I refused to make an Instagram for years. My friends begged me. Strangers asked me to follow them. Organizations asked me to like their pages. Even my own parents told me to make an Instagram. Everyone wondered why I did not have an Instagram account. Part of it was that I did enjoy seeing people's incredulous expressions. Secondly, it was a fun way to drive my friends crazy by adamantly refusing to make an account. The other reason was that I was too conscious of how having an Instagram account would affect me.
Therefore, on April Fools, I gave in and made an Instagram account. All my friends immediately followed my account in the first hour of its existence. I followed them back and explored the app to become familiar with it. I wondered who to follow and mulled over what to write as my bio. Are emojis too childish? Would quotes be too cheesy? I was already worried about people's perception of me before I even posted my first photo.
After the initial excitement wore off, I realized I had spent too much time scrolling through my feed (that wasn't refreshing to show me anything new since I didn't follow that many people yet). Like any other app, it was addicting, and I was only getting started. I have read article after article about how Instagram damages self-esteem, accustoms people to seeing idealized versions of everyone else's life, and its effects on mental health. As an avid Snapchat user, I did not expect myself to become too bothered by the images I would see on my feed. I saw hundreds of images and videos daily. If I kept in mind that people take the time to only show the best portions of their life, then I thought I would be fine. However, as all things, that is much easier said than done.
I have only had my account for a little over two weeks, and I have tried my best to not become obsessed with comparing myself and my life to other people's. What I didn't anticipate was the feeling of excitement as my notifications overflowed with comments and likes from my friends (and some random people I don't know). It felt invigorating to see the number of likes my first post received and the praise in the comments. Eventually, when it slowed down I was surprised to feel a bit disappointed.
This moment made me remember the real reason why I did not want to make an Instagram in the first place. I did not want to rely on other people's likes and comments to feel good. There is nothing wrong with complimenting other people and recognizing their hard work or talent. I enjoy praising my friends. Yet, it felt odd to want others to praise me because I took a few nice photos in front of pretty flowers. I love to appreciate aesthetics, but now that I have an Instagram, I must constantly remind myself that when I post, it should be for me first, and not for likes.
As long as I keep that in mind, I'll double-tap to my heart's content. What's not to love about beautiful photos all in one place?
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