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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385 Comments

  • Karen Tanya

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  • Anabella Garrett

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    How I Get My Husband Back With The Help Of Dr Brave

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  • Morrison Penn

    GREETINGS……………….My name is MORRISON PENN i live in UK and i got married to MARK PENN after nine years,he broke up with me because of his mistress , I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything i have, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to a female friend and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don’t believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it,then I meant a spell caster called DR JADE and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before 48 hours , that my husband will return to me , he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My husband called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he

  • Maria Charos

    Its a great pleasure to testify to the good work of Doctor Ebakor. A couple of years ago, my Husband left home after we had little misunderstanding, he never returned, no phone calls, no letters, no emails and no sign of him anywhere. My daughter got sick so ill, things were so tough for me. I had lost hope, 2 years ago, i met a psychic, he said he would help me, i paid over $700 and still nothing happened, i lost hope completely, my daughters situation got worse each day. Last month, i saw a posting concerning the good works of the Spiritual spell caster (Doctor Ebakor). I gave him a try and he asked me to provide the spiritual materials needed to cast the spells and i paid just $250 for all three spells (Bring Lover back, Healing spell and Career spells). To my greatest surprise, my husband called me within 12 to 16 hours and told me he was sorry and that he wants to come back to me and that he would explain everything when he comes back, three days later, i got a new job with a Re

  • Desmond Charlie

    Hello my name is Mr Desmond from Australia It's awesome and amazing. My name is Jerry Mike from the United States. Getting my wife back is what i least expected and could never imagine. I and my wife have been married for five years and we have been living happily but all of a sudden she changed completely and turned away from me but i never knew what was going on, and i tried to ask her but she refused to tell me what the problem is, and as time went on she sought for a divorce. I was so worried and confused. During my search for a way out, a friend of mine who had similar problem told me about a great spell caster called Great Dr Ogba who helped him with his situation. I never use to believe in spell casting in my entire life because i never thought it will work but i tried to give this man a chance and to my greatest surprise it got me a positive result and i was able to get my wife back. Even after the spell caster did his work, i discovered that my wife fell so much in love with

  • 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

    My name is Sarah Andy i am here to give testimony of how i got back my husband, we got married for more than 9 years and have gotten two kids. thing were going well with us and we are always happy. until one day my husband started to behave in a way i could not understand, i was very confused by the way he treat me and the kids. later that month he did not come home again and he called me that he want a divorce, i asked him what have i done wrong to deserve this from him, all he was saying is that he want a divorce that he hate me and do not want to see me again in his life, i was mad and also frustrated do not know what to do,i was sick for more than 2 weeks because of the divorce. i love him so much he was everything to me without him my life is incomplete. i told my sister and she told me to contact a spell caster, i never believe in all this spell casting of a thing. i just want to try if something will come out of it. i contacted Dr john for the return of my husband to me, they t

  • Johnson Joy

    GREETINGS...................My name is JOHNSON JOY i live in USA and i got married to JOHN KELVIN after seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to a female friend and she suggested that I should contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that don't believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I meant a spell caster called DR IMONAH and I email him, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before tow days, that my husband will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My husband called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves

  • 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

  • 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