I'm so glad you've found your way here. This is a long one, but it truly is an outpour of my heart about something I'm SO passionate about. Please (pretty please) take the time to read it in its entirety!
Back in 2012, as part of Facebook's filing for stock market listing, founder Mark Zuckerberg outlined that the social media site was not only created to be a company but was also built to accomplish a social mission of empowering people.
He later goes on to say:"By helping people form these connections, we hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information...We think a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services...By giving people the power to share, we are starting to see people make their voices heard on a different scale from what has historically been possible. These voices will increase in number and volume."
About now you're probably thinking, "But wait, I thought this article was going to be about Instagram?..." It is. Very much so. Just stay with me, friends!
Now I don't know about you, but Mark Zuckerberg's outline doesn't sound like the news feed that I scroll through on MY Facebook account. Although peoples' voices have definitely increased in both number and volume, meaningful connections and important, reliable information have been long forgotten. People were empowered, but only to promote themselves and share their life online with others. Correction, share the good parts of their life online with others. Nonetheless, Facebook has become filled with political feuds, "Look at me and my life!" posts, and so much more that couldn't be further from empowerment in the way that Zuckerberg intended.
Because of this, people began to flock to Instagram to share their online life with others. Due to the structure of Instagram being only photo-based, people posted less than they used to on Facebook. People focused less on sharing nitty gritty details of their life (*cough*cough* also known as the messy parts) with everyone on Instagram since there isn't a place to post text alone. Even though you can share text in captions, that space is usually reserved for a pun or clever phrase to attract comments, likes, and laughs. And although this is not at ALL bad (trust me, my friends can attest that I LOVE Instagram just as much as the next guy), I'm just sharing this to explain the "logistical" side behind what you might sometimes feel when you're scrolling through Instagram. Clear as mud? Yes, I know, but keep reading! It'll click in just a moment.
When you open the Instagram app, a bunch of content floods your screen. You see recent stories that your friends have been sharing, notifications you might have received while you've been gone, and then you can scroll through your feed to see the latest posts you missed since your last time on the app.
All of this content can suck you in and keep you engaged and on Instagram for quite a while (speaking from experience, of course). But how it differs from Facebook is that you really DO only see highlights. You don't see the messy moments of peoples' lives (not that you really saw it that much on Facebook, but not it really IS eliminated) because Instagram is highly curated. There simply isn't room to be messy on Instagram, so only the cleaned up and presentable moments of life make it into your feed and onto your phone screen. When you're scrolling, what you're seeing is. not. the. whole. story. Let me say that one more time - you are NOT seeing the whole story when you get on Instagram and look at everyone else's lives.
Even though many posts are genuine and real, even then, you are not seeing the full story.
On the flip side of things, this doesn't mean that every single post and story on Instagram is fake. In fact, there are lots moments in your friends' lives that they will genuinely share out of a joyful, thankful heart.
Because we all (for the most part) use social media, think for a second about your own posts. There are times when you simply post to post, and others when there is a genuine feeling of fun and happiness behind the experience you're sharing.
Our natural inclination is to jump on Instagram and instantly start comparing where we are in life and what we're feeling at the moment to what our friends are sharing about their life on Instagram.
Each time I did this, it would dig away at my self-esteem a little bit more. And a little bit more. Instagram became a real world to me and since my world didn't measure up in comparison, I would fall short EVERY time. Without fail. My self-esteem was crushed every time I closed the app and returned to my real life.
If you sometimes find yourself in the same place as me, find specific ways that YOU can fight back against Instagram crushing your self-esteem! For me, that meant taking a break from social media for my second semester to gain perspective. Pinpoint the root of the issue for you personally and then think about what will be most beneficial to counter it.
Another specific, intentional way that I fight back against the feeling that I'm not enough is constantly feeding myself truth and keep it at the forefront of my mind. For me, that looks like reminding myself of who I am in Christ and that my identity is fully found and satisfied in who He is by studying the Bible daily. On days that I don't spend time with God, there is a noticeable difference in the way I view myself - Instagram has the ability to single-handedly degrade and destroys my self-esteem because there is no truth to combat the lies. Fight the feelings of unworthiness with the truth that you are loved, found, and made whole by the grace of our loving Father.
Disclaimer: I don't have it all figured out. But I serve and love a God who does.
The more time I spend getting to know Him, the more I realize who I am and what my purpose is here on earth. And each time I dig into the truth of the Bible that he has graciously given us, the better I understand that it's okay not to have it all together because I serve a Great Father who does.
Don't allow Instagram to become the measure of your worth, looks, talent, or truth. Trust me, there's SO much more fulfillment and true joy found in allowing the encouragement and truth of others, God's Word, and the Lord himself to infiltrate your life.