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Friday, 5 October 2018

Instagram is awful

Social media can be one of the most depressing things in the world. Anything that becomes addictive only brings misery (I should know, being in AA). I've long reached a point where I open up my phone and click on everything - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus - and simply scroll aimlessly, losing time to my screen. (Thank heavens I'll pick up a book afterwards).

Instagram can be very useful, I'm not going to deny that. It's a brilliant, simple app that when used for business purposes or the showcasing of talent, can drive people towards your vocation. Loads of musicians have clips of themselves playing; videos can be up to a minute long so you can highlight short but snappy teasers of your music. I often screenshot my blog posts and share them on Instagram, and have done the same recently with my books, YouTube videos, and anything relating to my creative pursuits.

But Instagram has a shitty side to it. There are pages filled with countless selfie after selfie; friends going clubbing and having a good time, people posting about their glorious relationships. At a glance this seems harmless, but it has a dark element. People only ever post the beautiful, filtered or happy moments of their lives on this picture-perfect app. I've made it a point to unfollow people that only post pictures of themselves of happy elements of their lives, even if we're friends. I'm mostly following accounts that are music/writing related, post Game of Thrones memes, photography accounts that post beautiful pictures, or inspiring lifestyle accounts. (And I don't follow celebrities).

There's nothing wrong with wanting to share the beauty of your lives with friends and family. But most of the people liking and following your Instagram profile ARE NOT friends and family, they're strangers. These are total strangers who are probably liking things for the sake of wanting to gain followers. I have countless pictures of random people writing 'great pic' and 'nice' probably for the sake of it.

For someone with mental health problems, this can lead to associating self-worth with the amount of people that like your pictures. And this is dangerous, because it means you are relying on external validation to make yourself feel good. When we post selfies, we're usually doing it so we can have a ton of people click 'like' and make us feel beautiful. We want people to notice us, to give us attention, so that we don't feel like just another passing picture on a canvas filled with millions of social media accounts.

It's no secret that most of our lives are not shiny and glamorous all the time. Couples fight, friends fall out, you don't wake up in the morning looking like you've stepped out of a salon. I even made it a point to film a few of my YouTube videos in a dressing gown with my hair tied back, just to show that it's ok to not look flawless in front of a camera constantly. Instagram can create a false sense of shallow perfection in a world where a lot of life is repetitive and mundane.

Great video. Credits to Charisma on Command.

No one posts pictures of themselves throwing out the rubbish, brushing their teeth, stocking up on groceries, washing the dishes, swatting a fly etc. But these things are part of our lives as well. I'm not saying we should document the boring parts of our lives, I'm just reminding you lovely readers that life is filled with boring or uninteresting elements where we spend twelve hours in bed and then eat Chinese while watching American Dad on our laptop and then yell at the screen to stop buffering.

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I'm Zarina Macha, an author, blogger, and musician from London. I write about stuff on the internet 'cos having opinions is fun -- if you want to join the games, please note your thoughts below. All thoughts welcome, even if they're mean (just no spam links please -- can't tell you what a liability those are to remove).
I've also published three YA fiction books and two poetry volumes. To check em out, copy and paste this link into your browser: