Social media is an outlet –it’s a place we go to get away from the world while connecting to it. People from a few decades ago might not understand that statement, but today it’s bound to get the majority of heads nodding. Social media is our fix, it’s the place we go to when we need a break, comfort, or escape. It helps us cope when the real world is too much. But what’s been happening lately is that social media has become people’s lives –they spend all of their waking hours perfecting their online persona and taking pictures rather than having experiences. The king and queen of the internet have had a baby and it’s a real royal son-of-a-b*tch; Instagram hit the scene and people were never so addicted to the internet as they are now. It’s a fleet of figures and followers who intertwine to become some cyber experiment. Social media should be a place of enjoyment, but with Instagram, it looks like the pressure is on. The pressure is so high that some people are even closing their accounts for fear of being judged, harassed, harmed, or even killed. And it’s not just followers making the threats, we make threats to ourselves if we, somehow, don’t meet the Instagram status we hope for. It’s all madness under the guise of fun and the truth is the pressures are more than some of us can handle.
Instagram makes work look fun. Work is not fun. We know this. We know this because we do it every day and we hate it. We know this because it’s hard to get out of bed every morning. We know this because we compare our work with others and realize how miserable we are. Instagram is a liar. People advertise the best moments of their work days; perhaps this makes them feel better about their lives and the mundane aspects of their work. As a result, Instagram followers see work photos that make work look glamorous and thrilling and they begin to grumble and groan about their own jobs. Remember there are filters for everything on Instagram which makes even the dullest event appear shiny. When Instagram makes work look fun and exciting you should immediately be suspicious. Unless the work is not really work and it’s living a dream or a passion, everything else is just hustle or work for pay.
Everyone seems to be traveling these days. They go farther and farther, to the most remote places, to do the most extreme activities. No longer is the standard backpacking trip acceptable, people want extreme backpacking. No longer are popular cities and countries acceptable, people want remote, unheard of places. So while all of that is happening, Instagram captures it all. For those who have a low-key sense of travel, they might begin to feel that their travels don’t match up to what others are doing. Instagram has got us comparing our travels with others and it's putting pressure on us to travel according to a new standard, a standard that might not be suitable or comfortable for us. We go bigger distances, spend bigger, play bigger, eat and drink bigger. Instagram has taken a very personal experience like travel and turned it into a competition. Shame on you, Instagram.
Do not misinterpret the inclusion of education in this list. Success in education has been proven to work through a bit of competition and pressure, so there’s nothing wrong there. But what can be wrong is when people use their education to make others feel worse about themselves. Some people on Instagram brag about education and forget that it’s a privilege to be able to have an education; look at many countries around the world that don’t even meet the basic requirements for proper school systems. Some people on Instagram post pictures of books to show off what they’ve just read. Some people on Instagram don’t realize that education is a luxury and it should not be flaunted in the faces of others. If anything, education is a way to empower us, but it most definitely is not a way to take power away from others or remove the power of books. Education is a weapon and it should be dealt with careful, delicately, and with good intention.
The men and women of Instagram got us feeling super scrubby. Their fashion is so on point that our own points seem dull and blunt in comparison. The men and women of Instagram take photos of their latest purchase, the bag, the receipt, the product, the pics outside the store, the first time use of the product. It’s a big to-do and a lot of hoopla over a product. However, on Instagram this is news, this is the update, this is the picture that’s been selected to be part of the feed. This puts an extreme amount of pressure for followers to have a similar wardrobe despite, perhaps, a large gap in socio-economic status. Now everyone wants to have that designer's shoes or hat or ring or jacket or t-shirt. And without much consideration for necessities, sometimes people will spend outside of their means just to have such a product. Fashion, while a form of art, is really just stuff we put on our bodies. Should you not be able to keep up with an Instagram persona, find a way to make a fashion statement your own way, a way that suits you, your lifestyle, and your budget.
