Instagram, the social media app which showcases a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing gallery of your life. Cut out all the embarrassingly painful Facebook statuses, the awkwardly angled double-chin Snapchat selfies, the ‘I’m bored out of mind’ tweets and you are left with a handsome selection of perfectly filtered, delightfully bordered photos, which capture the exact image of your life you want to portray.
Talk about the dozens of Facebook friends you haven’t spoken to for years on end, hundreds, thousands even millions of the Instagram followers that persistently scroll down their screen to see the next carefully crafted addition to the collage of your life, you have never even met. But who cares? There’s not really an issue of invasion of privacy here, what are these strangers going to find out about you anyway? Where you went on your recent holiday, what fancy restaurant you visited last night, the new kind of chai latte you tried today? You’re not even in most of the photos. Forget about the countless different attempts you made in order to get that flawless profile picture. A beautiful Instagram account does not even require plenty of snapshots of your gorgeous face or exquisitely toned bikini bod, instead it’s all about the image you want your followers to see, to believe.
Did you know you can even have a colour scheme to your Instagram page? I didn’t, not until a friend asked me if I had one. I thought colour coordinating was for curtains and carpets or for when making sure your bright yellow top doesn’t clash with your alarmingly lime green skirt, but apparently I was wrong. The assortment of filters one uses can have a large impact on the attractiveness of your Instagram page. As can the type of photos you post. See it’s all about the ratios. Yes, even maths is involved when concocting the dazzling Instagram page everyone so desires. You don’t want too many ‘person’ photos, it needs to be balanced out by snaps of your latest clothes, perhaps a few healthy meals to show you take care of yourself and don’t forget a few quotes just to show you have a ‘deep’ side too. The amount of ludicrous design that goes into Instragram pages no wonder the app has millions of addicted users.
Let’s be honest though some Instagram accounts are just more impressive than others. We all follow a few celebrities, who doesn’t want to see Justin Beiber’s latest photo shoot or videos of Beyonce’s Super Bowl performance? But how about these nobodies who have suddenly become instafamous? Channel 4’s recent documentary, ‘The Rich Kids of Instagram’ showed the orchestration of the app in all its glory. These cyber world stars quite literally devote their lives to creating their Instagram alter ego. One pitiful image which stuck with me was when a young man sat in a bath tub as his girlfriend reluctantly sprinkled cash over him, all for his next boastful video instalment to his page. If it be promoting a brand, showing off wealth or presenting a certain attitude, when thinking of this extreme side of Instagram the word ‘fake’ springs to mind.
Some Instagram prodigies have recognised the ugliness in the fabrication. Former Instagram model, Essena O’Neill deleted over 2000 photos and re-captioned the perfectly poised posts she did keep to reveal the truth behind the lens. These new captions included, ‘Took over 50 shots until I got one I though you might like’, ‘Be aware what people promote, ask yourself, what’s their intention behind the photo?’ and ‘Not real life’. Essena has inspired other Instagram addicts too, Lexi Harvey, an Instagram obsessed student from Nottingham changed the captions on her photos after admitting that she would delete posts if in three hours she didn’t have more than three likes and would take more than fifty images before settling on one she was happy with. The ugly truth is that this obsession with creating a certain representation of yourself not only takes an awful amount of time and effort, giving an artificial focus to one’s life, but puts an unhealthy amount of pressure on us normal folk, who seem to live mind numbingly boring, poor and unattractive lives compared to these Instagram idols.
We cannot lie though there is something very arty about Instagram. To be honest I’m starting to question maybe I’ve been too harsh on the app. At least it is a platform for creativity and self-invention, which other social media apps perhaps don’t provide. You can use it for business, promoting your company or brand; you can find inspiration if this be through those cringe worthy but sometimes needed encouraging quotes or by stealing interior design and fashion ideas and let’s not forget those heart-warming, cheer-me-up cute animal accounts. There’s a purpose, a story behind every Instagram page. However, whether this story is true is another story altogether. As humans we like continuity, we like an image. But this image is unrealistic and makes us look at our own disjointed, disorderly lives and sigh. This is where the ugliness of Instagram creeps up on us.
Why can’t I be that girl who wakes up every morning to a broccoli and celery juice before being pictured in a charmingly candid shot running across the beach bare foot and then settling down for afternoon yoga? It’s depressing. It’s not even about looks anymore, it’s not about the amount of friends you have, or the places you go. It’s about showing that you have your life ‘all together’. And what better place to exhibit your beautifully ordered life than the tasteful, neat pages of Instagram? But we can’t resist, it may be painfully formulated, but perhaps that’s why we love it. We need an escape from the mundane reality of Facebook status rants and Twitter trash talk. Happy scrolling!