How Instagram Almost Ruined My Life

Insecurity, FOMO, and the other unfiltered harms that everyone's
favorite photo app can do to you.

In 2013, the phrase "you have no filter" no longer means you're not invited to dinner parties. It just means you don't have Instagram, an app that turns its users into monsters. Don't get me wrong--the platform is a great way to pass the time and stare at yet more pictures of fashion bloggers in Isabel Marant sneakers on Little West 12th, staring with pouts into someone's lens. It's great for stalking exes or new crushes.

Instagram all started with a dog (as do most great things). The first Instagram was of a puppy. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about what works in our digital economy, I don't know what does.

Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. Many Instagram devotees were furious, determined that Facebook would sully the "privacy" and "intimacy" of Instagram. Neither are true, but it speaks to the power of the app's brand--users had deep feelings about their Instagram experiences.

Is this a problem?

So what if we we are obsessed with photographing our lives, down to every first dance, every flower, every sandwich. Does this mean we have issues? Yes, says the CBC, Canada's public television.

We are ceasing to see. Using our eyes to appreciate beauty is no longer enough. It always has to be documented for some other time--often resulting in an abyss of recordings. My first thought at a pretty sunset--where's my phone?

This is a tremendous problem. For many reasons.

We now look at people, dinners, events as opportunities to show-pony and showcase our lives. Everyone wants fame--our gram-obsession is a slice of that.

The New York Times just wrote about how online validation creates real feeling. Maybe instead of feeling and seeing and exploring the world, we want others to tell us we're doing a good job at it.

There is often so much "instagramming" going on at events I go to (myself included) that it can be hard to enjoy them. Sometimes I want to talk to my friends and celebrate someone's birthday without needing to see them blow out the candles in a photo uploaded by five people in attendance.

Instagram might create a deeper issue, too--feelings of FOMO, feelings of sadness. As I alluded to in my piece about comparing yourself to others--you are comparing yourself to the perception of someone else's glossy, Instagrammed existence. In Greta Gerwig's movie, Francis Ha, Francis tells her best friend that her new life looks so "happy" on her blog, when in reality, she is just projecting that to others and is completely miserable.

Frances Ha, official theatrical trailer

This is how Instagram looks--like one giant party. And don't we all want people to think that our lives are shinier than they really are? That the filters enhance and blur out things we don't want others to see?

It's not just about Instragram, either. All photostreams--Facebook, Flickr upping its game and improving its platform--are just two other ways to stare at photos all day. Snapchat, with the little cheeky ghost, is a photo-sharing app that self-destructs photos. It's adored by teens and also, apparently, Wall Street guys. I think by showing our lives, we are missing out on them.

We even know how bad our photo documentation obsession has become, and yet it won't stop.

Limit yourself to one or two photos per day. Any more than that, and you may as well be a fashion brand's intern.

Why read when you can look at pictures? Why look at and admire beauty when you can photograph it, invert the colors, slap on a Sierra, and share it with everyone you know?

Instagram has turned me into a filtering, snapping, cropping monstrosity.

As a navel gazer, Instagram is perfect: It's a direct expression. It's nearly 100% shoes, as I stare down at my navel. I also stare down at my nails, apparently. Once you become obsessed with photographing your surroundings constantly, it's then about approval from others.

The "golden number," as my brother calls it, is 11 likes. Once you get 11 likes on a photo, you no longer see user names, but instead you see just a number.

To add insult to injury, there are special days on Instagram. My least favorite and yet most utilized is ThrowbackThursday, which began with a photo of a car. TBT, as it's called, is Millennial narcissism and delight at its finest, as it combines both broadcasting and nostalgia.There are even unspoken rules to #TBT, with some Instagram loyalists demanding that the photo has to be "so old" that it's in physical form. What's your filter of choice? Everyone has his or her own, and there have been many articles trying to dissect what your chosen filter means about you. Mine is X-Pro.

Limit yourself to a certain amount of time looking at pictures.

It's easy to fall into what I dub the Instagram Hole: I am now looking at the photos of my ex boyfriend's best friend's new girlfriend's sister's baby (I actually tracked this). Before you know it, you're busy looking at celebrities' selfies and drowning in a sea of summer Hamptons-share-house pictures. (Red solo cups look best without a filter.)

Go play outside without your phone.

Maybe try sharing beauty with a person. Or yourself. The best filters are your eyes, so stop looking down and see the world.

Meredith Fineman is the founder of FinePoint Digital PR. You can read more of her writing here.