We get it, the world loves food and pictures of food. Food is the most acceptable addiction on the planet, and it’s no surprise as some Instagram feeds are teeming with food galore. A shopping list, the produce at the supermarket, the food as it cooks, the final product, the classic about-to-take-a-bite shot. On Instagram we get the whole food experience. We even get the food experience of fancy restaurants and foods full of cruelty. It might not be easy for Instagramers to see, but those photos can really be triggers for those who suffer from eating disorders or for those who don’t have enough food. The pressure to eat a certain way, to eat aesthetically pleasing foods, gourmet foods, exclusive foods is enough to drive anyone mad. Then there’s the pressure of the clean eating diets and the like. The one bonus might be that now veganism is all the rage; let’s hope it’s not just a fad like most things that catch the public’s attention.
Workouts are competitive by nature because they push us to our limits. But with Instagram, workouts are more sports-centered than ever. Workouts are longer, tougher, more complex –there’s never been workouts like the ones you see on Instagram today. Working out and documenting it on Instagram is its own beast now; ready to take on, challenge, and demolish anyone who gets in its way. These Instagram pics are not for the faint of heart. They are not even for those who aren’t very physical. For those just starting a workout routine, the pressure of the Instagram workout is enough to stop anyone in her tracks. The world of Instagram workouts means that if you’re not hitting as hard as they are, you’re clearly not doing it right. In reality, not everyone can keep up with the kind of routine portrayed on Instagram. That’s a lot of pressure, but it’s also a lot of BS, too.
The Instagram body is a body that cannot be contended with; the Instagram body is not real. With so many angles and filters and lighting and shadow play, it’s guaranteed that any and all flaws can be covered up, erased, or Photoshopped. Instagram has us idolizing the body that’s not even real. These are bodies that are tailored for the internet; many of these bodies have also been tailored by plastic surgery or injections. The Instagram body is the body of the future because au-naturel is a fad that’s long since gone out the door. Today it’s about rounded chests and butts and slender waists. Today it’s about actually achieving the Barbie body because science and technology make that possible. It’s no wonder that thousands of girls are rushing out to go under the knife all in the name of internet acceptance. It's a sad reality which shows the kind of pressure Instagram is placing on us.
If the workouts and bodies aren’t enough, the issue of weight comes in to compound everything into a really scary scene. The weight issues caused by Instagram pander to the extremes. The curvy but slender gal or the model-thin chick are perfectly at home on Instagram, but all those in between suffer greatly. There isn’t really a space for the average girl. Even the average girls, those plus-size girls, aren’t really average after all as they are actual knockouts. So where do real normal girls find their reflections? And what about the eating disorder inducing Instagram pages where girls compete for thinness. It’s equally as bad as the competition for body perfection that spawns cosmetic surgery. The pressure to look a certain way, to be at a certain weight for your height is bogus and Instagram followers should be well-informed that the majority of those pressures are external. It’s the inside that counts. Instagram should make that their disclaimer.
If it’s not the brave, no-filter, just-woke-up-make-up-free-face post, then it’s the from-basic-to-baddie that really gets the followers. There’s certainly a dichotomy when it comes to women’s beauty and these two ends of the spectrum can cause immense pressure, guilt, and anxiety for many women. Not to mention that girls then feel the pressure to either be naturally beautiful or a glamorous make-up diva; if she doesn’t fall into one of these Instagram categories she’s out –she’s not part of either crew. There are so many ideas of beauty and none of it should really be connected to make-up. Then there’s the pressure to be a certain type –Instagram caters to those concepts. The pressure to be beautiful is then attributed to the outside and leaves girls who like books and studying and art by the wayside. There’s so much more to a really beautiful woman besides how she looks with or without make-up. Get it together, Instagram.
