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OPINION: My life looks nothing like my Instagram and neither does yours

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Mary Ann Vagnerova | The Daily Wildcat

A person takes a selfie for Instagram.

Recently, I have been dissecting and pondering a compliment I receive sometimes: that I have a nice Instagram. I’ve been given this compliment more times than I can say, and my friends have, too. ”So-and-so has a nice Instagram,” we agree. 

We stare into the lives of these girls — because they’re usually girls — through a carefully crafted and filtered lens. We ooh and aah at their perfect social lives, effortlessly beautiful photos and what they had for brunch. We know that so-and-so just loves her sorority sisters and misses her dog that passed away last spring. 

We’ve never met so-and-so. But we know they have a nice Instagram. And perhaps while admiring them we begin to loathe ourselves.

The beauty of so-and-so is that every single one of us is so-and-so. We all post perfect pictures with an audience of silent admirers who are deceived by the illusion we try to uphold. I look at my Instagram and while I see myself, I also see photos that couldn’t be less linear with both what I look like and what my life looks like 75 percent of the time.

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I don’t post photos of me crying, or bloated or when I don’t have any plans on a Saturday night. I don’t post these moments and neither do you — neither does your favorite so-and-so. Whether that is a comfort or incredibly unnerving, I guess, is entirely up to the individual. 

I want to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with not posting these "non-Instagrammable" moments of life — it’s human. We want to present ourselves in the best way possible, in a way of our own design. We can do this with Instagram, manipulate and control the way we want people to perceive our lives. We recognize this performative behavior within ourselves but cannot seem to discern it within others. 

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How have we become so blind to real life? 

Recent Instagram trends like photo dumps or the “make Instagram casual again” make it even harder for us to clear our vision. It is a sort of out-of-body experience looking at these seemingly effortless yet meticulously planned series of photos. A collection of drinks with friends, an aesthetic cigarette laying on the floor — all for the perfect Instagram feed. 

I see these photos and ask myself if we all collectively realize that the act of attempting to portray something as natural and effortless is a performance within itself. I see these photos and feel tired because the authenticity of our lives and how we perceive them deteriorates with each and every post. 

It’s easy to peer from the outside in, asking ourselves why our lives don’t look as fun as person A’s or why our abs aren’t as toned as person B’s. But, if we can’t separate real life from its Instagram counterpart, we won’t ever be content with the moments that matter. 

A study done by the Royal Society for Public Health found that four out of five major social platforms made people feel worse about themselves and their lives. 

As crazy as it sounds, the terrible way social media makes us feel isn’t a deterrent for most — especially girls. A recent study by the University of Essex and the University College London found that 40% of girls admitted to being on their social media accounts for more than three hours a day in comparison to only 20% of boys. It’s no coincidence that these statistics go hand in hand with girls having higher rates of body image issues, depression and more. 

We know Instagram isn’t real, yet we continue to scroll. We know that it is harming us and yet we cannot seem to find the willpower to stop. 

We all have a nice Instagram, but unfortunately, that will never suffice for a nice life. It’s important to remember that our Instagram feeds and profiles are only a small and rather meaningless fraction of who we are.

I can guarantee that so-and-so is much more interesting than the posts they curate for their Instagram profile — and so are you. If we are so wrapped up in the way that we want to be perceived, we’ll be unable to recognize ourselves. 


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Olivia Krupp

Olivia is a freshman who has yet to declare her major. She enjoys reading, foreign films and poetry in her free time.


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