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Articles > Rant April, 12, 2015

The Misery of Instagram

Kirsty Allan
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8.74 / 10

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.

Floyd Mayweather, his private jet and many cars

Floyd Mayweather

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

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  1. Jennifer Maiden

    I just don’t use Instagram. Don’t want people sticking their nose into my business and I’ve got no business sticking my nose into theirs. I’d rather concentrate on and enjoy my life as it is than fantasise about living someone else’s. You only see what they want you to see – you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors!

  2. Phil

    I completely agree that social media is about portraying the ‘You’ that you want to be, as opposed to who you are. Without being sexist, a lot of the girls I know (some boys too) care really strongly about how many ‘Likes’ they get. So much so, in fact, that they delete photos or posts if they don’t get enough.

    I don’t look at Dan Bilzerian and feel envious, more intrigued. While he has 100 women gathered around him with stacks of money, cars and guns, I have one woman around me who is worth 1000x one of the ‘paid’ girls he hangs around with.

    It’s also deceiving, he hasn’t earned his lifestyle at all. If you in fact research him, he’s living off an enormous trust fund provided by his father and just so happens to be fairly good at poker. It’s nice to see his house and yacht, but at the end of the day, I’d at least like to have them things and know I earned it. People who have earned it themselves don’t need to prove themselves to anyone, hence they don’t so much use social media as an advert of their lives.

  3. Caoimhe Mc Gonagle

    Although I have instagram myself i totally agree with this article. This app is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the shallow, self-obsessed society that sadly i live in. Judging someone on how the look , the clothes the wear or the lifestyle they inhabit (usually from their parents) reveals the depth of how superficial and vein we are ALL becoming. Everything about instagram is fake. Filtering your pictures to make yourself seem more attractive , being judged on how you look and not by what you actually do or say. I hate to break the news but a picture of you looking beautiful does not hide your ugly personalty no matter how much makeup you use and clevege you show. This app could be used effectively by enlightening the world with images of starving children or even images of war. Instead it is filed with spoiled kids posing on top of a Ferrari.

  4. thabz

    I think…social media is a platform that has changed how some people feel about themselves

  5. Chinemerem Onuchukwu

    same I can’t seem to drop my phone because of instagram, I need a breakthrough.

  6. Nicole Lambert

    So true.

  7. saeed mahmood


  8. Natalia Aniolkiewicz

    I all depends on what the person thinks about themselves and their life in first place. You can do whatever, go to school, be out with your friends, and still be jealous of someone’s life. If one accepts themselves and their life, and appreciates what they have they will be perfectly happy. Even though I am not rich and fabulous, I love myself and my life, and accept it. Therefore Instagram often has a positive impact on me as it inspires me and motivates me. For example, if I see a photo of a fitness model etc. It straight away gives me the motivation to workout, but its not because I hate my body, but because I love it. Seeing other people being successful and rich not only gives me the motivation to work hard and study for my success but also makes me happy as I respect them and I’m happy for them that they are happy. Focus on love and appreciation, and turn it into a positive things rather than being jealous, unhappy and unfollowing everyone.

  9. Elizabeth Watson

    I was feeling the exact same way. I unfollowed everyone who was not a friend and now I don’t have to see the really skinny models and the expensive cars etc and I don’t have to feel bad about myself when looking on Instagram.

  10. Stephan

    This is exactly why I stay away from all social networking sites. I haven’t got a single account aside from Skype and Kik that I don’t use anymore. And though it’s ‘lovely’ so see the ‘brilliant’ lives of the modern day celebrity, it doesn’t say anything about them as people; look at the Kardashians, they’re famous for the sake of being famous for christs sake. When Kim has another baby because she can afford it, she’ll be named mother of the year and for what? Sitting around watching her nannies and cleaners do all the work? At one point in my life, my mum had two jobs and was looking after four kids under the age of ten when she wasn’t in work, one of whom, was only a year old. Plus she did all the cleaning in the house. Why wasn’t she name mother of the year?

  11. Maro Haddeh


  12. Yas

    It’s actually sad that so many people depend on the approval of everyone else on a life that’s most likely nothing like reality

  13. Rhys

    Very relatable… I’m one of those people who critisizes programmes, only to watch them endlessly. But then I think to myself are they playing cricket. To which I smugly smile as I realize my life on 10x better

  14. Charlotte Ridley

    Couldn’t agree more, I still love it dearly though!

