What if I confidently told you that, despite what the haters say, Instagram brings us all together?
…That in these fleeting moments of Insta-connection, the very inhuman act of tapping a screen to interact with each other, could actually be the very medium that’s capable of equalizing us the most.
The tricky part is not letting the convenience of these digital moments be the extent of our connection, or worse, cause us to miss the plethora of moments that are occurring “IRL” (in real life).
Unless you’re talking to a robot-operated scam account, Instagram isn’t as “fake” as we go claiming it is either. There’s a person on the other end–an actual living, breathing, heart-beating HUMAN BEING.
We tend to forget that when getting so caught up in all the hype.
There’s nothing fake about someone sharing a post of something they’re (supposedly) doing. Something about it definitely happened. It’s a real thing. Sure, it may be highly fabricated and it most likely only tells part of the much bigger story.
Case in point: I love a good #flatlay set-up, but do I always work with my stuff laid out ever so perfectly? Not exactly. Does that make it fake? Not exactly. It was a real set-up, demonstrating a representation of my work-space that is far more artistic and pleasing to the eye. [Instagram is a visual medium, after all].
Once the picture is taken, my stacks of books may resume their much more cluttered, messy position and I’m likely to just go about my biznassss.
You should know that anytime you see something in the digital, it is solely a representation of what that person is up to IRL.
That’s why it’s a let down when someone’s online life doesn’t live up to their in-person one.
That’s why it’s awkward when we run into an old acquaintance and we *think* we already know everything about them.
How could we ever be so nieve to believe that one vacation snapshot could accurately depict someone’s entire trip? Maybe they posted about eating a romantic candlelit dinner at sunset with #bae, but you missed the 3 hour airport delays, the curb-side waiting for a taxi, the messed up check-in at the hotel, the last-minute packing panic, the forgotten toiletries, the sunburn, the windy weather at the beach, the $1,500+ poorer they are, and on and on.
So relax. Stop literally feed-ing yourself on jealous impulses and let that person be excited about their *moment* of paradise.
Because here’s a moment of truth for you.
NO ONE lives an always-Insta-worthy perfect life.
It’s a reality of the flawed human condition that most certainly brings us all together. Not to mention, I’ve truly seen countless times where Instagram connects people in ways they may have never otherwise discovered.
Before Instagram, I had no idea how good some of my acquaintances were at photography, how clever they could be in a caption, how they had a knack for discovering the coolest places in the city, how we have so many mutual friends, how we both love getting up for a sunrise, or how we ended up at a lot of the same concerts. Suddenly you have this ever-occuring feeling of, “Yes! I’m not the only one who likes that!” or “Wow, who knew we had so much in common!” It gives us real-time access into how another person views their world.
An Instagram post is like an introduction that beckons for further conversation and sparks more engaging dialogue.You have to choose to see Instagram for what it is, and stop making it into something that it’s not.
You have to choose to stop logging into your feed with the mindset of what you don’t have, how you don’t measure up, or how you’re “never good enough”.
Get excited about living your life in a vibrant way that naturally creates your own Insta-worthy moments. Use it the platform in a way that allows you to connect with others that do and don’t see things the way you do. Use it to challenge your thinking, strengthen your convictions, resolve your temptations, and grow from it.
The images you see on your feed do not form through spontaneous combustion either. Even if they are sheer artistry or graphic design, someone worked to make those come into existence.
They did something with what was in front of them.
And for that matter, some of the most talented, intellectual, and interesting people I’ve ever met don’t even do the whole -gram thing.
We get in this backwards habit of seeing others doing or possessing something we want, so we become jealous, which fuels nothing but disbelief in our own God-given talents, timing, and ability.
In our attempts to rob others of their success, we’re only robbing ourselves.
What if we saw social media as a means of encouragement, not just with the fancy quotes we post, but by the way our heart goes out to the person behind the quote?
Encouragement is an opportunity to enable a future-minded, forward-thinking capacity in another person. Discouragement, rather, feels like a condemning order to turn from the very thing that is providing them with a growth opportunity.
What if we chose to free ourselves (and others) from the constraints of an 800px x 800px square box? There is a world that exists outside of those limited social media ‘windows’ and a lot more goes on from wake to sleep than could ever fill your Snap-story or fall within Instagram’s (unwritten) “only 1-post-a-day” rule.
By now I think we all know its considered socially unacceptable to be tapping away on our phones while at the dinner table, during a movie, or waiting in line at Starbucks (that’s not to say we don’t still do it anyway), but I believe we’re past those little suggestions for improvement.
Obviously we can benefit from being more present and bumping into less people (or heck–poles) while walking down the street because we fail to keep our eyes off our phones and out in front of us.
But it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. There is a necessary balance in just about everything we do. When it comes to social media, that balancing act could be as simple as:
Log on, log off. Tune out, tune in.
When we’re logged on, we’re usually tuned out. When we’re logged off, we allow ourselves to tune back in to our true selves and to the world around us.
A little mindless scrolling here and there never killed anyone, and the simple act of browsing can be entertaining and feel like a mental release.
An equilibrium of proportion & harmony exists in the entirety of all human operations. Of course, there are plenty of non-negotiables (ie: pornography, drug/alcohol abuse, crime, etc.), but generally speaking—rarely is there a food, activity, workout, hobby, or interest that is inherently bad, in and of itself.
Yet just about anything can become negative, given the level of importance, dependency, and frequency by which we interact with it.
You can’t just point-blank dub it as “bad” or “good”. But if you find the right balance and get your mind right about it, it stops consuming you.
It’s time we turn Instagram from a breeding ground of comparison to an overflow of compassion.
Instagram is the great equalizer because it’s an equal opportunity media. We all start with a blank slate, a fresh account, and the same pre-loaded filters.
What you choose to fill it with, and what you choose to look at within it’s application will either foster community or continue to put you in a downward spiral of your own.
Our social feeds are certainly filled with incessant, entertaining updates, but we must never mistake them for possessing the answers we truly crave.
Mindless scrolling isn’t true seeking and endless searching doesn’t satiate. I’m telling you—pick up your bibles y’all. His truth is sharper than any two-edged sword. It’s alive & active, and it penetrates even to the most divided of souls and spirits [Hebrews 4:12].
Our instantaneous culture of convenience, that we’re all so desperately trying to live in to, only leaves us feeling rushed, hurried and more depleted than uplifted. The ease of ‘instant’ can quickly become of the end of intimacy—not only with each other, but with our Creator.
“God’s ultimate design for all of us involves connection—connection with Him, connection with one another, connection with creation, even connection with ourselves” (Relevant).
It’s time we stop logging on to Instagram thinking we’re missing or in “need” of something.
Instead, we can access it and learn to love the people were called to love, like He loved us. We can discover new ways of creating in a fiery, passionate, and compelling way. We can engage with others (online and offline) in a way that honors and uplifts one another. We can rest knowing our ability to create and our sparks of divine inspiration are gifts from God in the first place.
Funny how we’re that much more available to receiving it when we take the time to be still, tune out, and tune in.
So next time you feel down in the dumps and days deep scrolling through your feed, pause and tell yourself:
“I am whole, I am complete, I am content, I am enough.”
Because you are. And there’s nothing anyone else can post, or say, or do that can remove that which you are destined to create.