Why the stylised view of what we see online isn’t quite reality…
I confess that I love Instagram. I love it far more than Twitter and Facebook; I love the quick and easy snapshot I can get into my friends lives, seeing what they’re up to.
I confess that I love Instagram. I love it far more than Twitter and Facebook; I love the quick and easy snapshot I can get into my friends lives, seeing what they’re up to. I love the silly videos that people post, I love watching people twirl their circus toys as it inspires me to try new tricks with my own hoops and other toys; I even love seeing the endless cups of coffee and delicious looking meals that people share, so I can salviate with jealousy.
I also confess that I spend far too much time on Instagram. It’s a habit; as soon as I have a few seconds to spare I’m scrolling through it before my brain has even registered that what I’m doing. And as with everything, with overindulgence comes a negative response. I can see my friends doing something awesome whilst I sit slobbing in my pyjamas at 4pm with unwashed hair and chocolate smeared halfway across my face, and think how much better what they’re up to looks compared to what I’m up to. I can see girls hula hoop perfectly and as I drop mine 10 times in the space of a minute, i wonder how I’ll ever dance as good as them. And as I try, with my limited, health hazard cooking skills, to whip up a meal that looks even remotely instagrammable, I feel dismayed that I ignored all my poor mums attempts to teach me to cook.
After weeks, months, years of this, I have slowly started to realise that one of the biggest causes of unhappiness in humans is comparison. To continuously compare ourselves to others is of course going to make us miserable. There is always someone out there that’s going to be cleverer, fitter, faster, prettier, stronger, better – but why pay attention to that? It’s our own little lives that matter, and our own little lives we should be concentrating on making as happy and enjoyable as possible, not constantly peering into the worlds of others and wondering why our own isn’t like that. Instagram is a dangerous thing – it equips us with the tools to pick apart our own lives, piece by piece, until we can see only the bad.
But what we seem to forget, whilst we lie in bed eating our second packet of jaffa cakes of the day and looking green faced at the sun-kissed beach holidays our acquaintances seem to frequent, is that we’re comparing our behind the scenes with their highlight reels. Everybody is determined to display the wonderful, so you can see giggling faces over post-work cocktails or a gorgeous happy baby, but how many images do you view of teary-eyed and grumpy colleagues after an awful day at work, or toddlers screaming the house down at 4am? Not only does this stylised system mean we always feel inadequate, but it’s promoting dishonesty too, hiding our true feelings and moments in favour of the perfect shot.
This is why I love the latest project by Chompoo Baritone, a Thailand based photographer who has made an honest series called #Slowlife, documenting the all important missing parts of the seemingly perfect Instagram pictures we see that make us green with jealousy.
There’s a people taking a stand against it already – I love the #honestmothering tag, a load of strong ladies documenting the real highs and lows of raising kids. Why shouldn’t we all be honest too? The next time you feel jealous of, or not as good as, the pictures you flick through on your phone, remember what’s been cropped from the photo and challenge it with a snap of what your life really looks like. We’re not meant to be perfect. #breakthehighlightreel