Instagram…an instant feed of photos that all say 1000 words. What are the words they’re saying to you?
Did your parents ever tell you, “garbage in, garbage out?” Mine did, and if that’s true, then putting healthy, positive, inspiring things in must surely lead to outputting the same.
I’ve noticed that what I read, watch and listen to can really affect my mood, or my thought patterns and mindset, especially over time. Some days, if we’re honest, we spend a lot of time with social media, and it’s influencing us in such a huge way, whether we want to admit it or not. There are tonnes of studies online now about the effects of things like Facebook and Instagram on our mental health, our relationships, our self-esteem, and more. I’m not against either of these programs, and I quite like them, but they can be used to create negativity or positivity, and we should be aware of what we’re putting into our minds.
For those of us that were raised without social media, we at least had our childhoods to live without serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). If we weren’t invited to the sleepover we may or may not have heard about it at school the following week. Now, we’re not only not invited, but we get to have all the cute pics of the girls living it up in their pj’s and face masks pushed in our faces at the exact moment it’s happening, reminding us that we weren’t important enough to be there ourselves. Those of us who grew up without social media also didn’t have a constantly available source of something to compare ourselves to, in order to see if we measured up. We had to compare ourselves to a smaller number of real people in our lives; now we compare ourselves to images of hundreds, maybe thousands of people, presenting the best sides of themselves. We take the number of likes on our photos as a direct representation of how many people value us.
With Instagram, Facebook, and so many other social media sites consuming a lot of our time, I believe we need to be careful of who we’re following, and how much time we’re investing in following them.
When I first got Instagram, I started following a bunch of different people, companies, brands, celebrities, fitness profiles, etc.. As I was scrolling through my feed day after day, I began noticing that what certain people were posting were leaving me feeling a variety of negative emotions.
Sometimes, I would see products that I didn’t have, that looked so nice and attractive, and then all of a sudden, my wardrobe or makeup items weren’t good enough anymore. I would see quotes feeding me the belief that I deserve to have everything I’ve ever wanted in life, because I’m worth it. These types of quotes are meant to be positive and inspirational, I’m sure, but upon reading them so often, suddenly, I wasn’t focusing on all of the things I have to be grateful for, but on the things I lack; I was feeling entitled to have more. I would see fitness models, and suddenly feel like I wasn’t strong enough, or that I needed to sculpt certain muscles more. I realized one day that I was choosing to follow these people; nobody forced me to look at their photos. I was in control of what I was putting in my mind, and I was coming away from social media feeling less than. Greedy. Ugly. Weak. Broke. Undeserving. Over-deserving. Unsatisfied. Ungrateful.
That was the day I decided to clean out my Instagram, and it’s time to do it again. I deleted all of the accounts that were posting things that left me uninspired, and decided to find accounts that inspired me. I started following different fitness people, that post real, genuine photos and share stories of their vulnerabilities and successes. I started following quotes accounts that post motivational quotes to work hard and achieve goals. I followed Bible verse accounts, and lots of travel accounts that show photos of places I have been, or want to visit one day. I noticed a big change in my mindset once I was more deliberate to start using Instagram as a tool to find inspiration, rather than mindlessly following anyone and everyone.
To quickly address the issue of FOMO, I’m not sure how it can really be avoided, if we want to follow people we know in our communities. I know lots of kids and teens with social media are experiencing it, and honestly, I’ve experienced it as an adult too, more than once. It just plain sucks to see others doing something that you wish you were a part of. As much as I don’t like it, I know that I’ve been the instigator of this too; I’ve posted photos of me with a couple of girlfriends and led other girlfriends to be hurt that they weren’t invited. (I’m still sorry for this.)
Readers, this is where I would love to get the discussion going. I really want your opinions on this issue! Please comment with your experiences if you feel comfortable.
I think there are two sides to handling this feeling/fear of missing out. In certain sensitive situations, we need to be careful of what we’re posting, and try to be mindful of how we may affect someone else. As the viewer, these feelings might be something we have to work on in our relationships. If the relationship matters enough, and is a quality one, a conversation about the post should clarify the situation, and solidify the relationship. If it’s not the type of relationship that lends to a conversation, then it may be something we need to work on in ourselves; we may need to find ways to increase our sense of self worth. This is a big topic, and I don’t have the answers for this, but I’m curious to read your thoughts.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you find ways to make your social media apps Insta-inspire you!