Somehow I can’t seem to look away. The exploits of others – the tanned, glamorous, rich, beautiful, cool and stylish – they crowd my Instagram with their smug shots, desperately vying for my attention…
And they’ve got it. Peering voyeuristically into the lives of those I do not know, I want to know the labels they are wearing, the idyllic locations they are in and the diets they are on that allow them such enviable figures.
Instagram is making me competitive – in a competition that I can’t possibly win. I want to be able to hash tag my life and have people run out and buy the dress I’m wearing or get the same hair cut as me. I want to go to fashion shows and hang out with the stars. I want a yacht.
Now I’d like to point out at this juncture that there is nothing wrong with my life. I love my job, I am occasionally able to splash out on the good things in life like a holiday or a new pair of shoes, and I’m fit and healthy with some great friends and family. Essentially, I’m damn lucky and most of the time, I know it. And yet…… Instagram is making me want somebody else’s life. A designer life.
But even as I want it, a small, sensible part of my brain understands that it’s all lies. I know that because my profile is lying too. Our web profiles are the faces that we want to portray to the world. They seek the validation of our peers through the ‘like’ function, through the collecting of comments, friends and followers. On Instagram, it is a case of quite literally ‘filtering’ out the negatives in an aggressive struggle for approval and acceptance.
So whether it’s a particularly flattering selfie, a friend’s photo stream from that ‘stunning’ holiday where her boyfriend threw up for a solid week and she sat alone by the pool and cried or the staged reality of the glitterati, I’m selling and being sold a lie, albeit an addictive one.
More and more often, these photos represent big money. Product placement crowds the ‘popular page’ on the backs of fashion bloggers, models and celebrities and more and more mainstream brands have an Instagram presence. A side effect of the seemingly harmless habit of check-my-Insta is that I’m becoming unsatisfied with my perfectly happy life and starting to think of the things I can buy to achieve contentment. It’s a consumerist’s dream.
In reality, I will never look like Cara Delevingne in a bikini. Nor will buying the bikini help me secure the life of the person wearing it whilst having exorbitant amounts of fun on (my!) yacht. What Instagram does is simply allow us another way of flagellating ourselves for not being perfect. Yet, as any number of celebrity stories routinely tell us, slim does not equate to happiness, money doesn’t lead to a fulfilled life, fame does not reassure the insecure and clothes do not make the man.
So I am resolved. I am going to unfollow anyone who isn’t a member of my nearest and dearest and reclaim my sanity. I just need to know where that bag is from first…..
Originally posted on 2nd October 2013