Remember flip phones? That was a simpler time. A time when people weren’t judged based on how many likes they got or how many followers they had. A time when you didn’t have to see how happy your ex and his new bae look in a post on Instagram. A time when Facetune didn’t exist, and everyone kept it real in pictures.
Photography used to be an art form and photos were rare, captured only the most special moments, and were celebrated in museums, not scrolled past on dark screens. Today, the iPhone, an item we never leave home without, has put itty-bitty cameras in everyone’s hands… just point and click.
This is an intervention. We need to stop spending all of our time looking at what other people are doing, and, even worse, doing everything just because we want to post about it.
Think about it. High school freshmen take photos with red solo cups so their viewers think they drink adult beverages. College freshmen take photos with strangers to prove to their tiger moms that they’ve made friends. People PURCHASE likes and followers with REAL MONEY to earn the highly esteemed status of “instafame”.
I’m not going to sit on my high horse and tell you to “get off Instagram, enjoy your life, and not care who sees it” (because I’m currently editing my next post while writing this article). But, that doesn’t mean that Instagram hasn’t done us all a major disservice: combining our species’ natural tendency to show off with the ability to quickly capture an average moment and make it into a masterpiece.
Instagram has taught us to compete over appearances, not authentic experiences. Ex-partners posting with their new SO to show off how much they’re thriving post-breakup. Adolescents posting photos of their Christmas gifts to show off newly unwrapped Xboxes. A tiger dad posting photos of his 12-year-old’s youth soccer trophy to show off his daughter’s achievements. Instagram models posting photos of their outfits every. single. day. to show off both their looks and their refined wardrobes. Every post has the same motive: to show off.
Instagram has also sparked overwhelming feelings of inadequacy—like our real lives aren’t cool enough to post about. If the pink in the real sunset isn’t bright enough, I put the photo in VSCO, add the C2 filter, and adjust the contrast. If my pimple is exposed in my selfie, I put the photo in Facetune, cover that blemish, and smooth out my skin. If my photo looked kind of average, I retake it on HUJI, add an Afterlight filter, and increase the grain effect. This is crazy. When did we decide that reality isn’t “instaworthy”? When did posting photos without a filter become noticeable and indie?
The quality of our social media presence has become a huge part of how we attribute value, both to ourselves and to others. We have normalized capturing every single moment, and then doctoring our truths ex post facto to create an idealized version of events, one that we feel is worth presenting to the world. Today, the value of a moment largely depends upon how many likes the post about it gets. If my picture of myself at the Grand Canyon only gets 24 likes, it was clearly a lame experience. But, if my picture of the coffee I picked up this morning gets 384 likes, it was obviously the best damn coffee I’ve ever had.
You (and everyone else) scroll through Instagram at a speed of 150 mph: Swipe… Swipe… Double tap…. Swipe… Swipe… Double tap. A double tap means nothing more to you than what it is: you, tapping your thumb on a screen, twice. Don’t let a double tap affect your confidence and self-worth. Appreciate yourself and your photos. Experience moments for yourself, take photos for yourself, and create posts for yourself.
We need to put the real value back into pictures—and into LIFE. We need to be selective and choose moments to experience, rather than simply to capture. We need to judge ourselves and our moments by how we feel, not by how many people double tap on them.
I don’t need to see photos of the 7 steps you took to make your mac-n-cheese dinner. I don’t need to see your tea bag’s “morning mantra.” And I most definitely don’t need to see a photo of you and bae making out every month because your relationship has lasted another 30 days. You can keep those moments private.
…but please follow me on Instagram and like all my pics! XD