Oh, Instagram

I have been hesitating writing about this for a long time, because frankly, it just seemed kind of silly. It all started a few months ago, when I deleted my Instagram account. I found out you actually had to get online to delete the account for good, so I did. Within minutes, I had people texting me asking why I had deleted it.

I was pretty surprised that, given my small number of followers, anyone could notice that quickly. Since then, I've had numerous people ask me why I would delete it. I always give some brief answer about how I was concerned with the safety of it, or how I was just sick of it.
I deleted Candy Crush because I was sick of it- deleting Instagram was about a lot more than just getting rid of some overused app.

I really think social media started off as a good thing, and it has it's fine points. But Instagram has very little that is good about it, and I finally realized what a poison that silly little app was becoming in my life. Because Instagram breeds a vicious cycle escapism, deception, and comparison.
Escapism: A funny thing happens when you start to really get into Instagram. You stop living in the moment, and you start looking for that perfect moment to capture and then post. It may seem extreme to those who haven't been sucked into it, but for those who have, really think about it: when is the last time you got all dressed up and did something fun, and didn't take a picture of it? Deep down, we all know that we take those pictures for a reason, usually with someone specific in mind. We want a certain friend to know we were with a certain other friend. We want estranged friends to know that we don't just sit at home on Friday nights. We want exes to see how beautiful and wanted we are by everyone. 181 likes? That was a successful night.
For me, it was a little more mellow. Pictures of my dog, my nanny job, my house. But I still felt that strange, overpowering urge to post those pictures, to show the world what I'm doing and how great my life is.
That's not so bad, right?
DeceptionInstagram offers filters to easily fix up any photo to look it's best. I rarely see a photo posted that hasn't at least had a filter applied, if not fixed up even more on another app. Because everyone on Instagram is living their life behind a filter. It's obvious, and even though we realize how fake our own pictures generally are, we somehow can't see it in others. Especially when we follow celebrities, or local celebrities, or that pretty girl from High School that is living the life we always dreamed of.
Which brings us to another problem: FOMO. (Yeah, I'm hip. I know all the new words.) For those who don't FOMO means the Fear of Missing Out. Because at any given moment in our lives, we can pick up our phones and within seconds see a hundred pictures of people doing fun things, looking hot, and all without you. Of course we're going to feel like we're always missing out on something. You are always missing out on something. But now, Instagram gives you a perfect portal to see exactly what those somethings are.
I remember a few years back when a few girls I knew had actually paid for followers. Does that not strike anyone else as scary? This fake popularity meant so much to them, they were literally willing to pay for it. How is that not a wake up call?
Comparison: And herein lies the problem. I can't tell you how many times I've heard girls say, "I keep seeing girls on Instagram who..." Fill in the blank. Have nice cars. Have perfect marriages. Have beautiful, well-behaved children. Go on expensive vacations. Have cuter clothes than me.
Think about it. That picture you're looking at is probably one of at least 10 attempts to get the perfect picture. It's been edited, filters added, and a cute, clever caption thought up. It is a fake moment meant to look completely perfect. But do we compare it to our pictures? No. We compare it to our worst moments. We look at how her hair is perfect, and then realize we haven't even showered today. We sit there on our phones, covered in spit up with a crying baby bouncing on your lap, looking at pictures of that one girl's adorable children all grinning in their Easter-best.
Instagram has this awful way of making us always want what we don't have. You might get married someday, but your husband won't leave you a note like her husband did last week. You might go on a big, expensive vacaction, but eventually those photos will run out and you'll have to resort back to photos of your normal, everyday life. Let's be honest: No one is going to post pictures of their sink full of dishes, the fender bender they got into, or a close up of the zit they woke up to this morning. (And if they did, they'd be unfollowed faster than you can say your username.)
I'm not worried about the safety of Instagram nearly as much as I am worried about the aspect of comparison it presents in our lives. It's natural to compare your life to others. It's easy to want more. But what about not appreciating what you have, because you're too busy wanting what some strange, lying stranger on Insta has?
This is where I realized it isn't "silly" anymore. I have actually seen these things spiral out of control and end in divorce. I've seen friendships fall apart. And all over a silly app.
How have we let this happen?
And why do we defend it so strongly? I am not suggesting that everyone follows in my footsteps and deletes their accounts, but I do think we all need to take a step back and think about it. How often do you check Instagram every day? How often do you post? What is really bringing you back so much? What are you looking for? And do you really, honestly, think you will find it there?
For me, I realized that every time I opened that app I would put away my phone with a weird emptiness. I would look around with new eyes that only saw the flaws in myself, in my life. 
If nothing else, now I get to enjoy moments as I live them, without worrying about how many likes this moment is worth.

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