Photographs by Chandler Grace!
I grounded myself from Instagram last week to run a little science experiment on me. For the background information, check out my last post HERE. For those of you following along, let's dive into days 3-5!
Day 3 Topic: What do you have the urge to share & why?
Just because I’m not posting, doesn’t mean I’m not taking pictures! I decided to still take photos for the sake of having them, because guess what? Before Instagram, people took pictures of things for totally different reasons than wanting their ex to see how good they looked last night. Shocking, right?
Finding the balance in what I feel okay about posting has been a battle throughout the years. I definitely never want to offend anyone...but in today's climate, people get offended by just about everything. That's why I've come up with a rule for myself before hitting the "post" button: Always Filter Your Photos. GET IT? IT'S A PUN. I always askmyself, "What are you taking pictures of and why do you want other people to see them?" These are the categories I came up with this past week:
Myself...let’s be honest
Time with friends
Why do I share these topics? Although at first blush, most of these topics seem harmless, that's where their danger can lie if allowed to go unchecked. The pure intent behind sharing these categories can be easily corrupted by a nasty little flaw many of us share: an unhealthy need for affirmation. The truth is, a self gratifying motive isn't the complete opposite of a selfless pursuit. Generally, it's one subtle step away.
There aren't giant ditches lying around for well intentioned people to fall into. What gets good people down actually looks more like a staircase with shallow steps that leads to disaster. Even if we tell ourselves, "I can turn back at any point," with every small step we take downward, we get more embedded in that need for affirmation.
The point of this post isn't to just rip myself (and consequently you if you share things similar to me on Insta) apart. The point is to find the pure intention behind the desire to post, promote that, then find the possible sinful self gratification trap, and walk around it.
I grew up in a household that was dedicated to finding the funny in every situation. And personally, I love making people laugh – it’s my absolute favorite thing to do. If I find something funny, whether it’s an old picture of myself, a meme, or something going on around me that’s just hilarious, I feel the urge to share it because I want other people to laugh too.
Even though a sense of humor is my favorite personality trait, I am well aware of how it can be wielded as a coping mechanism, survival tactic, or, at its worst, a weapon. We've all had humor used as a sword against us - and it cuts deep. When someone has a razor sharp sense of humor, it can destroy our confidence. Whether it's sarcasm, negative irony, or just straight up making fun of someone, humor has many ugly masks available to be worn by an insecure person.
I decided a long time ago that I would never use a victim centered joke. I've felt the burn of public humiliation at the hands of an unkind person, and I know that it would kill me inside to make someone else feel that way. To that end, I decided I would never lash out against someone under the guise of humor just to make myself feel better, relieve tension, look cool, or make someone feel less than. I strive to not use humor in a way that makes someone feel stupid for something they believe in, identify as, or simply are, such as political jokes, homophobic slander, the "r" word, sexist centered material, racism, etc.
Don't get me wrong, there is a way to gently poke fun at people and ourselves that not only lightens a situation, but also sheds light on our relatable shared humanity. That kind of humor stems from a place of healthy optimistic perspective. If you're looking for an example, I feel like Ellen Degeneres encompasses how to be kind and funny all at once.
Because of my deep love for "finding the funny" and deep hate of making others feel less-than, I make sure and filter content under this question, "is this joke being made at the expense of someone in an unkind way?" If the answer is yes, not only am I not going to post that thing, but I'm also going to examine my heart as to why I found it humorous in the first place. If the answer is no, then h*ck yeah I'm gonna post it.
This topic feels like a loaded gun. Ya know how Tinker Bell will die if she doesn't get enough attention? Yeah, same...
This is a hard subject for me to filter through because I think strong arguments can be made for both sides: it's a beautiful thing to be confident in yourself, but too much self indulgence can border on grotesque. I've gotten a lot of my confidence back over the last 6 months, and I won't pretend it doesn't show on both my public and personal Instagram feed...and also my blog has about 1 million pics of me on here. My followers have been seeing me a lot lately. However, it is MY feed and people follow our feeds to know more about US. So where's the balance?
It is not a crime to admit that you want people to like your photos. It is not a psychotic tendency to want attention for the effort you've put into your appearance. It is not a bad thing. But, like all of our topics, it CAN be. If you're proud of the way you look in a photo and want to show that off, I personally don't think that makes you self centered. However, if there is an ulterior motive and the picture is just your weapon of choice, that's when maybe we pump the breaks & do a quick heart check.
Instead of creating some gigantic magical algorithm for us to dissect on what makes a picture of us okay to post, I think if you're okay posting something of yourself after answering these few questions, then you do you girlfriend (or boyfriend).
1. Are you currently sad, self conscious, or upset in any way and using this as a means to make yourself feel better?
2. Are you only posting this to derive a specific reaction from one of your followers? If so, why?
3. Are you trying to gain applause or attention for the way your body looks with a sexually charged image?
4. Did you alter something major about your body in this photo that makes the portrayal of yourself dishonest?
**I get it, we all use a little blur tool and some filters every now and then, but if you've warped the bone structure out of your body and melted 20 pounds off yourself, maybe that isn't the healthiest self perspective.
For the topics of "Beautiful Things" and "Time with Friends," I personally found no conviction. For you though, these may be major areas where you have a need for affirmation. If you find yourself subconsciously posting photography or your time with friends in order to gain affirmation in an unhealthy way, I'd challenge you to create your own filter questions on those topics before posting just to make sure it's all coming from a good place.
Day 4 – Mini Experiment:
I’ve decided to “App Replace.” Meaning, every time I have the urge to look at Instagram, I click on Pinterest instead. I hear people say constantly that they spend so much time on Instagram to get “inspired.” I call BS. Seeing that Influencer who weighs -2 pounds in a completely paid for outfit from Nordstroms, advertising a $500 skin care line she could never afford on her own while wearing a full face of makeup on her 50th vacation of the month with the caption, “All natural, spending the day with Mother Earth, resting from all the stress in my life” me want to punch someone in the face. I'm jealous, not inspired. However, if our heart’s intention truly is to be inspired, then inspired we shall be.
That's why I turned to Pinterest. Even though, if you think about it, a lot of the content on Pinterest is the same content I literally just described on Instagram, Pinterest has a proverbial wall between you and the content creator. I don’t know or intentionally follow the people who create the pins, so for some reason it feels a little less personal. It doesn’t feel like a measuring stick anymore. It also isn’t an app that I personally create content for or post content on, so instead of being in the comparison game, I’m an audience member.
Day 5: Treating Symptoms vs. Illness
There are a lot of apps and ways now that you can limit your time on social media. I know people who have app timers that literally lock them out of their social media accounts at certain times during the day, or send a pop up to their screen letting them know when they’ve reached a certain time spent on social media.
I get why for some people this is the perfect solution - they may just be using Instagram as a time killer or as a procrastination tool. Having a timer on the app would be a healthy way to keep yourself from mindlessly wandering on the internet. But for some of us, Instagram can become more than a pass time when we're bored. So even if we limit our time on the app, we’ll just search for something else to distract us from what we're avoiding.
That’s why I didn’t just opt for an app timer and call it a day. I’m not a huge proponent of putting rules on our lives that we then have to keep up with instead of addressing root causes. If there’s a way to focus on making myself more productive instead of just limiting my time wasting tool, then I want to try that first.
The final post with days 6-7 is HERE! I'm most excited to share these topics with you: Don't Feed the Creep & Healthy Reintroduction. Click HERE!