Instagram: Social Media Saviour and Authenticity Assassin

Jade Szymanski | Contributor

Social media is fake. Social media is not real. Social media distorts the truth. I don’t know how else to get that message across to you little baby sheep out there, but I hope you possess some ounce of self-awareness in that thick skull of yours because it seems like the majority of millennials right now are prisoners to social media. With Instagram being the most popular jail cell at the moment, I am making a call to action for anyone and everyone willing to hear me out; remove the dependency and emotional attachment to your carefully crafted image, persona, and presence on social media.

Now I’ll be the first to admit my love for Instagram; I’m a social media slut and I’ll own that title and all of the judgement that comes with it. I love the whole process of the social media experience; it sings your name as it beckons you to decide what type of image and aesthetic you want to portray to the world. You can choose your best qualities and moments, and project them for everyone to drool over as you stash away your flaws and imperfections, only to be seen by your therapist on the third Monday of every month. You get to edit your pictures with groovy filters and accompany them with wholesome captions. You have the authority to tag all your friends’ beaming faces to show everyone how happy and popular you are, and tag your location as well so you can put on display how cultured and diverse you are. After these steps, the rest of the experience is in the hands of your followers. They dictate how many likes and comments you receive; each one validating how amazing your life is, and each missed one leaving you to question where in the editing process you went wrong. And when you decide to click on your own profile to admire the collection of pictures you have accumulated over the past couple of years, you can only hope that the pride you are currently feeling translates into jealousy and awe from your followers who are looking at the exact same thread of images. Just as you create content for your followers, you too are indeed a follower for someone else who is posting their life and you constantly are comparing yourself to them. The emotional attachment tethered to how much user interaction and validation you receive is my first reason as to why Instagram should be burned at the stake.

Instagram has created an experience for its users that keep them coming back 10, 20, 30 times a day; constantly refreshing their page to feel connected to the people around them. If the experience I just described seems so fun and rewarding, what could be the downside of sharing your life with the rest of the world? The next reason Instagram is the antichrist, is that it creates unrealistic expectations and realities for the people you are sharing your photos with. When people only see note-worthy events from your life, they don’t get to know the real you. The real you that was shaped by the time you slept through your ecology midterm. The real you that was shaped by the time you ate some grapes off the kitchen floor because no one was looking. The real you that was shaped by the time you cried because you spent too much time on WebMD and thought you were dying. Nobody is perfect or glamourous to the point that Instagram depicts, and that’s the beef that I have with social media.

Exposure. The final reason as to why the Instagram obsession needs to be put out with a firehose. Personally, my carefully crafted Instagram aesthetic is based around the outdoors and all of the amazing adventures available in BC. However, as much as I try to go to new places that aren’t too popular, I recognize that I still add to the movement of people that bring exposure to remote areas and make them a target area for mass tourism. Hikes and campsites that are normally sacred to a select amount of people gets put on blast on Instagram to the point where these places are no longer being visited for its beauty but for its likeability factor on Instagram.

It may seem quite hypocritical for some trying-to-be-trendy teenage girl to be writing about the faults in the social media and Instagram brainwash currently guiding our society, but it just takes some unmasking of the harsh reality to start your journey to self-awareness. The three E’s of despair; emotional attachment, expectations, and exposure will always be looming in the depths of social media and it’s up to you to be led by blissful ignorance or break free from your societal shackles. It takes tiny little steps, and as proof that it can be done, I’ll lead by example by not leaving my Instagram handle at the end of this article even though the followers I’d gain would be huge. Like massive. I’m truly an American hero.