Each post on my Instagram feed is an investment. Not only do I spend more time than I would like to admit on enhancing, editing, and perfecting each picture, I then have to create a brief yet witty caption all while ensuring that the chosen image will blend seamlessly into my feed. Welcome to a millennial mind.
Today's use of social media is unlike any form of communication seen by previous generations. The modern definition of 'cool' has shifted to accommodate the vast amount of time we spend on these new platforms, and constant fluctuation of what is desirable to society is driving users to impress others who are hiding behind their own seemingly perfect, curated lives.
Each of us is a bit more addicted to technology than we'd like to admit. The new reality our generation faces is that our beloved media platforms are changing the way we view society's expectations for our lives. Not only do most users feel compelled to post a certain amount, have a "respectable" amount of followers, and like all their friends' pictures, but they also are probably being influenced by what they're seeing on their feed without even noticing it.
I recently came across the term "imposter syndrome" which basically is the idea that people can have a hard time accepting their success because they feel like they didn't actually earn it. Have you ever had something so great happen to you and you just keep wondering, "HOW?" Maybe you got an A on an exam you studied all week for in that class that's been kicking your butt this semester, maybe you got chosen for a promotion you thought you had no shot of getting, or maybe you just love life right now but you don't think you did anything spectacular to deserve it. Yup, imposter syndrome.
Over the last week or so, I haven't been able to get this concept out of my mind. Thinking back over my freshman year, I've been able to recognize how the perfect online presence doesn't correspond to a happy user with shocking clarity. So many of my friends, who I thought loved their new environments based on their happy-go-lucky Instagrams and exciting Snapchat stories, have opened up to me about feeling like they just don't belong in their new strange place. The more they revealed about their feelings, the more obvious it became; they felt as though everyone around them was enjoying college, not missing home, and breezing through classes. And in their defense, that's exactly what they saw each time they clicked that little tie-dye box. I can't help but think back to a conversation I had with a homesick hallmate when she asked me, "Everyone else is loving every second of college, why don't I?" At the moment, I had no answer for her but truthfully, no one is excited about exam season, no one enjoys pulling all-nighters to finish that project, and no one wants to have the freshman plague for another minute.
Speaking of those pitfalls we all face, let's talk about finsta's for a minute. Everyone knows and loves them, but they bring up an interesting aspect of how we feel we need to represent ourselves online. No one is posting about a fight with their friend or bombing a presentation on their real feed (imagine the horror!!), so our digitally oriented generation created a new place to do just that. On the very same app that we display our false perfection, we allow only a certain, lucky few to see the reality of our lives. We're spending all our efforts to create the perfect vibe on our rinsta's, while being open about the ins-and-outs of life on our finsta's. So I beg the question, which account is the finsta and which is the rinsta?
The irony of it all? Even those of us who feel that way contribute to the problem. One of my Instagram posts shows me dressed up and laughing with a bunch of friends at a sorority event. The picture is adorable and fits perfectly into my feed, but by stalking my profile, no one would know that I got into a fight with a friend, broke my favorite shoes, and had a generally lame time that night. They see me – like the rest of the people on their feed – thriving. So here's to being a strong supporter of #makeinstagramcasual again, trust me it's for the best.