PUT THE PHONE DOWN

Instagram is bad for your mental health. Let that sink in for a minute.

I have read this headline time and again and yet, this time, it struck a nerve.

This unnerving feeling was nothing but a reminder of my occasional social media fueled sense of inadequacy. If you have ever fallen into the dark hole of someone else's glossy Instagram feed, you will know the feeling.

Instagram can conjure up all at once, a world of beauty and inspiration, and an unyielding feeling of anxiety -  product of its somewhat painful display of all the places you haven't been to, things you haven't done and milestones you haven't yet hit.

IRL, I am a hard-working, confident woman with a set a values that far outweigh any #goals prescribed by our consumer driven society. Yet a few scrolls in and that confidence wanes. If what I see is to be believed, the rest of the world is currently on holiday in *insert lustworthy tropical destination* and sporting perfectly tanned toned bodies. In times like these, it is easy to overlook the mental asterisk reminding us that nothing in insta-utopia* is quite what it seems..

Whether a photo was taken from a flattering angle, edited in a certain way or depicting an obnoxiously perfect scene, it obscures the fact that for the most part, none of it is real (as understood in the most basic sense of the word).

Real /ˈrē(ə)l/: actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact

What you don’t see, is the food that was cold when it finally got eaten, the stretch marks that graced the very real body before Photoshop did away with them and the effort that went into staging a ‘candid’ shot.

And the fact is, it has become increasingly hard to distance oneself from the online world; which only serves to show how much of a hold it has on the real one. We live in an increasingly digitalised world, against which the strongest defence mechanism can only be a strong sense of perspective. 

Because perhaps what resonates the most, is how much we fail to appreciate the deceptive nature of Instagram. This is the result of use rather than design. Instagram is by nature a creative outlet, a medium for photographic content creation. Whereas creativity and embellishment often go hand in hand, on this platform, the existence of the latter is often obscured by the former. This makes it all too easy to forget what Instagram truly is: an artfully curated, skillfully filtered and edited version of reality. 

So when the things you see start affecting the way you feel, it's time to put the phone down.

 

*Insta-utopia: an idealised world where everyone leads a perfect, aesthetically pleasing existence, impervious to life's troubles.