Have you ever browsed Instagram and stumbled upon an image of someone you’d wind up envying? Perhaps they managed to make their eyeliner come out perfectly, or maybe their skin is flawless. They could have the muscles that you wish you had, or the hair you only have in your dreams. You might be attracted to more than just their looks. What about the Instagram user with the room decor that looks like it was taken straight from a magazine? The person who traveled somewhere this weekend while you were home working? After scrolling through months worth of photos on their profile, does it make you feel inadequate? It’s definitely happened to me, and it still does.
Since I started studying communications and media in college, I’ve come to realize quite a few things about social media that put things in perspective as a self-conscious browser. The most important thing to keep in mind is that social media is used to paint a favorable picture of a person to the public. You’re only going to see posts that feature a person at their best. You’re much less likely to see pictures of them that didn’t take effort to prepare. Even if a person takes a picture that’s tagged #IWokeUpLikeThis, chances are that’s the 20th time they tried to take that picture. Everyone’s social media accounts are basically their own little PR stunts.
With this in mind, remember that social media is accessed through digital means. There are plenty of ways to alter images through technology, whether a user is applying the filters that Instagram provides or if they’re editing their selfies on Photoshop. If the exact lighting that is needed can’t be accessed, a serious user will either use unnatural lighting and angles, or they’ll mess with the brightness and contrast tools on Instagram. This isn’t to say that every nice picture is manipulated, but keep in mind that everything is not always what it appears to be.
Have you ever wished that your Instagram pictures would bring in hundreds of likes, just like the people you follow? It’s definitely possible, but most Instagram users don’t instantly receive that much praise without some pushing on their part. Some people buy followers and likes on the app. For some people, Instagram is a number’s game- who can get the most likes on a picture? At the end of the day, though, it’s not a competition like some people think it is.
Here are some tips that I’ve used myself to try to keep Instagram stalking from ruining my day:
- Follow profiles that promote inner growth and better moods. Try @puppiesofinstagram or @thegoodquote to start. (not sponsored; I simply found these via the search bar)
- Try to remember that everything is not what it seems. You’re only getting a small glimpse of someone’s life.
- Remember that you can acknowledge that something is beautiful, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t, too.
- Avoid searching for hashtags that might trigger negative emotions.
- You are not defined by the number of followers and Instagram likes you can acquire, but by your character.