It seems like everyone is on Instagram these days. Whether it’s your mum or your friend’s cat, they all have an Instagram profile.
Instead of Facebook, Instagram has become the main way people express and present themselves online. It has almost become an advertising board for the lives we lead.
However, is what we post on Instagram an accurate reflection of how we live our lives?
I’m not so sure it is. To me, Instagram has morphed into something else entirely. It has become less about who you are and more about how you want others to perceive you.
By posting snapshots of our lives online, we are selectively choosing what moments of our lives we reveal to everyone else. It’s unlikely anyone is going to post an image or video of themselves during a breakdown to Instagram.
A house and car used to be how you presented yourself to the world in the 20th century, now, the images you post on Instagram are how you do this in the 21st century.
By only posting a small portion of our lives online we are only revealing what we want to reveal. It is similar to what happened when you go travelling. You only post half of the pictures, the remainder is too bland and boring to post.
Instagram may be popular and fun, but it isn’t representative of our lives as a whole.
When you open up Instagram you have a blank canvas to play with. You have a choice of what you will post to the platform. How you present yourself to the wider world is entirely up to you.
No matter who you follow on Instagram, no one is 100% transparent about their lives on the platform. We are seeing what they want us to see. That beautiful girl you follow may look super happy in the photos, but outside of that moment, the reality could be very different.
They may be going through emotional turmoil, a breakup, family issues, none of which will be evident in the images that are posted to Instagram. The platform is a mask through which we present ourselves to the world.
As a travel blogger, I know this only too well. The images I take during my travels only reflect a certain aspect of my travels. Namely, the part I want people to see.
That is the places I have been, unique attractions in various cities, or weird places I stumble across in a new country. They reflect the image I want to present to society, which is one of me having a great time on my travels.
What they don’t reflect is the stark reality of travelling, which is that it is not as glamorous as it looks. The images don’t show me driving 5 hours to get to the Channel Tunnel just in time to make my train. They don’t show me having a panic attack in Barcelona.
Nor do they show me when I’m sat in a cafe and working for 3 to 4 hours instead of wandering around a city. If you only looked at my photos you would assume that I was always having a wonderful time, but this is not reality and a skewed perception of what I’m really doing.
Instagram is a wonderful tool for showcasing our photos and lives to the world, but we have to be careful to not take everything we see at face value.
You Are Not What You Post
I used to live with a girl who was obsessed with her appearance on Instagram. She would obsess over what images to post to the platform. The captions she posted would be carefully constructed to make her look good.
However, things were a lot different in reality.
Away from the nice images and self-promoting captions, her life wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. She was miserable a lot of the time at home, insecure, and nothing like the image of herself she presented on Instagram.
For all intents and purposes, she was living a lie.
She wanted to be the person she promoted on Instagram so much, that she thought that by posting these images it would magically happen. But, that’s not how life works. Social media is a mask, and when you meet that person in reality, the mask will slip, no matter how hard someone tries to keep it on.
What we post online does not equate to who we are. We need to remember that Instagram is a platform designed to share photos and videos. It isn’t meant to be an advert for ourselves to the world.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t post what you want to Instagram, because you can. But, what you post does not reflect your life. It only reflects what you want it to reflect. Instagram is not a game. There isn’t a way you win at Instagram, it’s just an app for photos at its core.
By remembering this, we do not fall into the trap of narcissism and do not fall prey to taking what we see at face value. We need to remember that behind the photos there is a person that is very much like you and me, no matter how much they try to prove that they aren’t.