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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451 Comments

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  • Janice Owen

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  • Smith Sandra

    *I am Lydia Fred i lives in united states and i was in a serious relationship with my Ex Guy for 3 good years.. One day we were in a dinner party, we had a little misunderstanding which lead to a Quarrel and he stood up and left me at the dinner party. i try to call him but he was not picking my calls so after than i contacted my brother and told him about it,my brother so much love me that he had to see him on my behalf,he told my brother that it is over between us. I cry all day, Then i contacted a friend of mine that had this similar experience and she directed me to ogodu, and i contacted him and tell him my problems how i lost my relationship with my lover. at first i thought it was not going to be possible.i was ask to come up with a little requirement information of me and my Ex Guy,so i did what i was ask to do, after 24Hours the spell was cast i was in my office when my Ex Guy called me and was asking me to forgive him and come back to him. i was very surprise it

  • Smith Sandra

    *I am Lydia Fred i lives in united states and i was in a serious relationship with my Ex Guy for 3 good years.. One day we were in a dinner party, we had a little misunderstanding which lead to a Quarrel and he stood up and left me at the dinner party. i try to call him but he was not picking my calls so after than i contacted my brother and told him about it,my brother so much love me that he had to see him on my behalf,he told my brother that it is over between us. I cry all day, Then i contacted a friend of mine that had this similar experience and she directed me to ogodu, and i contacted him and tell him my problems how i lost my relationship with my lover. at first i thought it was not going to be possible.i was ask to come up with a little requirement information of me and my Ex Guy,so i did what i was ask to do, after 24Hours the spell was cast i was in my office when my Ex Guy called me and was asking me to forgive him and come back to him. i was very surprise it

  • Cole Singh

    I want to use this medium to tell the world about Doctor MOMODU who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my wife and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i always feel more deeply in pain and agony because she always walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet Doctor MOMODU helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted Doctor MOMODU for help via email and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing Doctor MOMODU can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep

  • MarthaJones

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  • Amir Ayoub

    Am here to say good things about dr olori what this great spell caster done for me. My Name is ayoub Adam, i never believe in spell casting, until when i was was tempted to try it.. i and my wife have been having a lot of problem living together, he will always not make me happy because he have fallen in love with another man outside our relationship, i tried my best to make sure that my husband leave this woman but the more i talk to him the more he makes me fell sad, so my marriage was falling leading to divorce because he no longer gives me attention. so with all this pain and agony, i decided to contact this spell caster DR olori to see if things can work out between me and my wife again. this spell caster DR olori told me that my husband is really under a great spell that he have been charm by some magic, so he told me that he was going to make all things normal again. he went ahead and cast the the spell for me, after 2 days of casting the spell my husband changed completely he c

  • Paul Smith

    An amazing testimony on a spell caster who brought my wife back to me.. My name is Andy Sowers,i live in Australia,and I'm happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids.A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife.so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce.she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she didn't love me anymore.So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife.So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too.So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow he

  • Nill Natasha

    Am Miss Natasha Hill from Australia. I was having serious relationship problems with my Husband and it had resulted in him moving out to his friend’s apartment. Everything got worse because he started going to bars and strip clubs frequently with his friend, getting drunk and passing out. He always threatens me on phone whenever I call him because of all the bad advises that his friend has given him. I really love him and we had been dating for 8 years which gave us a beautiful daughter and a mavalous son. I had also lost a lot of money on therapists until I was introduced to Dr. Osauyi by a friend whom he helped to marry her childhood boyfriend; this gave me total confidence and strength to get him back. I did all he asked and after 48 hours my Husband called me and rushed back home, things just changed between us emotionally. He has a job and stopped drinking and keeping irrelevant friends. It’s a miracle I never believed i twas possible because I had lost all hope until I found Dr.O