For When Instagram Is Making You Crazy
I was listening to a recent episode of the podcast Reply All, and a college student shared how Instagram was a companion for her during a bout with severe depression.
"As someone that's happy now who was once very sad, I can't have any of my feeds populated with people who are chronically unhappy. And when I was depressed, I couldn't have my feeds populated with people who were chronically happy! I think there is something to be said about building the online universe that serves your needs in the moment."
Have you ever finished a scroll of Instagram or Facebook and felt gross? ::raises hand:: Yes, social media (ew to that term) has benefits, but we all know the opposite is true, too. This is not news. But here's what is, at least to me.
I don't have to consume Instagram the way you do.
I don't even have to consume Instagram the way I always have.
My feed used to be crammed with food photographers and bloggers, world travelers, and a few friends sharing their weight loss journeys. Each thumb scroll showed so many bowls of sugared berries, modern hotels, and six pack abs that my feed looked like it was curated by Gwyneth Paltrow. Then one day recently, I got off Instagram all huffy and mad. I ate a fudge Pop-Tart as a processed my feelings like you do.
My soul is currently fragile. Life doesn't look the way I thought it would, and All the Extra Hormones make me want to burn my house down and move to a quaint fishing village in Maine where a kind old man will share his catch with me every morning and entertain me with stories of the stormy sea. Guys, this does not bode well for those muscly chicks on Instagram.
Food bloggers share photos from their book signing at Strands, and I think We started blogging at the same time; I must've screwed up to not have a book tour by now.
Adventurous world travelers climb mountains where a spa is waiting for them at the summit, and I think I want to be an adventurer! Why is my life so boring that I can't get full-body mud wraps on top of a mountain, too?
Hard-working women post before and after photos of their weight loss, and I think I straight up look worse than her "before." Cool, so I'm ugly now?
Unfairly compare, eat Pop-Tarts, sound like a crazy person. So goes the cycle of my recent Instagram consumption. Until that 23 year-old college student gave me permission to create the online universe that serves me right now.
Right now? I need to see photos of moms and their kids in regular but beautifully captured situations, sans captions about "treasuring every moment" and "motherhood is the best job." I need the mom who straight up said yesterday, "I was going to write something about what a nice Sunday we were having... but let's face it, we've had an awful Sunday. Two babies under 2 is hard work." Preach it, mama. I was so grateful for her candor in that moment that I cried tears of relief.
Then I grabbed another Pop-Tart (frosted strawberry this time), unfollowed all the food bloggers and world travelers and muscular princesses, and went on a hunt for regular moms with a beautiful eye. You guys? It's been life-changing. It does what social media is supposed to do - bring us together. When I scroll through Instagram, I feel part of a community, even if they don't know I'm there.
I have no doubt I will follow those other folks again, but right now, I need my Instagram to look a particular way, and maybe you do, too. So if social media is making you sad, here's your permission to create the online universe your soul needs right now. Decide, eat a Pop-Tart, and do it.