We are in the era where social media rules the world. Everywhere you look – at restaurants, cafes, in the train, bus stops – people are glued to their phones and usually they’re looking at either Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Social media influence us in ways that we never knew we could be influenced. In this article, let’s focus Instagram.
In the early days, Instagram was full of somewhat artistic photos – scenery, city skylines – uploaded by users to showcase their photographic skill. It didn’t take long for users to realize that “Hey this could be personal” and came the selfies, we-fies, and more personal pictures of outings, events and even i-woke-up-like-this photos. As followers number rise on one’s profile, people realized that “Hey, I could make money out of Instagram!” and started doing paid Instagram review, review swap, and promote products/services/blogs on Instagram. Why not right? Instagram is free and almost everyone has an Instagram account.
People (especially women) tend to idolize their favorite influencers, celebrities or bloggers, be it in the category of beauty, motherhood, fashion or food. Bloggers who used to blog for a living started to blog less and took more OOTDs, do makeup, art and hijab tutorials, fitness routines and beauty product reviews on Instagram. As a result, we don’t really need to read much on their blogs or websites. We can now open Instagram and see more of these beautiful, flawless, perfect (filtered, of course) people instantly.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and be jealous when we are being fed daily with these (seemingly) perfect life of strangers. There is a particular study that have also shown that Instagram was also associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO, or the “fear of missing out.”
What can we do to filter negativity associated with Instagram? Maybe these five tips could help:
1) Adjust from Self-Criticism to Self-Improvisation
Say you found a girl dressed better than you do. Instead of beating yourself up for not being stylish enough, think of how her outfit can be an inspiration for you. Identify what it is you like about that girl's outfit, for example, and use it as a point of reference to create your own version of it. It could be just a matter of styling your jeans or a different way of donning your headscarf.
Or if you find yourself obsessing over before-and-after pictures of fitness junkie, why not copy her workout routine and see the results on yourself? You’ll be surprise to see that you can do it too.
2) Follow Instagram Profiles of Charity Organizations, NGOs, or Humble Causes
When we look up to people who have more than we do, we tend to think about what we’re lacking and what we’re missing out. To neutralize this, follow Instagram accounts of charity organizations, non-profit organizations or any influencers who fight for humble causes. There are a lot of Malaysian-based NGO or non-profit organization profiles that are worth following including National Cancer Society Malaysia (@canceractionmy), PERMATA Kurnia (@permatakurniaofficial) and Persatuan HEAR ME (@hearme_malaysia).
3) Realize that Those Perfection Require LOADS of Effort
News flash: Nobody wakes up with perfectly smooth shiny hair complete with contoured and highlighted cheeks, curled eyelashes AND matte pinkish lips. No, honey. No one wakes up like that. And it takes loads of equipment, time and photography talent to show off those perfectly lighted hot-from-the-oven homemade gourmet dinner. Believe me, that stay-at-home domestic goddesses that you follow on Instagram doesn’t snap photos of her scrumptious meals using just the standard smartphone camera. So don’t feel bad if photos that you’re taking don’t look as good.
4) Realize that Those Insta-Moments are the Highlights, Not the Real Deal
It’s Monday. You’re commuting to work in a train carriage full of people looking as miserable as you feel. When you open your Instagram, you see your friend's photos enjoying #beachvacay in Maldives or exploring the marvels of #NewYorkCity or skiing on the Southern Alps in #NewZealand and more hashtags of #wanderlust #travelholic #travelforlife. You thought to yourself “Ughh how could he/she manage to travel so much and I have to work all the time?”
Hold that thought, honey. People choose to show what they want to show and it is human nature to show only the best version of themselves (cough, humble bragging, cough). What they probably don’t show is that they take up personal loans or be in a huge credit card debt to go travel/buy that designer bag. Or who knows prior to that, they eat instant noodles for 3 months straight in order to save money? And if money is not the problem for them, who knows that the shiny stuff they have are a way of filling in empty spaces in their heart caused by bad relationship/ignorant parents/neglecting husband? Again, remind yourself that those perfect Insta-moments are the highlights, not the reality of life.
5) Remind Yourself that There are More to Life than Instagram
Yes, there is so much more to life than Instagram. Instead of ooh-ing over that cheeky adorable celebrity daughter, why not focus on your way cheekier, way more adorable son? Instead of obsessing over Blake Lively’s new body and thinking “Why can’t I get my pre-baby body back like Blake did?” why not you get off Instagram and go for a jog around the block? Get off the phone and live life the way you wish you do. Trust me, when you let go of the Instagram-fantasy, you’ll find that the real life is not so bad after all.
Any other tips to share on filtering unrealistic Instagram perfection? Don’t be shy and comment below!