All I want is to be able to look through my Instagram feed without seeing things that I can’t have, is that too much to ask? The answer is definitely yes, it is. Perhaps ‘too much to ask’ is the wrong way of looking at it, but too much to expect of myself.
Instagram can be used as a form of vicarious living; which is dangerous, delightful and depressing all at once. Magazines that boast such excitement in content would usually be way out of my budget, but following them on Instagram gets me right up to speed, yet still I’m left feeling empty. I want to see pictures of hot countries, luxurious food and shoes that cost thousands, but I don’t want the twang of jealousy that I get alongside it.
The slightest insecurities buried within us become magnified by the uber (edited) perfection that we are subjected to via Instagram. If not clothes, bags or hairstyles then it becomes something deeper seated. Images posted of body inspiration and models in their underwear are not exactly rare. Even if you don’t follow anyone with such audacity, they scarcely ever lurk further than the popular page.
Hashtags such as #gymspiration, #thinspiration, etc. never take long to pop up in comment sections and subject many to a whole reevaluation of their lifestyle. The accessibility of Instagram make an unrealistic ideal around body image and material possessions seem attainable, whilst simultaneously shoving their exclusivity in our faces.
Just as we are learning to accept that the little heart of approval is as close as we will ever come to the contents in the image, another downside of Instagram creeps in to focus. People who we know are now using Instagram as a tick on their personal shopping list. Since when did social media outlets become a platform of acceptable boasting?
Receiving compliments on new possessions face-to-face just isn’t enough anymore. On more than one occasion I’ve said to a friend, ‘I loved your outfit in that picture’, and they have replied with, ‘did you actually like it though?’ ‘Like’ apparently having no meaning independent from a double click on Instagram. It seems the physical act of liking something is in danger of becoming obsolete in the face of virtual appreciation.
Instagram serves the purpose of allowing you to update those who are around you of what you’ve been doing. The problem is that those who are more fortunate get the chance to use Instagram as a means of establishing themselves as superior. It just so happens that the majority of us are more interested in those who are fitter, better looking and more extravagant than ourselves, which cements a vicious circle of arrogance and bragging.
I can imagine that if I made the argument to most people that Instagram causes an extreme dependence on material possessions, the response would be, ‘well you don’t have to follow people whose pictures you don’t want to see…’ but why should I give up hope and have to scroll through pictures of less than impressive #selfies and #quotesoftheday.
Magazine and celebrity accounts should be providing culture and personality rather than advertisements and consumerism. Instagram needs to whack up its feel good and dial down the emphasis on #igotit #youcanthaveit.