At the beginning of summer vacation, every time I looked at Instagram on my phone, I seemed to see yet another perfectly filtered picture of everyone I knew. Their pictures showed relaxed looking poses and all had the trendy one word caption: happy. Everyone was off to the beach or sitting by a pool. There were tons and tons of sunset pictures, pool pictures, and even pictures at fancy restaurants in fancy hotels. As I was sitting by our pool on vacation, I felt the need to show everyone that I was having fun too. I took so many pictures of myself at the beach, at the pool, or relaxing. I even forced my little sister to take pictures of me too.
“Lena, can you take a picture of me, and this time don’t zoom in. I want the background to show!” I said
“Not again,” she complained, grabbing the phone.
We don’t like to admit it, but social media is a huge part of our lives. Taking away social media, would be like an elephant without it’s trunk. It spreads information and allows communication with others. The thing that we don’t realize is that social media makes us more narcissistic; especially teenagers. Social media makes us more self conscious about what we look like, what we do, and if we are “liked” or not. Think about all the types of social media accounts you have. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. How do they affect your life?
With Instagram, we are not only exposing our lives to others, we are also able to see other people’s pictures. Of course we want to only post good pictures, so we start to get obsessed with taking the perfect one. If we take a trip to New York City, we don’t enjoy the cheesy slice of Grimaldi’s pizza, or the beautiful buildings that tower over the people. We only focus on taking a picture of the moment instead of living it. We feel the need to post about the experience because it becomes almost mandatory to share it with other people.
As soon as we hit share, we start counting the likes our post gets. One minute passes by… then two… then ten… which turns into an hour. During that time, we’re worrying why our recent post isn’t getting enough likes. Is it because my picture wasn’t artsy enough? Was it because I’m not pretty enough? Was it uncool? Why did my picture get less likes than hers? Does it mean I’m less liked? These questions go through our heads and bring down our self esteem.
As I sat by our pool looking at Instagram, I realized that it was so much work to take the perfect picture, and that I was never satisfied with any of them because they weren’t as good as everyone else’s. I started to ask myself why I was doing this. I was only obsessing over taking the perfect picture because I wanted everyone else to see it. I was taking the picture for them, not me. I ended up deleting everything I posted that week on my Instagram. It dawned on me that I should only post because I want to share my fun experiences with others, not because I want to prove something to them.
Some people say Instagram is “my life in squares” but what we don’t understand is that our lives are becoming all about these squares. We worry about little things like having to take the perfect picture and getting enough likes, and sometimes even if our post is following the trend. Instagram makes us narcissistic. It makes us more self conscious and unhappy. It is almost apart of who we are, and we are only going to become more and more obsessed with ourselves.
What if we went on vacation without your phone? Instead of having our camera capture the moment, it would be our actual self getting to experience it. Without social media, we’re not trying to prove anything to anyone. Only we have full control of yourself, and what we choose to do. Instagram is only an app that we use in our life to connect us with other people. Instagram documents life, but it shouldn’t become our life.