Why I Only Recently Made An Instagram Account

I only recently made an Instagram. To be specific, about nine months ago. For context, I am a first-year at Mason and most of my friends made one when the craze started, when I was in seventh grade. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Instagram boom that happened, and possibly with how the culture or what is common to post, has changed over these eight years. I’m going to be explaining how this culture pushed me away from ever wanting to make an Instagram and how it can touch on toxic friendships that we might have experienced when we were younger.

At Instagram’s very youth, posting multiple times a day, about rather normal things was commonplace. I would sometimes look at my friends’ feeds with them, seeing a slew of alarm clocks stating the (very) early time we middle schoolers had to wake up at. While my friends encouraged me to make an Instagram, I thought my life was not that interesting and I would not have anything to post. Behind this rather benign concern of not having something to post was the anxiety that would come with stressing relentlessly on how others would perceive my posts if I did decide to post anything; how they would judge my life and how I would appear to them. This stress was not random but had been instilled within me from many toxic friendships that left me hurt and with some major trust issues. What was two-faced “friends” being nicer to others and ignoring me, to them making plans without including me right in front of me in elementary school manifested itself as an anxiety of receiving (or not receiving) likes from certain people in middle and high school. I could literally imagine a friend commenting on someone else’s selfie and not mine or certain people that would be nice to my face would not like my picture. My sensitivity, paired with untrustworthy, deceiving and plain hurtful friendships in the past made the like and comment sections a breeding ground for the same hurt to me.

This viewpoint only intensified as I went through high school when we had more freedom to go out more often, to more “Instagram-worthy” places, with your girl gang. I overheard classmates compliment my friends’ Instagram posts depicting them and other peers out at restaurants, parks or even concerts, which I had no idea was going on and obviously had not gotten an invitation to. While feeling left out is a problem within itself, rooted in toxicity, I was fine with being in the dark about my exclusion. As they say, “ignorance is bliss.” Again, because of past experiences with belittling friends, who would shut down my vocalized concerns with lies and fake promises and hope, I was content in high school with having these “friends” be just that to my face but be making plans and going out without me behind my back. But Instagram broke this perception I had of a loyal friend group. I did not want to see what other people, especially my friends, were doing without me behind my back. I did not want to see a supposed friend like another girl’s post without liking mine, I did not want to see a friend hyping someone else’s picture while ignoring mine. I did not want the cracks in my friendships to be exposed out of fear of getting hurt again. This is why I kept myself in the dark.

Related: The Purge: 5 Reasons You Should Be Cleansing Your Social Media for Your Sanity

Once I left high school, however, I did not feel as obligated to follow any of my high school friends and thought that I could create an Instagram to post my outfits, for me. I do not have a lot of followers and the ones I do are family and family friends and those not really active in what I like to call, “hype culture.” I follow more meme and cat accounts than real people and love it this way. You might be reading this, thinking of me as a coward, relying on the shield of ignorance to keep me from unloyal friendships and hurt rather than actually confronting someone. But not having an Instagram helps me not care as much about how people act towards me, which makes me happier. I do not have to obsess over how X left three hearts on Y’s selfie and did not even use an exclamation point in her “cute” comment on mine. I find myself as having a more clear, grounded mindset as a result of not being surrounded by the drama that can come with social media.

How you prefer to navigate and live your social life is up to you, and there is no right or wrong way to approach toxic drama. It not only depends on your situation (more serious issues may require confrontation or complete ghosting) but also on your comfort levels. At the end of the day, you are the most important person in your life and you should do what is comfortable with you and what will result with your happiness. Good luck in this age of social media, collegiettes!