A few weeks ago, I published an article on some of the potential dangers of social media (if you’re interested, you can see it http://theodysseyonline.com/biola/picture-perfect-pinterest-worthy-life-matter/131702). While it can cause some very real issues, both personally and relationally, social media often gets a bad rap. So, in contrast to my previous article, I thought it would be appropriate to also make a defense for social media.
Now, I won’t try to tackle all of them; there are so many different avenues of communication, and it would be impossible to discuss each of them. Instead, I want to make a case for Instagram.
Many might say—myself included—that viewing the world through an Instagram filter is just unhealthy—that straightening your cup of coffee so it fits better in the frame (I’m guilty of this one), adjusting the contrast so that sunset looks cooler, and setting up your book so you look really studious, are all ways we put up a façade and live fake lives.
There is truth to this and I think I showed that in my previous article. However, I think Instagram can in fact be an important tool in how to see the world. Even though sharing pictures through Instagram might not foster community or build relationships, it does have the potential to influence the way we see the world around us for the better. If we engage with this form of social media thoughtfully, it can have some positive affects on our eye for beauty.
Instagram often helps us look for beauty. You don’t need Instagram to appreciate beauty, but it can often help us look for it. Think about it this way: when you go to the beach to watch the sunset, you know what you’re getting into. It’s majestic, beautiful, and awe-inspiring every time. Why Instagram it? Isn’t the real thing just better? Well, yes, it is better, but bear with me for a minute. Snapping a well-planned picture or two with a smartphone might just help us see beauty in a fresh way. The sunset doesn’t need to be immortalized on social media, but a well taken, edited, and filtered Instagram picture can help us see beauty in a very unique and new way.
Even more than this, Instagram can train us to see beauty in unexpected places. As you scroll through your Instagram feed on a given day, more often than not, you will see posts about pretty normal things. Sure, some people are off traveling the world, but usually I find little bits of daily life. Instagram can help us see the simple, normal ways we encounter beauty in everyday life. We might notice some things because of their Insta-worthiness, and ultimately their beauty, that we might not notice otherwise.
Instagram can also make us notice important moments. This isn’t true in every instance, but Instagram posts can help us see what is important to us and even declare what that is. Whether it’s a few cherished moments with people you love, a friend’s birthday, or a life milestone, an good ole’ filtered Insta-pic can remind us of what is important and help us express that.
These things are not necessarily true in every situation, and there are far more ways to use social media poorly than ways to use it well—so I’m not saying this gives you an excuse to hide behind an Instagram filter in every selfie and ignore things that are real and good just for a post. But as people striving to do life well, it is important that we think about how to use the things we have been given.