It’s easy to look at an Instagram feed or a blogger’s website and think you know everything about their life from a single glance. It’s easy to look at a beautifully staged and edited photo and mistake it for reality. We do it all the time. Whether it be a celebrity’s Instagram photos (*cough* Kylie Jenner *cough*) or photos of a friend’s exotic vacation… it’s easy to covet what we don’t have.
Of course I’ll admit that I’m as guilty as anyone of being struck by online envy. I’ve used Tumblr for as long as I can remember, and even though I know how much effort some bloggers go to in order to make their photos “Gram-worthy”, I still can’t help comparing myself and my own Instagram to theirs.
Why don’t my photos ever turn out that beautifully? Why can’t I afford those clothes too? Wow, they totally can rock that itsy-bitsy bathing suit. Why don’t I have a body like that?
It’s easy to feel insecure about yourself, your looks, and your own life when you’re scrolling through what appears to be someone else’s picture perfect reality. But, as I’ve come to learn throughout the years, when it comes to social media… we see the reality someone else wants us to see.
Yep, you heard me correctly.
Everything we see on social media is a byproduct of how a person chooses to project themselves to the outside world. We are given a small snapshot manipulated through someone else’s lens. As any true millennial knows– social media isn’t just a way to stay in touch, it’s also a way to show off your own fantastic social life or judge someone else for a lack thereof. It’s why those who are invited to all the hot parties add videos to their Snapchat stories (even if it’s already obvious who was or wasn’t invited), or why fashionistas spend so much time planning and uploading edited photos of their outfits on Instagram.
With social media, we not only have something to prove in the real world… but online too.
Even I, myself, am guilty of not showing the reality of my day to day life on social media. That being said, I don’t actually intend to. I am well aware that everything I publish online is up for grabs, judgment, or ridicule. It is for this reason exactly that I am hyper-vigilant of what I post across my various social media accounts.
I decided to make this post mostly because I’ve been told several times that my Instagram is so ‘aesthetic’, and that my life looks so ‘stylish’ and ‘exciting’ and ‘artsy’. Even people I don’t personally know have seen my Instagram and have already formulated a preconceived notion of what I’m like without actually knowing me at all.
The truth and nothing but the truth? I work around eleven hours a day, four days a week. I’m covered in coffee grinds a majority of the time. I work hard to take pretty photos and have developed my own editing technique through trial and error. My makeup does smudge at times, and my eyebrows don’t always stay in place. I’m not upper-class, or even upper-middle-class. I actually have to w o r k for my spending money. I don’t always take a perfect photo on my first try. I have insecurities too and I’m not always happy with my thighs or my weight or my grades. The girl I project to the rest of the world is not necessarily the same girl I am in real life.
Just realize that regardless of what you see on my Instagram or blog, you don’t actually know me or any of my intimate thoughts. You know a fantasy, a public perception, and a brand… but you don’t actually know the girl behind the keyboard. The same goes for many others who use social media similarly. The only thing we know of one another are the images we choose to project of ourselves.
But that’s just it– social media is merely an image. Nothing about it is reality.
That’s why I put so much work into my own accounts… because when life gets rough and times get tough, I want to pretend my life is the best damn fantasy it can be.