I am L I V I N G for Instagram lately.
A lot of people say that Instagram causes depression. O…kay? I guess it’s like, when you look at other people’s pictures on Instagram, you compare yourself to them, and comparison is the thief of joy, therefore Instagram => comparison => depression?
To quote Disney’s Aladdin’s reprise: “I don’t buy that.” If only they’d look closer! Instagram isn’t MAKING you compare yourself in a negative light to other people, hon, you’re doing that to yourself. And while sure, I do look at other people’s photos and think they’re amazing, I don’t see it as a personal attack on my own existence, but rather as inspiration! For hairstyles I want to try, places I want to visit, makeup looks I can copy! Heck, even photo composition — I’ve learned a lot about how to take creative photos from seeing other pics on Instagram! Like, I’m not saying some people don’t get bummed out by their Instagram feeds, I’m just saying that for me, it’s the opposite. I like the photo sharing platform!
Now, here’s how Instagram is saving my life:
I’m one of those people who needs to be busy or else my life goes completely to shit. I need to give myself small, achievable tasks to do every day. And in my case, I’m just capable of going outside, taking three photos, editing and posting them to Instagram. Forcing myself out of the house to create #InstagramContent is literally the one thing that makes me get dressed, put on makeup, do something about my hair, and leave the house every day. I’m — literally — doin’ it for the ‘gram.
“But Meghan,” I hear you say, “isn’t that the whole problem with Instagram — the LIES?! That people use the platform to post happy, airbrushed versions of their lives to mask their inner pain? The FAKE?! The LIES!!!” Uh huh. As if you can’t be depressed and press the shutter button on your iphone at the same time. As if you’re being fake for feeling good for ten minutes a day, and wanting to share that fleeting happiness instead of the hours of sleepless turmoil and long afternoons of crushing self-doubt. As if almost every artist who’s ever created art or music or theatre didn’t do so as a means to work through their depression or process their feelings. I’m Instagram-filtering my sadness away! Would this hobby be more legitimate if I was singing a 4-bar blues with a harmonica on a subway platform? Leave my depression-posting aLONE, dammit! And who-the-fuck’s business is it if I’m smiling in a photo I post, while I’m also struggling to leave the house and take care of myself below the surface? You gonna comment “FAKE SMILE!” on my photo? Believing people who are functionally dysfunctional can’t have good times shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how depression works, so buzz off!!!
And yes, I’m taking photos to get likes. That’s the point of this app. You look at photos. You “like” the photos. That’s literally all Instagram was invented to do. Back before there were “Stories” and IGTV, all you could do on the damn thing was 1) upload a photo 2) make it inexplicably sepia-toned and 3) double-tap that shit to show some damn appreciation. Literally everything this fucking photo-based sharing platform does revolves around getting likes! Send photos to your friends within the app — to show them things they’ll LIKE! Hashtag it, then you can find other similar things you LIKE! Anyone on Instagram who spurns the odd “LIKE” is LYING TO THEMSELVES! Go back to Twitter! Interacting with Instagram is inherently either liking, or being liked. There is no other option, no “DISLIKE” button, no “MESSAGE RECEIVED AND ACKNOWLEDGED.” It’s Like and Be Liked. Like, get it?
Hashtags. Let’s talk about hashtags for a minute, yeah? In the past, I’ve been too ashamed to use them, but you know what? Hashtags form communities. Whether it’s a specific blogger hashtag where we can all go to sprinkle LIKES like flower petals and build each other up, or a location hashtag where you can see photos that other people have taken of the spot you’ve just been, or a concept hashtag where you can find other examples of say #clubkidstyle or #makeuptutorials, hashtags create a road map through the app that help you find what you LIKE! Otherwise, it’s just whatever #ad that Instagram algorithms forth for you, based on what they think you’ll like. Me, I love a good hashtag, whether I’m looking for inspiration for my #hairstyle or #flowertattoo or #streetstyle, or I want to meet other #nycgirls or just ogle a good fuckin #sunset or whatever. And the more specific, the better. Hashtags are within the users’ control, to hone in on the kind of content that YOU want to see.
And you know what I want to see? I want to see pictures of people going out, in the sun, getting about and enjoying themselves. I don’t look at selfies or #foodstagrams or whatever and think “Ugh, who do you think you are? Acting like your life is perfect!” No! I Double-Tap Salute that shit because I love and support my friends! I leave comments for strangers so they know I think they’re fabulous! I follow hashtags and add memes to my stories and I watch all of my stories at the end of the night to see what all my friends and heroes are up to. I love Instagram.
Look, if Instagram makes you unhappy, or if you worry about people using Instagram to put out fake narratives of their lives, DON’T BE. Delete the app. Instagram isn’t for you.
My Instagram is TOTALLY a reflection of my life. It’s a reflection of my real life. In my case, it’s a reflection of me making tiny steps to take care of myself, put myself out there, and celebrate my tiny victories… even if that’s just the fact that I left the house and took a selfie with the tree right outside my apartment.