I made an Instagram, and I don’t know how I feel about it.
I am notorious for my relatively-cavemanesque approach to social media. Facebook and Snapchat have always been enough for me. I’m the queen of late-night procrastination struggles, (anyone care to guess when this article was written?) but at least I can recognize my need to refrain from other outlets of distraction.
In this respect, it was unfortunate that one night in early January, my friend took my phone and created an Instagram account for me. Before I knew it, I was 10 followers in and too many people had sent me messages of encouragement for me to quit.
Instagram is pretty untarnished from the surface. With so many Insta-addict friends, I figured it must be as good as they say. But, from my experiences, it isn’t. And here’s why.
The first self-deprecating aspect of Instagram: the followers/following ratio. Nobody cares how many Facebook or Snapchat friends someone has, but as soon as it comes to Instagram, ratio is everything. I soon realized that I couldn’t, reckless, follow whoever I’d like, as to do so would put me at risk of not being followed back. I figured that my “ratio” would be fine as long as I followed those I considered friends; Unfortunately, I learned through the rough lens of Instagram which of my “friends” considered me to be the same.
I watched as teammates, school friends and even familiar acquaintances accepted my follow request and didn’t return the favor. Nine, to be exact. Nine people didn’t consider my friendship reason enough to follow me back. Nine people received a notification saying that I had chosen to follow them, and nine people willfully decided to allow this friendship to be a one-way street. Am I the only one that felt a wave of disappointment? They’ll see if I unfollow them, but why would I want to continue seeing the reminder posts of what I thought was mutual friendship?
This idea of Insta-fame brings me to my last topic of grievance; posting.
I got 43 likes on my first post. Every favorite was like a shot of endorphins coursed through my bloodstream, every notification brought more and more assurance that I was “cool.” But then I scroll through my feed, and people every day receive 200+ favorites on selfies and other casual pictures, pictures that I’m sure they didn’t spend hours deciding on and justifying like I did with mine.
I hate that the appreciation other people receive for their pictures makes mine feel increasingly irrelevant. I hate that some people will receive more favorites for a random post than I will ever receive. I hate that Instagram is essentially a popularity contest, and I hate that, despite knowing it shouldn’t matter to me, it does.
Instagram is perfect in theory. It’s an outlet for people to share with their friends fun pictures;
it’s an outlet to show recognition for great pictures and it’s an outlet for friends to keep in touch. But as Albert Einstein once said, “In theory, practice and theory are the same. In practice, they are not.”