Instagram vs Reality: Why does this app make you feel so bad?
“I don’t know how she’s doing it. She is a mother of 5, and manages to have her own business, to look great and to travel all year long. I mean, I wish I was like that. But when I book a family trip, our three children catch a cold, and we end up having tantrums all vacation long. I freak out, look tired and never wear make up. I feel like I am failing at this motherhood thing,” – this is a monologue of a friend talking about herself and a famous mommy blogger she follows on Instagram. You would think my friend has no idea what Instagram is all about. But! She is a blogger herself. In fact, she has been blogging for quite some time now.
Yet my arguments that Instagram can be superficial and that we all tend to all the difficulties of life leave behind the camera don’t help. I know why. No matter how well I know the “behind the scenes” life of Instagram, there are always those ones who I look up to, who manage to impress me with how active, inspiring and impeccable they are. And then the worst part starts, comparison. I look at my own life and put all the imperfections next to the achievements of some Super Woman, who manages to home school all her children, do all the house chores, start 3 businesses and find some time for a pottery course. All this without any nanny, cleaner or tutor, naturally.
It’s no wonder that Social Media in general and particularly Instagram is one of the leading causes of depression in youngsters. However, it doesn’t only affect teenagers. Whereas adults are supposed to be mentally more stable, I can see those signs of feeling down, anxious, envious and minimized in most of my friends using this platform.
I love Instagram, I love so many sides of it, like the fact that it inspires me to be more active and creative. Through this little app I have met amazing people, with who I wouldn’t have connected otherwise. I just wish it was closer to the reality.
Now, you will probably ask me, why I wouldn’t just post my real life on my own page? All the tantrums, my fears, our real life food & parenting, our struggles with moving countries and working with two little children. You know why? Two reasons. Firstly, I once wrote a post here about why I don’t share negative thoughts about my children. Secondly, concerning my own imperfections, in fact no one wants to see my real life. Do you doubt?
I have friends that shared that they ate dairy, that being moms they occasionally afforded a glass of wine, that they switched from breast feeding to the bottle or that they hated a travel destination everyone else was so in love with. Now take a guess about the response they received from their audience? That’s right, negative. No, actually I’m downplaying it. Those ladies got literally hate messages. And not one, dozens!
And the worst part of it is how hypocrite this whole thing is. I bet if tomorrow Midas writes a post about whiskey, he will get no single negative comment. Because he is a man. But if I do about wine (which I do occasionally drink, and I have consulted about it with my GP), I will be humiliated in all the possible ways, just as some of my fellow mom bloggers were. You may laugh but I felt insecure even to write these last two lines here. Because I know I will be judged by many.
If people want to see the bloggers’ reality, they should be ready to see imperfect people. We don’t have all the answers, we have our own insecurities and we do drink alcohol.
Last week I had to be away from home for two days. Also, after 3 years of being constantly pregnant and breastfeeding I feel like my body is exhausted, I need a break so we decided to switch to a partial bottle feeding of Yasmin. However, I felt no urge what so ever to share about it in my Instagram post. Because I know I will be judged by many.
What am I writing this blog post for? Basically, for two reasons.
Firstly, I would ask anyone who uses Instagram to be a little kinder on others. Both your real life friends and people who had never met for real. Both users with private accounts and bloggers with many followers. Because no matter how many followers you have, criticism gets to you. Especially if it’s from a stranger and if it’s public (because I get anxious even thinking that others might have read one occasional negative comment I get). Even if you have a great life and you’re a generally confident person, you would get at least uncomfortable if a stranger randomly came close to you in the street and said something like: “You know in the past you were better. I just saw you now and I think you are not that great any more.” Now, imagine 50 people have witnessed that… I bet it could give anyone a sleepless night. Even if such a comment on my page is groundless, I still start picking on myself, overthinking it and eventually doubting myself. I wouldn’t wish that to anyone. So let’s be a little kinder to each other!
And the second reason for this post is to (once again) tell you know that Instagram is not real. Any idol you have on this platform in the real life is different from the image you picture to yourself. My biggest advice here is not to envy. Often you cannot even imagine behind the scenes and the struggles one is going through in the reality. When you follow someone, get inspired by them but don’t idolize the blogger. And the main point, do not compare. They are not better or worse than you. The fact that it seems like they manage to reach more doesn’t make you less of a personality. The fact that you don’t have as many followers doesn’t diminish your importance in life.
And if you feel you cannot cope any more, that you feel yourself a loser because “they can and I cannot”, take a little distance from the app. Turn to your own life, family, work and think how you can improve that. Just keep in mind, you are enough.
If you have made it to here, I am virtually hugging you. Because come on, we are in this together, we all need a little support and love from one another.