  15. euan bone

    There is nothing at all wrong with Instagram, it is simply people sharing photographs of specific moments in their lives

  16. Donjeta Mahmuti

    I do think you make some vital points about instagram does portray that people being shallow and self-centered, but i do think people do give wrong impressions of their lives on instagram, but there’s also nothing wrong with sharing photos of people enjoying their lives, its up to them what they post.

  17. Rebecca Khan

    so true

  18. Kate Mcguigan

    I believe that Instagram is wrong to the extent that it does portray the world as being shallow and self-centered. However the app it’self can not be totally to blame for it – it is simply a business. I have instagram myself – I love using it! mainly for my own selfish reasons – but I am genuinely interested in the lives of others around me – I dont see anything wrong with that.

  19. Erin Limbert

    There is nothing at all wrong with Instagram, it is simply people sharing photographs of specific moments in their lives.

  20. Ilham Said

    Instagram is a way of people sharing their life their story’s their achievements and much more. There is nothing wrong with it, if you don’t like it don’t download the app, simple!

  21. Rhiannon Casey

    i cannot help if i am well off. maybe your parents didnt have the same drive mines had to make this life for themselves. im rich and im not ashamed to show it. simple.

    • N

      No maybe you can’t help it, but to say that my parents or anyone else’s didn’t have the drive is extremely elitist. I’m lower middle class, my parents have worked from teenagers. My dad works 12+ hour shifts as a manager in a prison, and my mum works every day with children suffering with cerebral palsy. They haven’t once stopped working and they deserve so much more than they get, but that’s not how the world works. Congratulations on being ‘rich,’ it’s just a shame to see that you along with so many others have this elitist attitude towards the working and lower middle classes.

  22. gurveen dang

    I believe there’s nothing wrong with instagram , its just a way of people making them feel better.

  23. Rhiannon Casey

    i don’t see the problem with instagram as i am one of those tan, rich girls. i like to show off my lavish lifestyle and i am not ashamed of being the rich girl i am. is it a crime that my parents have worked for this lifestyle, why should i not enjoy it and show everyone else.i like to show off my new cars, my expensive holidays and many villas. many of you will see me as self obsessed but i am simply living the life my parents worked hard for me to enjoy and i don’t see that as a problem. showing everyone what i have will give them the motivation to want to work for it and enjoy life as i have. i am causing no harm and not doing anything illegal so what is your problem?

    • Erin Griffin

      well some people cant afford things like you can and feel intimated when looking at your picutres

  24. Erin Griffin

    i dont think there is anything wrong with instagram. its just a place were you can post pictures and get likes. however i dont understand the way people comment on their pictures full on hash tags then when they get enough likes they delete them. i think that is cheating and attention seeking

  25. Chloe Gibson

    I’ve seen people that I know purposely posting revealing pictures or inappropriate ones in order to gain attention even if they don’t want to admit it. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to want attention, however, when this means knowingly posting unsuitable things on instagram, that’s when it’s gone too far.

  26. anita shabani

    I personally think that people are are so into posting pictures of their fake lives without noticing it. It’s a way of exposing to people what they own. It’s the same with other social networking sites like facebook, there are fashion pages which show all sorts of glamorous clothings which draws the attention of many viewers.

  27. Marios Kyriazis

    I think that many people are not living life, everything they do, eat or see is being snapped purely to gain attention, acceptance or approval. I think that people are lost, and it is a lost generation that we are living in, what happened to actually experiencing a moment for what it is. Too many people are trying to be something they are not, trying to live the life of famous celebrities. All I see is robots everywhere. Too much circulation and then things lose their beauty and pureness. I do not care what brand of bag you have got, or what you have.

  28. Aimee Akinola

    So darn true!! But then again the same can be said for any form of social media. Recently I just followed a face page titled ‘Private School Snapchats’ thinking it would be hilarious to see if it was anything like my school…BIG MISTAKE! I now fin myself lamenting over the luxuries that some kids enjoy! I would never unfollow any such accounts because although majorly depressing, i find it interesting eyeing other’s fancy holidays, new Prada bag or the latest gadget and honestly it makes me work harder. Thinking that maybe just maybe if i get good grades, get to uni, get a good paying job….then i might be my kids posting the ‘to die for’ shots…. A girl can dream!