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Instagram: Perception vs Reality

November 16, 2017

I recently ran a poll on my instastories to ask whether being on Instagram had ever made you feel as if your photos weren’t enough, if scrolling through had you feeling like you weren’t doing enough with your life or made you feel like you’re not enough. Sadly, 79% voted yes.

In a world of perfect images of perfect outfits, perfect houses, perfect holidays and perfect children, it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly scrolling through lives better than yours.

Here’s the thing. Instagram isn’t accurate.

There’s plenty of criticism for social media. That everyone is just posting their highlights and not enough of the real stuff. Especially when the images themselves are perfect. Well-lit, styled, beautiful shots of smiling kids, new purchases and perfect holidays. But the problem isn’t with the photos, it’s with our mindset. The sooner we understand that the lives behind these perfect Instagram accounts aren’t perfect, and the more we focus on all the wonderful things we have going on in our lives, the better it will be.

Has anyone watched the Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two documentary on Netflix? Now that is the perfect example of imagining how one’s life must be (glitz! glamour!), but really having zero clue. From the outside, we see the red carpets, the successful new album and that show-stopping Superbowl performance, but amongst all that is the breakdown of her engagement, her chronic pain condition and a friend battling terminal cancer. We really have NO idea what other people are dealing with, so its futile to compare yourself to strangers just because they post a pretty picture.

Do you remember a time where you looked back at a photo, and thought how great you looked back then? Only in that moment you really didn’t think you looked that great at all. Bad hair day, fat day, whatever it may be. Please don’t do this with your life. You don’t want to look back in 10 years and realise you wasted so much time comparing yourself to (insert Instagram influencer) instead of enjoying all the wonderful friends, family, opportunities, health etc you were blessed with.

Think of Instagram like advertising. Toilet paper advertising would have you believe its cute wrinkly puppies pulling at a roll whilst a baby sits nearby laughing. In reality, its your toddler thinking its a great idea to unfurl the entire roll and use it to jam your entire toilet and block your plumbing. Or like me the other day, when my son, unbeknownst to me, mustn’t have aimed properly so later I stepped in a huge pool of pee and used it to mop it up. It’s fantasy vs reality.

I see posts all the time in various groups on Facebook from people discouraged by the decline in ‘likes’ or engagement on Instagram. It always makes me sad, because trying to get validation from Instagram is dangerous. People can buy followers for very little cost, join interaction groups and telegram, garnering themselves hundreds of fake likes and disingenuous comments. What you see isn’t always real. Many accounts still choose to remain organic (mine included – my engagement rate is craaaaap but I truly don’t care), but the point is not to find yourself in competition or letting things like this get you down.

Having said all of that, Instagram and its community is fantastic. It’s such a wonderful tool if you aren’t comparing. Allow yourself to be creative, to be challenged, to be inspired! Post when you want to post instead of how often you think you have to. Don’t count likes. Use it to show off the beauty in your life, instead of envying the beauty in another.

I like to think that success isn’t always happiness, but true happiness is always success!

And, after reading this, if Instagram is still making you feel like you’re not enough. Unfollow anyone whose images make you question the quality of your own life. Or step away and delete the app for awhile. Life is way too short to let an app dictate whether we’re living our best life or not.

Please stop comparing because you are ALL enough.

Belinda xx

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