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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373 Comments

  • Morrison Penn

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  • Maria Charos

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  • Nathalie Alyon

    Thank you for the article. For the very reasons you describe, I resisted the world of social media and photo sharing but finally gave in recently in order to promote my new blog. I had an interesting experience with "documentation" while doing a diving course in Thailand - I wasn't aware of being filmed until a video surfaced months later. I wrote about how it transformed the actual experience on my blog: http://packthestory.com/pictures-memories-and-lots-of-fish-diving-in-ko-tao/ I hope you enjoy it.

  • Andy Sarah

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  • Johnson Joy

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  • Joy Jack

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  • Joy Jack

    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 BRIGHT 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 BRIGHT 's e-mail 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, m

  • Joy Jack

    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 BRIGHT 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 BRIGHT 's e-mail 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, m

  • i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world

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  • i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world

    My name is Ginyiner White i am from usa , I have been married for over 5years and no issue(baby) to show for it, I and my husband have gone to different places for help for me to get pregnant, but all our efforts where fruitless. My husband became tired of me and started accusing me of the cause of our problem. I tried to make him believe that I don’t know why I cannot get pregnant. But as a man he pays deaf ears to my words. It came to a time when he gave me an ultimatum to leave his house. I became more crazy and restless. I search for help including where there is no help. My husband finally sent me packing after 5years of our marriage. when I was in my parents’ house I was still seaing for a solution until I met an old school friend whom gave me the contact of this spell caster, Dr,OGUDO, she said he saved her marriage too. I contacted him for help. He told me that it is never too late that I will need two spell i

  • Morgan Tracy

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  • Morgan Tracy

    My name is MORGAN TRACY from USA My husband and I were happy as far as I could tell and I never thought that we would break up. When his cousin died in a tragic car accident he went back to London for a week to be with his family. I could not go because I was in the middle of entertaining out of town clients for work. He did not seem to be upset that I could not go so I let him be. The next thing that I know, he reconnected with an old friend from high school that he had a crush on years ago and they started to have an affair! I had no clue what was going on until a month after he came back from London.He proceeded to see both her and I until I caught him testing her one night. I confronted him and he told me the truth about what happened. We broke up and went our separate ways. Neither of us fought for our relationship. I was angry and decided not to be upset about it and just keep it moving. Then after about a month of not speaking to him I became sad. I wanted him to tell me that he

  • Danny Rose

    I never use to believe in spell casting until i met Great Dr Okiriguo a powerful spell caster who helped me to be a happy person again. My name is Gwen Marcus and i reside in USA. After 4 years of Broken marriage, my husband left me with two kids. I felt like my life was about to end and i almost committed suicide, i was emotionally down for a very long time. Thanks to a Great spell caster called Great Dr Okiriguo which i met online on one faithful day when I was browsing through the internet, i came across a lot of testimonies about this particular Great spell caster how he has helped so many people. he has helped people to bring back their Ex lovers, some testified that he restores womb, cure cancer, hiv and other sickness, and so on. I also came across a testimony, it was about a woman called Stella, she testified about how his spell made her to be pregnant after so many years of bareness and at the end of her testimony she dropped Great Dr Okiriguo's email address. After reading

  • itadonsolutionhome

    I will love to share my testimony with everyone around the world. I got married to my husband about 2 years ago, we started having problems at home like, we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things, he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side. I have never love any man in my life except him. He is the father of my child and i didn't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today. Few months ago he now decided to leave me and the kid. And being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken because of what happened. I called my mom and explained every thing to her. It was then,my mother told me about Dr Itadon, of how he helped her solved the problem between her and my dad . I was surprised about it, because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. I

  • Morgan Tracy

    My name is MORGAN TRACY from USA My husband and I were happy as far as I could tell and I never thought that we would break up. When his cousin died in a tragic car accident he went back to London for a week to be with his family. I could not go because I was in the middle of entertaining out of town clients for work. He did not seem to be upset that I could not go so I let him be. The next thing that I know, he reconnected with an old friend from high school that he had a crush on years ago and they started to have an affair! I had no clue what was going on until a month after he came back from London.He proceeded to see both her and I until I caught him testing her one night. I confronted him and he told me the truth about what happened. We broke up and went our separate ways. Neither of us fought for our relationship. I was angry and decided not to be upset about it and just keep it moving. Then after about a month of not speaking to him I became sad. I wanted him to tell me that he

  • itadonsolutionhome

    I will love to share my testimony with everyone around the world. I got married to my husband about 2 years ago, we started having problems at home like, we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things, he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side. I have never love any man in my life except him. He is the father of my child and i didn't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today. Few months ago he now decided to leave me and the kid. And being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken because of what happened. I called my mom and explained every thing to her. It was then,my mother told me about Dr Itadon, of how he helped her solved the problem between her and my dad . I was surprised about it, because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. I

  • pswan529

    Hello all, please permit me to quickly use this medium to tell you about the spell caster that saved my relationship and hopefully you all find this testimony. I have been contacting different spell casters to help me get my husband back, all they did to me was rip me off my money and gave me false hopes. The only spell caster that was able to solve my relationship problem is Dr.Azuba. When a friend introduced me to him, at first I thought he would be the same as other previous spell casters, I hesitated and later decided to give him my last try. He went further to perform some readings and opened my eyes to so many things I never knew was the cause of my broken marriage, I pleaded for him to help me restore my marriage, he agreed and cast a spell for me and that was how my husband that left me and our daughter for 2years and 8months gave me a call that he wants to come back home, 2days later my husband came knocking at the door, he apologised for his mistakes and cruelty. I am so happ

  • Gary Andrew

    I am David Eric,I want to say thank to dr.trust for everything he did in my life. To everyone who doesn't believe in spell, I was one like you at first. I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to do this since I've tried others so-called spells casters and they did not work and was a waste of my time and money. However, when I read so many testimonials of dr.tust how he help people to get back their ex lover. dr.tust answered all my questions and was very nice about everything, I decided to give it a try. I figured it would be my last try to get my ex girlfriend back. i email dr.trust and tell him everything.he let me know which spells would be most appropriate for me and I chose the one that was to get her back to me and stay with me and to marry me.As soon as he finish the spells, my girlfriend came back into my life! It was a miracle to me and I’m so thankful to him, that is why i am sharing this testimony to those who need his help. Things have been going well, and pretty much according to

  • Gary Andrew

    I am David Eric,I want to say thank to dr.trust for everything he did in my life. To everyone who doesn't believe in spell, I was one like you at first. I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to do this since I've tried others so-called spells casters and they did not work and was a waste of my time and money. However, when I read so many testimonials of dr.tust how he help people to get back their ex lover. dr.tust answered all my questions and was very nice about everything, I decided to give it a try. I figured it would be my last try to get my ex girlfriend back. i email dr.trust and tell him everything.he let me know which spells would be most appropriate for me and I chose the one that was to get her back to me and stay with me and to marry me.As soon as he finish the spells, my girlfriend came back into my life! It was a miracle to me and I’m so thankful to him, that is why i am sharing this testimony to those who need his help. Things have been going well, and pretty much according to