I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts folder for months now, and after all the kerfluffle last week with the 18-year-old Instagram “celebrity” throwing a hissy fit and then Helene’s excellent post about it, I thought, well, now’s as good a time as any.
First, this post is very largely influenced by the fact that I have chosen to live in a world that is to some extent consumed with social media. I could talk about this to my husband or other friends with “normal” jobs who only view Facebook and Instagram as ways to share their experiences with their friends and family, or who only see Pinterest as a way to save recipes and hairstyles and DIY projects, and they wouldn’t really get it the way bloggers and online business owners and marketers do. So, I want to acknowledge that all this “controversy” and debate and the brain power wasted on it is exclusive to a pretty small subset of the population.
Said population, that I am a part of — yes, by choice — is literally bombarded with messages telling us that social media is ruining our lives. That Facebook is making us depressed, that Instagram is making us narcissistic, that Pinterest is giving us inferiority complexes. We’re told that we are wasting our lives on social networks, that they’re draining our energy and ruining our sleep patterns and just generally making us really unhealthy and unhappy.
And then when some girl who, as far as I can tell, totally bought into the wack-a-doodle business model of Instagram, had a nervous breakdown over it, all the media outlets are just gleeful about the resulting commentary and controversy. “Social media isn’t real.” No shit. Why is that such a terrible thing?
And then we get all the “big name” bloggers and life coaches and whoever piping in to remind us that Instagram is controlling our lives and it’s so important to log out of it or turn off the notifications and we need to stay present which is impossible to do if we’re on Facebook all the time and we’re not getting inspired by it and remember nothing’s real on Instagram and that makes it bad and if you’re on social media you should be authentic about it and here are all my tips on balancing social media detox and hey, sign up for my email list and get my TOTALLY FREE e-book on how to detox from social media!
When I read and hear shit like this over and over, I honestly get really confused. Because I really enjoy scrolling through my Instagram feed when I’m standing in line at the grocery store (it’s the freaking line at the grocery store. I don’t want or need to “stay present” for those five minutes) or waiting for my husband to get back with our beers or going to the bathroom (yep, if I liked your photo, there’s a very real chance I did so while peeing). If I get jealous or feel bad about myself it’s because I’m at the grocery or a crowded bar instead of camping on a mountaintop at the very minute, but then I start mentally planning our next hike or camping trip and get all happy for a few seconds.
Are you telling me that my experience with Instagram is really that unique? That I’m the only one in this weird population subset that is able to check Instagram or Facebook for a few minutes at a time throughout the day, double-tap a handful of pictures, maybe post something, and then…close the app and get on with my day?
I deleted my phone’s Facebook app a few weeks ago because Facebook is bugging the shit out of me (again). It took two seconds of decision-making and I deleted the app and…that’s it. My life hasn’t dramatically changed, for good or bad, since I tapped the little “x”.
Let’s be clear: No social network is perfect. I don’t “love” social media (not by a long shot), but most of what I hate about it is more how much people freak out over it. Facebook really sucks now, but it’s infiltrated my life so much that I don’t want to just close my account entirely. But it’s been really easy for me to take it off my phone and stop visiting it every day. I always roll my eyes when Facebook makes one of its trademark huge changes and my feed fills up with angry rants from people promising “THAT’S IT. FUCK FACEBOOK I’M DELETING MY ACCOUNT THEY CAN’T DO THIS.” You’re (still) not paying for Facebook and they can do whatever they want. You can choose how to use and interact with the site. (And none of those people ever actually leave Facebook, of course.)
I hear about people making such a dramatic deal over unfollowing people “because they make me feel bad about myself.” And then I feel like a smug bitch when I automatically think of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote (about the only way other people can make you feel inferior. You know the one). I like seeing pretty pictures posted by people way cooler and more accomplished and living far more exciting lives than I am. I know they’re all filtered and not “real” and who cares? I don’t really want my feed to be junked up with dark, blurry photos of unappetizing-looking food or a messy kitchen because #reallife.
If it makes you happy to take the time to photograph a perfectly staged table scene or to drive around all afternoon looking for the perfect backdrop for your outfit shot, great. Go for it. I appreciate your time and dedication.
If all this really bugs you and you’d prefer to see ugly, boring photos because they’re “authentic” and make you feel better about yourself (??), there are plenty of people on Instagram posting those photos. Change up your feed. If you find you’re happier and more productive and at peace with your life when you take the app off your phone, delete it and go on your zen way.
But please stop telling me Instagram is ruining my life when it’s really just negatively affecting yours.