Everyone wants to be known for something. Whether that be as a Broadway actress, a renowned book author, or a powerful politician; people are driven by a desire to feel important. That’s where “Instagram Influencer” comes in as a slightly more attainable, yet significant, position of power. Influencers wear beautiful clothing, travel to exotic places, and take awe-worthy pictures; all the while becoming rich by flaunting their lust-worthy lives. The age of Influencers feels as if it’s been going on forever, even though its been no more than a few years.
Instagram began as an easily accessible platform for people to connect with their friends and acquaintances through sharing photographs. Within less than a decade, however, Instagram grew from an interactive, friendly platform to one of the most powerful business platforms today with over 25 million business profiles advertising to Instagram’s 1 billion monthly active users. The magnetic pull that this once insignificant app has on people is remarkable yet concerning.
Not only does social media consume peoples’ time, it redefines their priorities and life choices by influencing them to live for a photo op rather than for internal happiness. People become convinced that if they post the most exciting Instagram stories and take the most beautiful photos to add to their aesthetically arranged feed, other people will think that they’re living a glamorous life worth envying. I became captive to this narrative as well. I would go to specific restaurants or traverse somewhere deep in the city just for a photo op. I would wear a stylish outfit for 30 minutes just to take a photo and then change because it was so uncomfortable.
It was as if I was living a different life on social media than I was in real life. As if social media itself was a filter that sifted out all of the bad and emphasized the good-even if the good wasn’t necessarily true.
While I don’t think that wanting to take a picture in a cute outfit or exploring different places and taking pictures of them is something to be ashamed of, I do think that there’s a difference between living a perfectly curated life for others to see and living a genuine, blemished life for oneself.
I haven’t written on this blog in over 4 months. Not because I didn’t want to but because I didn’t know what to write about. It seemed like when I took away that desire for recognition and importance through what I wrote and posted, I wasn’t sure what I actually wanted to write about as opposed to what I thought I should write about. I wanted to write about sustainability but not about buying products because, honestly, the antithesis of sustainability is buying new things, no matter how sustainable they are. I wanted to write about the world and offer hope but it seemed like another oversatured topic where I couldn’t offer any new, useful information. I posted on Instagram less and less as I focused on spending time with my loved ones rather than worrying what hundreds of people I don’t know thought about my life.
I never intended to stop trying to be an influencer but the more I reconnected with my child-like ambitions, the more I found myself not craving social affirmations. In a way, I was re-inventing myself back to who I was before I lived my life around Instagram. Not that I wasn’t myself during all of that time, I just wasn’t portraying an honest version of myself. I was trying so hard to prove that I was someone I wanted to be and didn’t pay enough attention to who I already am.
As theatrical as it sounds, social media can consume your life if you let it. It can dictate where you go on vacation, what clothing you buy, even who you’re friends with. It encourages surface-level interactions and relationships and, therefore, creates a level of insincerity in everyday life.
I’m not saying that someone can’t live a happy, fulfilled life while posting on social media. If I were saying that, I’d be a hypocrite because I still enjoy posting on social media for my friends and family to see. I believe that Instagram is a powerful business tool that has aided many people and businesses I know. But, this being said, I also believe that it’s important to take a step back once in a while to reevaluate your motivations for posting and how connected you are to this little app on your phone.
How would you feel if one day Instagram just disappeared?
How would your everyday habits and decisions change?
Who would you be friends with and what would you do in your free time?
A few years ago I would say that my habits and decisions would drastically change. I wouldn’t be spending my free time dressing up between classes to take pictures to post and I might even have a different group of friends. Instagram was a part of my life-a part of my identity and I couldn’t imagine myself without it.
A few days ago I asked myself these questions and realized that now, I would be completely fine if Instagram disappeared. None of my daily decisions revolve around Instagram and posting a picture isn’t something I add to my “to-do” list every few days like I used to. I have more time for the people and activities I love-even if it’s not always aesthetic. I’m not trying to be an influencer and act like I’m someone I’m not because I’ve realized that I’m happier just being me.