Instagram came onto the scene several years ago now, and has grown at a record rate since its inception, with 40 million photos uploaded every day. That’s a hell of a lot of people cropping, filtering, sharing and documenting their run-of-the-mill meals, mates and dates.
But herein lies the magic of Instagram. Thursday isn’t just the average day where you walked your dog, sat on the sofa scrolling for hours, only getting up to make avocado-on-toast in between series 100 and 101 of Friends. It is transformed into the day you shared your food porn to the world, posted a funny picture of Joey’s ‘how you doin’?’ face and, to top it all off, you got to #throwbackthursday (the highlight of everybody’s week on Instagram).
The accessibility of Instagram and the ease with which you can scroll through hundreds of friend’s and stranger’s photos, watching the selfies flash by whilst the minutes pass by, makes it an appealing option when we find a spare moment.
But it is this ease and the particular format of Instagram which could prove to be problematic. It’s a two-way street, where the majority of people post frequently as well as following others and looking at their posts. The relationship between the two seems to breed feelings of self-awareness and insecurity even greater than its blue-faced brother, Facebook. A photo is worth a thousand words, but it’s also worth more than the 140 characters allowed on Twitter. You don’t have to be witty, observant or have an exciting life to reel in the followers on Instagram – you just have to know how to choose a flattering filter and you’re able to make your life look instantly more appealing.
This culture of dressing mutton as lamb is having a negative impact, apparently without us realising. By cropping and filtering the moments in our lives, we are assuming that the original is inadequate. We have suddenly been given the gift of portraying our lives in an aesthetically pleasing way, and we’ve fallen for it hook, line and sinker.
At the same time, I’m not going to abruptly delete my Instagram, in the same way I failed to delete my Facebook, because this is the virtual world which has transformed into a very significant aspect of reality. It’s true, a vast amount of people have added another setting to the way they perceive their environment, a setting which relies upon likeability, good aesthetics and a correlation with that individual’s concept of their ideal self. But this is a process which has been occurring in humanity for a very long time; self-awareness is an intrinsic part of who we are.
There’s also a vast amount of people who don’t tweet, ‘gram, Facebook – and consequently don’t overshare. Like my dad and my granny who go so far as to call social media ‘disgusting’. But for those of us who like a pat on the back and will unashamedly construct our own idealistic brand to get our kicks, it’s not the end of the world; just another way for us to distract ourselves from the harsh reality of how basic we all really are.