About a week ago, my roommate and I were laying on our beds, scrolling through pictures from a hike we had previously gone on. We were discussing which ones we wanted to post on Instagram, and what time would be the “optimal Insta time.”
After a couple of minutes of this, we both realized how dumb the conversation was. Why did it matter what time we posted our pictures? Who cares if you post two pictures in one day (#2pics1day, am I right?) What really makes a picture “Insta-worthy?”
This got our conversation rolling as we discussed the idea that the majority of our generation lives by certain “Instagram rules.” These rules consist of things like not posting more than one picture a day (unless you do something incredibly cool, of course, and if you do, you can’t post that second picture without someone remarking on the fact that you posted two pictures in one day) and not “liking” someone’s picture or not “following” someone basically means that you don’t like that person or you are currently mad at them. These rules aren’t written out anywhere, and yet, we all seem to live by them. And that’s an issue.
Countless times, I have overheard people saying, “I’m annoyed with her so I’m not going to like her Instagram picture.” Sure, you don’t have to like every picture, and you can be selective with your likes, whether you are conscious of that or not, but when you purposefully go out of your way to not like someone’s picture to “make a point,” that’s when problems arise.
Since when did we start using social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to be passive-aggressive? Instead of discussing any issues we have with one another, we place all of the energy on not liking that Instagram picture, that tweet, or that profile picture. And, really, what kind of benefit does that have?
Hint: There is no benefit.
Why do we care so much about our social media profiles? Why do we spend so much time coming up with the perfect line for our biographies (especially when it always ends up consisting of your college, your graduation year, and your sorority anyway.) Why do we agonize over which pictures are good enough for Instagram, or wait until it's prime time Insta-time to post our pictures? Why do we use filters and send screenshots of “Instagram options” to our group chats before posting anything? Why do we spend more time writing the captions than actually taking the pictures?
And I know why, but I really wish it wasn’t the truth. We do all of this to maximize likes, to maximize our online presence and following. Each like we get is a confidence booster, and every time our follower counts go up we silently applaud ourselves because we “must be doing something right.”
We live in an era where social media is our world, and that is both good and bad. In no way do I think that everyone uses social media this way, but I do believe that a very large amount of people do view their social media profiles as a very important part of their lives, and a very important part of who they are as people. Believe it or not, you are more than a string of tweets and pictures.
In regards to the controversy from quite a few months ago about whether or not social media is real life, I think that social media is real life and at the same time it isn’t. I think that social media is what each individual user makes it. Yes, your life may be full of beautiful smoothie bowls, flawless skin, perfect outfits, and parties, but at the same time, your life could also be full of binge-eating pizza, blemishes, sweatpants, and actually having a horrible time at that frat party you posted a picture at.
We selectively choose what to reveal on social media, choosing what is going to depict our most perfect lives. Which is fine, but the problem really arises when we begin to invest so much of our lives into our online profiles and presence, and start to lose our real world presence. Don’t make every event you go to about getting a picture for Instagram. Don’t let social media rule your life. Don’t make social media feel like a job, when it’s not. Don’t feel as if you have to live by these unspoken Instagram rules.
And lastly, don’t take so many pictures that at the end of the day you lose sight of what was really going on around you outside of the picture frame.