That’s how many photos I’ve posted to Instagram since October 16th, 2011.
Back in 2011, Instagram was a bit of a free-for-all of social networking. Doubters said that it was senseless to post pictures of food and believers insisted that the network had value. The first 4 pictures I posted didn’t get a single “like.” Bah. Value indeed.
But after a few pictures, I “got it.” Instagram is about picking out the best moments of your life, and showing them to the world. Then friends double tap their screen to affirm that you are…in fact…really dang fun.
At first, it was great…”Sure! Show your friends what’s happening right now.” And let me tell you, I love Instagram. The app is wonderful. It’s the perfect social network. Without clutter or ads, the Instagram feed offers a quick fix of photos at any time.
It’s fun to see what your friends are doing, and you can keep up with people pretty easily.
But eventually, I started to buy into another story.
The Jealousy Effect
Instagram (and Facebook) can have a pretty negative jealousy effect. By constantly seeing an edited, perfect version of my friends, I envy their imaginary “perfect” lives.
Surely you’ve thought this…
“Oh look, they’re at an awesome destination wedding, good for them! But wow, I wish I was there. It seems like they’re having fun.”
Subtly, quietly, slowly, you hear: “your life is better than mine.”
It’s like watching a Romance film every single day for a year, and then trying to build a healthy romantic relationship. The expectations are that relationships happen with a soundtrack and everyone is gorgeous & laughing all the time. Instagram & Facebook can have pretty similar effects on friendships. I’m scrolling through a feed of my friends having fun, and I end up really jealous.
The reality distortion is intense.
Shauna Niequist wrote a post on Relevant that’s been getting plenty of attention lately. She says:
I feel so certain that my life is a lot less darling than other peoples’ lives.
But that’s the Internet. The nature of it. I so easily fall prey to the seduction of other people’s partial truths and heavily filtered photos, making everything look amazing. And their amazing looking lives make me feel not amazing at all.
It will destroy us.
What if we stopped pretending that Instagram is making us happy. IT ISN’T MAKING US HAPPY.
But just leaving Instagram won’t fix it.
As Christians, we must find a higher vision for community. A vision that believes in encouraging and rebuking each other. We are the people who enter the messy and the dull and the painful of life with the truth that the cross of Jesus has set us free from the need to perform.
You don’t need to edit your life to be ok.
The God of the Universe has seen you with your contacts out, your hair greasy, and cinnamon roll icing on your cheek. And he “liked” it. Better, He has seen you wholeheartedly pursue sinful desires and He chose to display his glory in you by giving His grace as a gift, while you were sinning.
Please fight the temptation to live an edited life.
This isn’t really about leaving Instagram. It’s about seeking the Lord.
I’m ready to stop believing that “community” needs the Amaro filter. My need for family goes much deeper than Instagram can allow.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t dogma, maybe Instagram doesn’t affect you. If it doesn’t, PLEASE use it. It’s an amazing and fun application. But don’t lose sight of your need for community.
For me, it’s time to seek community in other places.