, and unequal follow-ratios was not worth losing who I truly was. It was after this realization that I was compelled to delete Instagram, and I couldn't be happier.
Without Instagram, I began to spend more time focusing on who was really important in my life, rather than relying on pictures of people I barely knew and aimlessly scrolling through other people's profiles. I gravitated towards actually communicating to people from home who were far away from me. I began sharing my experience while listening to others, trying to offer any advice or support my friends needed.
I became more productive in my work, which helped me to recognize the various unique opportunities my university had to offer both academically and socially while simultaneously improving my sleep schedule and GPA. In that moment, I realized that my Instagram purge was the only way that I could truly begin to think about what I needed to learn about myself in order to figure out who I wanted to be.
Even though my relationship with Instagram was focused more on its negative effects, I am fully aware of its advantages as well. It is the perfect way to share amazing photos, to connect with family and friends who are far away, and to be updated on your favorite celebrities, news, or other interests. My only problem is people who aren't genuine on social media, who try to create a profile different from their real identity.