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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286 Comments

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  • Dugan Marian

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  • Rusty Kate

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  • Rusty Kate

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  • Irene Flora

    *I never knew people still have powers and make things happened this way. my boyfriend LENON STAIN left me for another girl for three months’ ever since then my life have been filled with pains sorrow and heart break because he was my first love who disvirgin me when i was 21 years old. about two years ago, A friend of mine LANA told me he saw some testimonies of this great Dr Alusi that he can bring back lover within some few days, i laugh it out and said i am not interested but because of the love my friend had for me, she consulted the great priest on my behalf and to my greatest surprise after three days my boyfriend called me for the very first time after three months that he is missing me and that he is so sorry for every thing he made me went through and as i speak right now we are happily married. i still can’t believe it, because it highly unbelievable it just too real to be real. Thank you Dr Alusi for bringing back my lover and also to my lovely friend who inter

  • Irene Flora

    *I never knew people still have powers and make things happened this way. my boyfriend LENON STAIN left me for another girl for three months’ ever since then my life have been filled with pains sorrow and heart break because he was my first love who disvirgin me when i was 21 years old. about two years ago, A friend of mine LANA told me he saw some testimonies of this great Dr Alusi that he can bring back lover within some few days, i laugh it out and said i am not interested but because of the love my friend had for me, she consulted the great priest on my behalf and to my greatest surprise after three days my boyfriend called me for the very first time after three months that he is missing me and that he is so sorry for every thing he made me went through and as i speak right now we are happily married. i still can’t believe it, because it highly unbelievable it just too real to be real. Thank you Dr Alusi for bringing back my lover and also to my lovely friend who inter

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  • Rusty Kate

    Hello every body Am CLARA HARRY , from USA, Dr,)OGUDO is the only Traditional root and herbs man that can cure your HIV who could ever get my HIV-AIDS cured with his healing spell, i have tried almost everything but i couldn't find any solution on my disease, despite all these happening to me, i always spend a lot to buy a HIV drugs from hospital and taking some several medications but no relieve, until one day i was just browsing on the internet when i come across a great post of !Michelle! who truly said that she was been diagnose with HIV and was healed that very week through the help of these great powerful healing spell doctor, sometime i really wonder why people called him Dr,OGUDO, i never knew it was all because of the great and perfect work that he has been doing that is causing all this. so i quickly contacted him, and he ask me some few questions and he said a thing i will never forget that anyone who contacted him is ! always getting his or her healing in just 6 hours after

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  • Robert Sandra

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    i was married to my husband for 5 years we were living happily together for this years and not until he traveled to Italy for a business trip where he met this girl and since then he hate me and the kids and love her only. so when my husband came back from the trip he said he does not want to see me and my kids again so he drove us out of the house and he was now going to Italy to see that other woman. so i and my kids were now so frustrated and i was just staying with my mum and i was not be treating good because my mother got married to another man after my father death so the man she got married to was not treating her well, i and my kids were so confuse and i was searching for a way to get my husband back home because i love and cherish him so much so one day as i was browsing on my computer i saw a testimony about this spell caster DR alabokun, testimonies shared on the internet by a lady and

  • Bella Wilbert
     Hello

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    and my Husband when he left me for another woman, i saw an email about Dr. Akpan how he helped someone and i also decided to

    contact him and when i contacted him, he perform a powerful love spell for me and now i am so happy to say that my husband

    billey is now with me again, So if you are in problems just like me and you are looking for a man that can help you, hurray

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  • Bella Wilbert
     Hello

    My Name is Bella Wilbert from United states, i am here to thank a spell caster called Dr. Akpan that helped me to reunite i

    and my Husband when he left me for another woman, i saw an email about Dr. Akpan how he helped someone and i also decided to

    contact him and when i contacted him, he perform a powerful love spell for me and now i am so happy to say that my husband

    billey is now with me again, So if you are in problems just like me and you are looking for a man that can help you, hurray

    up now and contact Dr. Akpan via this email: drakpansolutioncenter@gmail.com or call him +2348073802719 Contact him now and i assure you that he is going to help you redem and reunite your marriage. Thanks..

  • Bella Wilbert
     Hello

    My Name is Bella Wilbert from United states, i am here to thank a spell caster called Dr. Akpan that helped me to reunite i

    and my Husband when he left me for another woman, i saw an email about Dr. Akpan how he helped someone and i also decided to

    contact him and when i contacted him, he perform a powerful love spell for me and now i am so happy to say that my husband

    billey is now with me again, So if you are in problems just like me and you are looking for a man that can help you, hurray

    up now and contact Dr. Akpan via this email: drakpansolutioncenter@gmail.com or call him +2348073802719 Contact him now and i assure you that he is going to help you redem and reunite your marriage. Thanks..