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Fabricating reality

What happens when an entire society is so afraid that everyone else has more, experiences more and is more, that they purposely seek out purely “instagrammable” experiences to share online? We become faced with fabricated realities.

Instagram was created as a platform for “visual storytelling for everyone from celebrities, newsrooms and brands, to teens, musicians and anyone with a creative person,” according to Instagram’s website. However, it is now a social snare that wraps obsession with perfection around many who use it.

It’s hard to not feel like you’re missing out on an amazing life when all your friends, family and celebrities are posting photos and videos of their vacations, parties, elegant outfits and fun nights out. The uncomfortable feeling settles in your stomach as you double tap on their smiles frozen mid-laugh, arms permanently wrapped around each other, locked in a picture of pure forever happiness. Suddenly it feels like the pictures you’ve already posted, and the everyday experiences you have, somehow mean less.

When this occurs, it seems that the only solution is to call your girl gang and set up a coffee date, spend an hour choosing the perfect outfit, order a drink based on looks instead of taste, and spend the entire time grinning widely, casually brushing your hair out of your face and laughing at every small utterance in case someone happens to try to snap a “candid” picture that you could post online to prove to your followers your life is “carefree” and “fun.” Instead of enjoying the moment, you’re whisked away from the present by being obsessed with staring at life through your camera or phone screen in a chase to capture the ever fleeting “perfect” moment.

This creates a toxic mindset. You find yourself on Instagram, scrolling through pictures and tapping on usernames of people with perfect color-schemed profiles. You compare their posts to your own. You read captions written specifically to make the photo above them appear casual and effortless. To feel adequate in this social media competition, you counter with your own photos and witty captions. But is this our actual reality?

Personally, I spend hours sorting through dozens of the same photo, taken at a slightly different angle, with slightly different lighting and with a slightly different pose. Then I go on a photo editing app and spend additional time finding the right filter, adjusting the exposure, saturation, clarity and anything needed to get the photo to the highest quality it could be. Finally, I sort through my sorted “quotes” pins on Pinterest to find the perfect phrase to accompany my seemingly “candid” photo. If I go through this long of a process to post a photo, why do we always seem to forget that everyone else does too?

Instagram is ranked the worst social media app for mental health, involving anxiety, depression, self-identity and body image, according to a study conducted by the Royal Society of Public Health in the U.K. While I agree that it can be used positively in the form of self-expression and connecting with others, the main purpose it serves in our society today is a way for individuals to constantly compare themselves to others. It fabricates realities in an attempt to match up, and this isn’t a healthy lifestyle.

I’m not saying you must delete the app or swear off social media forever. I’m reminding you to remember that most everyone is not as put together as their social media depicts, and that it might be a good idea to enjoy moments for what they are, not for how they look on your Instagram profile.

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