Instagram promotes perfection and when it comes to complexion, perfection is not realistic. Obtaining a clear, clean complexion is a struggle and with pollution and foods full of preservatives, glowing skin can seem an impossible goal. But according to Instagram, skin perfection is just a few clicks away. This blemish-free, smooth as a baby’s butt complexion can be tougher for some than others; but if you can’t get there with a few filters, you’ll look as Photoshopped as the next Instagram account holder. Healthy skin has a lot to do with genetics and environmental stimuli; some women are not blessed in either department. It can be really disappointing for any female to realize she doesn’t match up to the perfect complexion; but even more so when the complexion she seeks is one that’s created by technology and not by genetics. That makes the real life you feel like a worse version of what people see
Instagram messes with our self-esteem in many ways. It puts pressure on us to buy, wear, do, and be certain things; it seems like our natural-born selves aren’t good enough and that can feel really depressing. Depression is on the rise among women and has been in the last couple of decades. Instagram messes with who we are and tries to re-wire us, re-package us, and sell us on their site. From a few photos and captions, we are seduced into the world of Instagram and all the self-esteem bashing it’s ready to inflict upon us. It’s as though we’re a glutton for punishment, though; for who else can we blame but ourselves for keeping our accounts open, following the queens and goddesses of Instagram, and letting the system take yet another jab at our vulnerable little egos and hearts. After a while, some people just can't take it anymore.
The standards that Instagram sets are not realistic. These standards are based upon some virtual concept of life, sexuality, and gender. Most everything it puts out is a way for us to feel less happy about ourselves and what we’ve got. Instagram keeps us second-guessing ourselves, keeps us unsatisfied, and keeps us searching for that unattainable standard of life, beauty, and character that only seems possible from behind the computer screen. Instagram standards are like most other social media standards –it’s all a bunch of nonsense created to distract us from our real purpose and our real selves. Left to such devices, we get caught up and confused and decidedly conform to some standard that has nothing to do with our organic selves. Nobody wants that. If you can't be your authentic self then ultimately you're going to wind up feeling unhappy. Forget what everyone else is doing and just do you.
The pressure to have, have, have, which is a by-product of the Instagram market, damages wallets and self-esteem alike. It’s convincing us that we need to have a specific looking body, face, and life in order to fit in; and if we don’t have it, if we don’t have that life that’s advertised on Instagram then we’d better work harder and faster and go out there and buy it. It can all be bought, really; with some dedication and focus, the Instagram lifestyle can be purchased. And what are we working towards anyways? A life that imitates fiction, a life that is fraudulent at best, a life that is full of tangible props; the typical Instagram account is founded upon a falsifying of reality. We are no longer happy with basic capitalism anymore, it’s become bigger and better just like our cars, our clothing, our bodies. The capitalist wheels turns round and round as the feed scrolls down and further down.
Most social media leads us down the path to fakeness. And none are as formidable as Instagram. As a result of the iPhone craze, Instagram was born. So not only are we completely addicted to our phones, but we’re attached to a false sense of reality via Instagram. We are propelled into capitalist cycles and pressures to be pseudo-selves. None of it is real. Tell yourself again, none of it is real. It only looks real and that’s the appeal, that’s the gimmick, and that’s the trap. Real life is happening right in front of you if you put down your phone for a second. Instagram moments, hashtags, documenting everything for all your cyber friends can be cool, but when it becomes a way of life you’re really missing the point; and even sadder, you’re missing out on real life. Don’t live the life of an Instagram figure or follower, live the life of a real person who existed before Instagram and who exists despite of Instagram. Don’t pressure yourself to be something that’s only been created by someone holding an Instagram account. Don’t strive to be a non-person.
The Instagram life makes our regular lives seem dull and boring. It even makes regular life appear as though it’s not real life. Life is charming and life is done away from the iPhone screen. Instagram makes people, food, and bodies into some unrealistic expectation that followers are trying to achieve. People are trying to achieve non-lives because the Instagram life, like the Photoshopped body, is not real, it doesn’t exist –the internet and its creators are telling us straight up lies and we’re buying them hook, line, and sinker. We get caught up in it. We swim in it. We act like it’s our oxygen. Our reality has been a series of internet codes, filters, and unattainable expectations. This is hard. This is really hard. And the worry each follower has is that she is not living life to the fullest because her life doesn’t look like the Instagram life. Until we understand, like really understand, that Instagram is a liar, the sooner we can move on with our realities. Instagram is not reality, it’s fiction contrived, constructed, and created for messing with our perception and self-worth.