Take a millennial who makes a habit of gallivanting around city streets, throwing back pretty cocktails with her equally-dazzling possé of friends. This said-millennial (let’s call her ‘typical millenial’) is also heavily involved in her Instagram account, posting up heavily-filtered photos with captions like, “my bitches!!!” and “TGIF.” Post-night out, this same millennial is looking a lot less pristine. Cue the sprawled-on-the-bathroom-floor “I’m never drinking ever again” snapchats and perpetual hangover. Remember that bright-eyed, squad selfie from last night? Well, those eyes have since reddened, and the squad is now scattered— each taking refuge in their own disheveled bed. Will our typical millennial snap a selfie for Insta in her current state of hangover Hell? I wouldn’t bet money on it.
We’ve all been there.
The truth of the matter is: no one is going to post a selfie when they’re not feeling or looking their absolute best. If a filter can’t hide that zit or bloated stomach after one too many helpings of Panera mac-n-cheese, you bet your ass our typical millennial won’t be posting.
This, my friends, is why we simply *cannot* take everything we see on Instagram to heart.
That model in a bikini carelessly posing with a McDonald’s Big Mac? What we don’t see are those endless hours she spends busting her ass at the gym every morning, counting calories, watching her friends waste away like frail, paper dolls.
Did she even eat it? We’ll never know.
I was heavily inspired to write this article by a recent conversation that I had with a friend of mine that I haven’t seen since high school. Picture the loudest, most iconic male member of your high school student body. Throw in a starting position on the football team among various other inconceivable accomplishments, and that’s my friend to a T. Meanwhile, I was the girl with two left feet and an obsession with AP Style who was mocked and scorned. Almost three years later, I have half a million YouTube followers and a blue check mark on Instagram under my belt.
Aside from who we were in high school, both of us can relate to the warped reality that defines modern-day social media. This guy friend of mine proceeded to ask me how my life is currently, given the fact that I’m constantly posting photos from my various trips all across the country.
He was insinuating that I really looked like I had my shit together nowadays, based on my Instagram profile.
“I’m not really that interesting,” I’d said, truthfully. However, thinking back to my most recent slew of photos taken in foreign settings clad with expensive handbags and clothes…
Shit, I’d thought. SHIT. I’m guilty, too.
Recently, I did a shoot with a kick-ass photographer that I’ve become great friends with. After receiving the photos from the shoot, I remember quickly eliminating every photo plagued with even a microscopic view of flab, cellulite or fly-away hair. Don’t even get me started on all of the apps that have the power to zap away all of these imperfections with the swipe of a finger.
But I can’t be so hard on myself. We all do it, don’t we?
Whether you’re even truly aware of it or not, you’re guilty of it. I’m guilty of it. We’re all guilty of it.
The thing is, this was never really an issue before the current decade. No one was really that concerned about how their lives ‘looked’ to a undetermined number of eyes on the Internet. It’s a current state of affairs that is both aiding and ruining our lives at the same time.
This isn’t an instructional blog post, begging my readers to ‘PLEASE stop posting happy photos of yourselves eating cool food in cool places.’ I’m simply hoping to shed light on the current reality.
Here is what I know to be true: Most people aren’t as happy as they are on Instagram. And if they are, by some stroke of luck, they aren’t that happy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are so many moments that we don’t see. We don’t see the panic attacks, the tears, the homesickness, the hurt… All of these incredibly human emotions, we’ll never see while scrolling through social media.
Because they’re ugly, they’re difficult to talk about, and most terribly of all: they make people uncomfortable. People don’t like to talk about the things they’re uncomfortable with.
We can’t beat ourselves up over what we see on Instagram.
We simply cannot look like the people we see on our feeds. This is due to the fact that sometimes, those people don’t even look like that themselves.
photo courtesies available on my other blog: katybellotte.tumblr.com