Is it just me or do our lives revolve around Instagram? I spend the majority of my day on it (ashamedly) and it’s where I find out what all of my friends are up to, where they are and is a place I find new spots to take good Instagram photos.
It seems that I spend a lot of my time thinking about my next post to the ‘Gram, what I can post on my story to make it look like I’m living my best life, how I can filter my photo, the best and (occasionally) funny captions, when is the ‘peak’ time to post on the platform and of course, how many likes am I going to get and at what point do I take it down and pretend I never posted it?
But Lord above, there are so many more important things to worry about on this planet besides Instagram. Remember the days we would post the most random things that we liked and it wasn’t about the likes but more because you just liked the picture? Where did those days go? Now we have ring-lights, FaceTune and are buying outfits purely for a photo on Instagram.
I’ve spoken before about ways Instagram can affect your mental health and also how life can sometimes feel like a numbers game. There is so much more to life than how many likes you get on a picture, and here are five of them:
1. Spending time with real people
If you’ve read the book Lost Connections by Johann Hari (and if you haven’t, you should) then you will know how important real life connections are to our mental health and overall well-being. Just being in the company of others makes us feel more valued, raises our self-esteem and is just generally better for us. Scrolling through Instagram watching other people live their best lives is not going to make us feel good about ourselves in the slightest.
I’ve said before that me moving to New York with the program I’m on is a lot to do with the fact that we live with 100 other interns. When I lived in London I had the best year, but it was rather lonely at times since I didn’t know many people in the city. I even found myself crying out for the Burn on a Saturday night when I watched my friends’ Snapchat stories. But in New York? I am yet to feel one ounce of homesickness (sorry mum) if only a few times for Liverpool. And I really think it’s because I’m constantly surrounded by friends and just being around people and having a good time.
You can’t make connections on Instagram as well as you can in real life. You just can’t. Get out there, speak to someone face to face and feel a bit of human connection for a change. And that doesn’t mean a WiFi connection.
2. Reading a book
What can you learn from Instagram? Other than what new Halloween costume Kim Kardashian has dressed her family in. Granted, there are some educational accounts out there and we can learn valuable things from wellness and fitness influencers but in the grand scheme of things, seeing everyone post pictures of their 5pm after-work-drinks is not going to gain any of us more brain cells.
So instead of swiping-up for an outfit you don’t need or watching a run-through of someone’s night out in your local nightclub, pick up a book and educate yourself instead.
Granted, I haven’t been as good on the reading front since I moved to New York, but I’ve recently bought myself four new books and fully intend on getting back into the habit of reading books that will help me grow and develop. Check out my book reviews here for inspiration on what to buy.
3. Taking pictures you actually like
Who invented the selfie? When was it invented and what was the person who first turned the camera to face them thinking in that moment?
When Instagram first started out, I remember posting everything and anything to the platform, not just a constant series of pictures of me. There were pictures of my cats, of concerts, buildings and clothes that I had bought. I didn’t care about how many likes I would receive, only the content that I was capturing.
I mean, in thirty years time when you are going through old photos for memories with your children/grandchildren, do you really want to be surrounded by 1,000 photos of images of just you that have been filtered beyond belief? Wouldn’t you rather have photos of your friends, places you went, things you seen and photos that bring back great memories?
We’ve become a very vain society and this is why we’re continuously doctoring our faces with filler and botox so that we look better on Instagram, not for real life. Honestly, what has the world come to?
4. Living your own life, not someone else’s
It’s very easy to start living someone else’s life through their Instagram. You become so wrapped up with how their day has gone that you constantly compare yours to theirs and then suddenly you’re comparing your entire life situation to someone on Instagram that you have never met and feeling down about yourself and your situation.
One of the worst things you can do is compare your life to another person’s on Instagram. I really do think that the more we know, the worse we feel. Back say, 40 years ago, our parents/grandparents wouldn’t have a clue what their friends were having for breakfast, how often they were going out, fun things they were up to during the week, clothes they were buying etc. It would only be via a catch-up face to face or maybe a letter/phonecall that they may find these things out.
But because we are so open with every little detail of our lives on Instagram and social media, there is no need to ‘catch-up’ since I know everything that everyone is up to anyway. We are all doing our own thing, on our own journeys, at our own pace so there is no way we should be comparing our situations with other people on a social media app.
Nobody is posting their real life on Instagram, only the parts they want you to see.
5. Being thankful
Look around you, there are so many things to be thankful for in your life other than reaching 100 likes on a picture of your clubbing outfit. Instead of valuing your self-worth on likes, value it instead on your family, your friends and your achievements.
We’re all more than a number on Instagram and those that are most concerned with the numbers on their profile are usually the loneliest of us all.
Sometimes (most of the time), it’s better to live in the moment than look at it behind the camera on your phone. At a concert? Be in the moment, look at the artist with your own eyes and make memories that you can always think back to. Out with your friends? Enjoy that time with them and stop videoing every move they make or every song that comes on. Dance and enjoy yourself.
We need to stop living behind our screens and remember that we live in the present world, because we’ll only end up regretting not being physically present in the best times of our lives.
Thankfully Instagram are starting to roll out the hiding of likes on Instagram which I personally think will be for the best mental health-wise and also creativity-wise. If the number of likes are hidden, I’m less likely to mull over a photo for weeks deciding whether it’s ‘Gram-worthy’ and instead, just post it. Stop caring about the number of likes on your Instagram photos, please.