There’s no question that there’s a ton of dialogue and research emphasizing the cons of social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc (The “etc” I’m suggesting is obviously MySpace. Or scrolling through people’s Venmo transactions because don’t lie, I know you do). I think this post mostly deals with Instagram, as the title infers, because I’m unashamedly biased. It’s my favorite. But I can’t disagree that they have their issues and threats, however, I can’t help but want to focus on the positive outcomes that social media allows. I’m not going to lie and be all coy and act like social media isn’t a part of me. I love it and I’ll be the first to admit it. BUT, I want to begin with this: It is imperative to love it from a well-rounded position. We have to understand the depth of each post. Each click of the share button has the power to cause brutal detriment to our future if we allow it the opportunity to. Each mindless, wishful staring at models’ pictures on the explore page has the power to cloud our minds with self loathe. The problem isn’t rooted in the outlet itself. These websites were never created for the purpose of destruction I don’t think. The problem originates in the user and the space between the users’ two ears. If we can approach social media with a positive mindset and level head on our shoulders, we can really really really enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.
Social media is a personal scrapbook that grants an enormous amount of freedom. It is a way of reflecting on the things that life has so graciously given us and proudly sharing them with the world. When I say world, I don’t mean the entire universe. Not everything we post will go viral (If it does for you then you’re much cooler than me probably). But world as in our own microcosmic world. This personal world we are each placed in is unique in that we all have a voice that is valuable and a place for it to be heard, appreciated, and accounted for. If we want to document our greatest triumphs, in this world, it is encouraged. If we want to tell our world that we ate Waffle House for breakfast or whatever, I’m sure our grandmothers would love to know. I digress, but what I’m trying to say is that social media outlets are a wonderful way to publicize the moments in our lives that we love most and be able to look back on them with contentment. Instagram is a big apartment complex in NYC and your account is your cozy little loft with only your name on it. So make it your own. Decorate the walls. Let guests peek in. Laugh with your neighbors. Spill coffee and light birthday candles and hang posters up. Settle into it because it’s completely your own. You’ll want to tidy up the place and let your guests see all the good stuff. And that’s perfectly okay and human nature. But don’t forget to let your guests see the real shine through, too.
Let me touch on “likes” for a second. Only a second though because that’s all we need here. When you’re getting ready to post something, ask yourself this: Do I like this picture? If you answer yes, that’s all the “likes” that you’ll need. It’s all that ever matters. If you get 2 likes or 2,000, I really don’t think your followers will be talking about it over dinner anyway. If someone doesn’t like your apartment, there’s a door. And if someone doesn’t like your account, there’s an unfollow button. I don’t mean for this to sound sassy and condescending, I really don’t. But I do mean it when I say that you’ve got to be yourself and know that you’ll never get a 100% approval rate unless you’re Beyoncé.
Social media is a way for us to connect with a myriad of people. I firmly believe in the importance of human connection and the growth that can happen when we acknowledge the fact that we don’t have to be as independent and stoic as we think we are. Social media allows for a way to expand our circle of relationships as well as expand our outlooks and knowledge on the world we live in today. How boring would it be if we had ideas in our heads and no way to share them? How boring would it be if we weren’t able to grasp a more thorough understanding of the people, cultures, and ideas around us because we have no immediate access to it? Social media can be a way for us to come together in unity. How spectacular is it to acknowledge the idea that we are living in this same apartment complex as someone oceans away? This form of virtual togetherness and proximity can be the liaison between different ways of thinking and living. Even if it only connects two people for one second, one string of dialogue, it’s still accomplishing something so meaningful. We aren’t meant to live in a box filled only with our ideas. Social media creates open-mindedness and understanding if we allow it to.
The key phrase looming over the moral I’m suggesting is “allow it to.” How incredible is it that we are in control, people!? We have the power to represent ourselves how we want to be understood. We have the power to let our messy minds paint. And most importantly, we have the power to approach it all with a level head. I know it’s easier said than done and I know the Instagram scene can be cut-throat. I won’t act like it doesn’t get to me, too. Thus, I’ll say this advice to you and me both: Stop your mind from spiraling into the black hole of self doubt. I know it’s tough to look at Instagram models’ lives in comparison with our own. But it’s so necessary to remember that this is their livelihood and this is what they are paid to do. That’s their job. This is not your job. What IS your job is to own your Insta-apartment as the most radiant, innately beautiful, authentic, honest, and best version of yourself you can be.