Before I start, let me just say that this is not a rant about Instagram or the people who use it. I have an IG account as do many of my friends. It’s a great platform not just for photo sharing but for meeting new and inspiring people (the filters aren’t half bad either!!). I would even go as far to say that IG is now my favourite form of social media, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look more closely at the content we’re sharing and it’s potential impact on our lives.
Instagram can often make us feel as though we need to present a certain side to ourselves, one that could be considered unachievably perfect. I spend a great deal of time crafting the ‘perfect’ Insta photo – carefully assembling cutlery/flowers/food, tidying my home (or just pushing the clutter out of shot!), searching for the most flattering light – but although I find it satisfying to create an image that’s aesthetically pleasing, I do wonder if it’s healthy to present a side to myself that doesn’t quite fit with reality.
Social media can be a wonderful thing, allowing us to share and connect with others whilst also giving us a platform to express our thoughts and opinions to a wider audience. Yet social media also has its downsides – it can open us up to potential judgement, make us vulnerable, and also have a negative effect on our mental health. When it comes to our virtual lives we have the power to edit what we want our friends/followers to see, but could this lead to confusion between what’s real and what isn’t?
Instagram isn’t the only social media platform where perfection has become a dominant theme. How often do you scroll through Facebook these days and see something other than your friends’ perfect holiday photos/wedding pictures/baby snaps? I often question whether I’m guilty of this. Though I rarely use Facebook, I’ve only ever posted images of happy times on both platforms. It can be hard to admit when life has become difficult, harder still to admit it online.
But I’m not asking people to post about their problems for the whole world to hear, I just want to make sure that the perfection we (sometimes) seek online isn’t seeping into our everyday lives. It’s okay to say out loud that you’ve had a dreadful day, that you’re struggling, or perhaps even to confess that your ‘perfect weekend away’ was disaster-filled and that you cobbled together a handful of images to post on Instagram just to convince yourself and everyone else otherwise.
So perhaps the real question is this: are we purposefully editing the bad stuff from our everyday lives in order to substantiate the picture-perfect virtual worlds that we’ve created for ourselves? And does it matter? Perhaps online we’re just presenting ourselves in our best light – like wearing make-up, doing our hair, putting on our favourite clothes. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to focus on the most beautiful parts of ourselves instead of the everyday hum-drum that we can often find ourselves bogged down in.
Of course, not everyone uses social media in such a way and perhaps that’s why Instagram can be as inspiring and uplifting as it can sometimes appear limiting. There are plenty of Instagrammers out there employing a warts-and-all approach to their feeds and for them I have the upmost respect and admiration. I always find it incredibly brave when people post images of themselves, or their lives, during tougher times. It reminds us that life can be a struggle for everyone.
So, whether you decide to curate the world’s most beautiful IG account to counterbalance the chaos of ordinary life or if you prefer to present yourself in a way that’s completely true to form, just make sure that you don’t find yourself editing the person you are in real life. After all, life’s complexities can’t be summed up in a flat lay and the best filter in the world won’t beautify the really tough stuff.
What do you think? Do you use Instagram and are you happy following users who always post ‘perfect’ images? Or do you think it’s important for us to show a truer side to ourselves? Let me know in the comments below!
📷: Helena Lopes from Pexels