August 9, 2016 was my last post before I liberated myself from the weight of the gram. It had been heavy on my shoulders for months. Maybe even years.
At the time, I posted funny pics, cute pics, friend pics, hipster pics, artsy pics, cool pics and more, but not really for myself. Mostly what I did was use others’ perception of my online persona as a filter through which I’d evaluate myself. The double tap heart that faded in and out of my doctored snapshots was a passing stamp of approval. The climbing (or stagnant) number of likes was an addictive determinant of my worth. And the value of every personal picture was given to it, not by me, but by others reaction to it. I salivated over approval and lost myself to unhealthy comparison.
It sounds dramatic, right? Well, it was.
For me, having Instagram was much more than just a pastime at the Doctor’s office. It fueled my anxiety and introduced me to the nagging plague of the 2000’s, FOMO.
It’s hard to look into the windows of other people’s lives and not have doubts about yourself. We all do it to some degree. So if Instagram and other social media platforms are windows into people’s lives, why are we all a bunch of peeping Toms?
We use our house windows to see a glimpse of the outer world, and it’s typically frowned upon when we are tiptoed at the vinyl siding and sniffing someone else’s window sill or in a tree with bulging eyes. Yet, our motive for social media, especially if left unchecked, is too often to look inside others’ lives in order to compare, evaluate, or seethe in envy.
But, when we look inside through a limited scope, we don’t see the whole picture. That’s not news to the millennial; we’ve learned it over and over again every time FOMO kicks us in the butt, and yet we continue to forget that assumptions made are unfair to everyone.
Remember Kevin’s house party in “Home Alone”? He put a cardboard Michael Jordan on a model train and had mannequin appendages dancing on string. His life looked like a party from the outside, but in reality, his family had flown off to Paris, and he was a lonely, vulnerable kid with the apparent beginnings of a psychopath.
Tough life, Kev.
So, November 22, 2017 was my first post on Instagram after over a year away, and I can honestly say I don’t give a single double tap what you think of it. My mission is simply to explore the shapes and colors of my everyday happenings, and have a small means of a creative outlet. Even more so, my mission is to not care about likes, double taps, followers, or your approval. And you shouldn’t care for mine. If you do, take a break.
Maybe a long break.
Just like the windows into your house, Instagram is firstly and most importantly for you to explore your own world.
For more thoughts on social media:
Thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Comment below!