[Image: Flickr user Godolphin]

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242 Comments

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  • Rusty Kate

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    My name is Deb Millar and i want to testify of the good work done by a faithful man DR OFURE a spell caster in my life i never thought there is such thing as spiritual intercession. my problem started 5 months back when the father of my kids started putting up some strange behaviour, i never knew he was having an affair outside our matrimonial home. it dawn on me on that faithful day 4th of April 20st 2:23pm when he came to the house to pick his things, that was when i knew that situation has gotten out of hand and he then told me he want to quit the marriage which i have built for over 6 years, i was confused and dumbfounded i called on family's and friends but to no avail. two months after i started having problem with my kids welfare, rent-age and all of it, i really went through hair. until a day i was browsing on the internet and i happen to meet DR OFRUE, i never believed on this but i needed my man back so i gave the spell caster my problem at first i never trusted

  • Rusty Kate

    My name is Rusty Kate, from UK I never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once. when i went to Africa in July this year on a business summit. i ment a man called Dr. OGUDO.He is powerful he could help you cast a spells to bring back my love’s gone,misbehaving lover looking for some one to love you, bring back lost money and magic money spell or spell for a good job.i’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 3 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 2 years… i really loved him, but his mother was against me and he had no good paying job. so when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him..at first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. and in 6 days when i returned to New York, my boyfriend (is now my husband ) he called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with

  • Rusty Kate

    My name is Rusty Kate, from UK I never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once. when i went to Africa in July this year on a business summit. i ment a man called Dr. OGUDO.He is powerful he could help you cast a spells to bring back my love’s gone,misbehaving lover looking for some one to love you, bring back lost money and magic money spell or spell for a good job.i’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 3 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 2 years… i really loved him, but his mother was against me and he had no good paying job. so when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him..at first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. and in 6 days when i returned to New York, my boyfriend (is now my husband ) he called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with

  • Rusty Kate

    My name is Rusty Kate, from UK I never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once. when i went to Africa in July this year on a business summit. i ment a man called Dr. OGUDO.He is powerful he could help you cast a spells to bring back my love’s gone,misbehaving lover looking for some one to love you, bring back lost money and magic money spell or spell for a good job.i’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 3 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 2 years… i really loved him, but his mother was against me and he had no good paying job. so when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him..at first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. and in 6 days when i returned to New York, my boyfriend (is now my husband ) he called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with

  • Rusty Kate

    My name is Rusty Kate, from UK I never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once. when i went to Africa in July this year on a business summit. i ment a man called Dr. OGUDO.He is powerful he could help you cast a spells to bring back my love’s gone,misbehaving lover looking for some one to love you, bring back lost money and magic money spell or spell for a good job.i’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 3 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 2 years… i really loved him, but his mother was against me and he had no good paying job. so when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him..at first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. and in 6 days when i returned to New York, my boyfriend (is now my husband ) he called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with

  • Rusty Kate

    My name is Rusty Kate, from UK I never believed in love spells or magic until i met this spell caster once. when i went to Africa in July this year on a business summit. i ment a man called Dr. OGUDO.He is powerful he could help you cast a spells to bring back my love’s gone,misbehaving lover looking for some one to love you, bring back lost money and magic money spell or spell for a good job.i’m now happy & a living testimony cos the man i had wanted to marry left me 3 weeks before our wedding and my life was upside down cos our relationship has been on for 2 years… i really loved him, but his mother was against me and he had no good paying job. so when i met this spell caster, i told him what happened and explained the situation of things to him..at first i was undecided,skeptical and doubtful, but i just gave it a try. and in 6 days when i returned to New York, my boyfriend (is now my husband ) he called me by himself and came to me apologizing that everything had been settled with

  • Dikeh Niger

    My name is Mary and I base in USA...“My life is back!!! After 1 years of Broken marriage, my husband left me with two kids . I felt like my life was about to end i almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to a spell caster called High Priest Dr idegu which i met online. On one faithful day, as I was browsing through the internet,I came across allot of testimonies about this particular spell caster. Some people testified that he brought their Ex lover back, some testified that he restores womb,cure cancer,and other sickness, some testified that he can cast a spell to stop divorce and so on. i also come across one particular testimony,it was about a woman called Sonia,she testified about how he brought back her Ex lover in less than 7 days, and at the end of her testimony she dropped High Priest Dr idegu 's email address. After reading all these,I decided to give it a try. I contacted him via email and explained my problem to him. In just 3 days, my h

  • Roland Aslem

    i want to use this medium to say a big thank you to Dr abolo who brought back my ex lover within 48hour after i have been scammed in several occasions. this great Doctor make me to believe that i will smile back again i thought he was scolding me and something in me said give me a chance to prove him self before you give up because in a place were there are 20 bad people there must be a good one inside. then i gave him the chance suddenly, within the next 48 hours my ex lover whom has left me for 3months and never even text or call me just call me that day telling me she was sorry for what he did and that i should please find a place in my hart to forgive her and let her come back home.in fact i don't even know how to thank this great Dr abolo for his wonderful spell all i want to be doing now is just to stay at the internet sharing the good news and publishing him email to the world. i believe that there are so many people out there having a relationship problem or another and some fi

  • Ann Marry

    Hello, Good day to you all. I am Miss Ann Marry, I want to share my testimony to you all. I was in a relationship to my Ex husband for 2 years but because he was not meeting up and was constantly in financial problems and he was afraid of me cause i was an H,I,V, victim, my family encouraged me to divorce him. I ended up marrying someone else but now,I am not happy anymore. All I think about is my ex-husband. He is now the only thing I think about all day.I breaking up with my current husband because I am no longer happy with him and he seems to agree that we go our separate ways. I have been thinking of contacting my Ex husband but I don’t know how he would react since i left him when he was really in a financial mess. It’s been 2 years since we divorced. i do not know how to contact him so i told a friend of mine, who has told me before that she has used one Mr Agbonlahor power before a,k,a, Dr Ukure, I was told that he is a spell caster, that he can help me, so i contact him. i was