Forgive the click-baity title for just a minute and hear me out.
I responded to Molly Forbes‘ tweet earlier today (which admittedly lacked context, so I was making a massive assumption on its intent)…
Remember a world without Instagram?
— Molly Forbes (@mollyjforbes) March 18, 2019
…with the words “Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who likes instagram.”
Admittedly, my response was actually borne from an influx of recent posts on the platform itself, all of which lamenting a simpler time when we weren’t driven to aspire to a perfect life, perfect body and perfect home all because of the ‘evil’ that is Instagram. Whether Molly meant to suggest that life was better pre-Instagram I don’t know, but there are certainly plenty of people out there who do feel this way and yet oddly, continue to use the platform desperate to make best use of its reach.
And yet I can’t help but feel that if your use of Instagram is making you feel bad about yourself or your life, that’s more a reflection on who you are following. If the people you’re ‘subscribed’ to have a perfect feed with colour coded squares and just-ripe avocados and cute pampered doggies (or whatever is trendy at the minute) and that makes you feel inferior, why follow them? It’s not like there’s a shortage of people who just post the day-to-day mundanity.
Or perhaps that’s the problem… perhaps people, so desperate to escape boring regular life, fall into the trap of following this aspirational bollocks, only to end up feeling worse because they don’t have “it” (whatever “it” is).
Instagram is very much a platform that is ‘what you make it’. As it stands, unlike other social network feeds which are polluted with what your mates like or have shared/retweeted, you only see stuff on Instagram that you have signed up to see (ads aside). You are the driver & you are in control.
If other user’s abs make you feel guilty about not going to the gym, or Mrs Hinch makes you feel like you’re living in a dirty hovel, or your subscription to the #urbanjungle hashtag makes you wonder why you don’t have a corner of each room dedicated to 300 varieties of house plant, it’s easy to unfollow them. It’s not compulsory to keep up with the Joneses (on Instagram or in real life).
Perhaps I’m biased. I like Instagram more than any other social network. I like being able to follow a wide range of people who tally up with my eclectic bunch of interests, and to share my ‘reality’ in a visual way. I like a feed full of life’s small blessings, the things that have made people sit up and pay attention that day. I like that it’s not overly polluted with the latest political hot take (my escape from the increasingly oppressive real world stuff on twitter etc.)
I’m not naive. I know there’s a seedy underbelly to Instagram; spammers, porn, and even more extreme “fitspo”/”thinspiration” which represents nothing more than the popularisation of socially acceptable eating disorders to name but a few. But you don’t have to support the bits you don’t like. Block the spam, report the porn, and unfollow those who make you feel less of a person. Because your crowd is out there and you shouldn’t stand for less.