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The Genuineness of your Instagram Feed

Just to be clear, I'm writing this post from the perspective of an eighteen-year-old girl who is terrible at social media. Just awful. I always forget to post things, and I'm always super hesitant whenever I do. That being said, I still consider myself to be very pro-social media when other people do it. This is mostly due to the fact that there are a lot of social-media-savvy bloggers and people who I really admire. And despite the common argument about the superficiality of social media, I don't think their picture-perfect instagram feeds are as harmful or dishonest as they are often made out to be.

A few days ago I stumbled across a Huffington Post article called, "Why I Choose to Live a Non-Instagramable Life." It was a lovely, artistically-written article about the problem with perfect Instagram feeds: they aren't real life. Instead, the author says we should live "non-instagramable" lives that include "every bit of doubt, self-pity, adrenaline, hallowness and love we feel; with too much texture for a caged-in space built of digital pixels." She says that we are constantly distracted by trying to take and post perfect pictures so that we can receive validation that we are "doing life right."




And I can see her argument. I really can. Some days, even as a pro-social-media person, I find myself equating perfect social media feeds to photoshopped models in fashion magazines. You're portraying an unrealistic idea about what your life is like! You're editing out the 'bad' parts and only showing the pretty, smiley parts! Real, pure, messy life is not so Instagram-pretty!

And, partially, I think the author of that article is right. Life, in it's entirety, is not Instagramable. But it's also not write-able, or paint-able, or film-able, or read-able. Each of our lives are too big and too messy to be fully represented in one single thing, whether it's a memoir or a pretty blog post. But just because we choose to highlight certain parts of our lives in these ways doesn't mean we're lying.

Here's what I think: having a pretty social media is not like photoshopping a model; it's more like putting on makeup. Maybe you put time and effort into making yourself all dolled up (while still recognizing that you were awesome all along), because it makes you feel confident and empowered.

Maybe your makeup, like your social media feed, is your own sort of art creation; something you do to express yourself and represent your style.

Maybe it's a pretty swipe of blush and some mascara, or maybe it's a dramatic smokey-eye with purple lips. Maybe it's an Instagram photo of perfectly-placed notebooks and pretty cups of tea, or maybe it's a snapshot of crazy-exciting things you've done.

Maybe it doesn't include every bit of "real life." Maybe your desk isn't usually as beautifully organized as your Instagram would suggest, or maybe you leave out the boring, cheese-doodle-eating, netflix-watching parts of your weekend. Maybe there are zits and dark circles under the makeup you're wearing.

Maybe you choose to post photos that paint up your life like a painted-up face.

I think that's okay.


Because it's still you. It's still your life, your choice of self-expression, and your own empowerment. This isn't the same as somebody Photoshopping your body without your approval, trying to make you fit society's expectations of beauty. This is your decision. Maybe you choose to portray yourself in a way that fits the status quo, but maybe you don't. Maybe you have your own reasons.

I'm not going to say that how people represent themselves on social media isn't at all harmful. I know that people look at flawless Instagram feeds and think, "I wish my life was that pretty" because I do too. But I think we should also try to remember that social media isn't necessarily meant to be a crystal-clear window into all the gritty details of our whole lives. For a lot of people, it's a way to share the parts of their lives that they are most proud of, and to create a collection of photos or jokes or thoughts that represent and express who they are.

Life may not be fully "Instagramable" in its entirety, but that doesn't mean you can't share the pieces that you feel empowered to share. So, next time when you see a perfectly themed feed on instagram, or some professional-photographer fashion photos, or a perfectly lit bowl of oatmeal, remember that there was probably a fair amount (tons) of effort that went into it all. And not for dishonest, manipulative reasons; for creative, self-expressive ones.

We don't need Instagram to prove that we're "doing life right." We really don't. But social media can be a fun tool to celebrate the events and creations that make us feel like we really are.

31 comments

  1. This was really interesting, Instagram has been getting a bad press due to the whole "Is This Real Life?" debate but, truly, I've never actually made the claim that my Insta is my life (If anyone really thinks I do 20 flat lays of my makeup and books before I put them on or read them, they're deluded), I use insta as a platform of art, I love making the colours match and popping stuff on that reflects my blog sceheme, Sometimes I want to escape the monotony of real life (no body wants to see that my kitten just peed under the bath) so I use Insta as an escape.... wow this turned into a long reply haha.

    Rosy | Sparkles of Light Blog

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    1. I totally agree- it's an art form. An escape is a good way of describing it. Thanks for your comment, Rosy!

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  2. I absolutely agree! Instagram IS like makeup. Furthermore, there's a reason we don't share every aspect of real life.... real life can be ugly! Think about... going to the bathroom is real life too, but no one wants to see you post about it! For me, my Instagram feed is composed of moments captured and turned into art. Hopefully I can get some discussion from it, too.

    But NONE of us have perfect lives. We all have the zits of life popping up and tearing us down. Why can't we cover them up and focus on something happy?

    waltzandwillow.com

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    1. Haha you're so right. "moments captured and turned into art" is a very good way to describe it! This is definitely the sort of narrative I'd love to support with my insta.... I need to work on it hahah. Thanks for reading, Elizabeth!

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  3. I 100% agree that Instagram is like a heavily photoshopped model but one must also have the knowledge that what they see on IG is NOT real life. Unfortunately that knowledge and confidence are lacking especially in the younger generations. I know many young ones are now feeling the pressure to live a 'picture perfect' life and get really depressed when they think their life is not like what they see on IG, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

    This is also another reason why I love InstaStories, it's more real and it allows users to be more candid and show the less than perfect (staged) side of their life.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

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    1. This is true. There are also definitely some ways in which instagram/ social media is harmful if we don't recognize that it's not completely true life. Thanks for your comment, Shireen!

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  4. I loved this post of yours so much, so beautifully written! I also totally agree with your point of view! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Love,

    Lucrezia ♥ (http://www.lucreziacandelori.com)

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  5. I loved reading every single word of this. What a thought provoking post!

    I feel like Instagram gets a lot of slack for being fake but (as someone who loves to have a pretty feed) I just consider it a way to document my best bits! Obviously I'm not going to take a picture of me eating 13p noodles because I'm a broke student, but I also wouldn't go broadcasting that to the world offline haha!

    Again, I loved this post and I feel like it's going to leave me thinking for a few hours. You also have a lovely way of writing!

    Bethany | Curly and Wordy

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    1. Aww thanks so much, Bethany! I'm glad it made you think. Social media is such a big part of our lives these days I was thinking about it a lot too. :)

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  6. Hi there! I'm a first timer to your blog and I really liked this article. I never realized how hard it was to manage an Instagram account until I opened my blog. I just went through a long hiatus on my social media because on some days I just didn't feel like finding pretty things to photograph, finding the perfect lighting, etc. It is a lot of hard work and all those persons that manage successful and lovely instagram accounts are my heroes, because I don't know how they do it. It takes hours!
    xx
    Ana
    Indie Suns | Bloglovin' | Instagram

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    1. It definitely is hard work! I think that's a big reason about why I slack on my instagram... I just don't have time (or don't make the time) to take photos that I'm proud of! I have so much respect for those who do. It's really impressive. Thanks for reading, Ana!

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  7. btw, I just started following you on bloglovin' so I don't miss a post! :)

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  8. I feel like my instagram is like my creative place, just like my blog. I enjoy curating it and making it look good the same way I enjoy drawing and decorating.
    Dora
    http://www.adropofindigo.com/

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    1. Totally! I think that's how a lot of bloggers feel. Thanks for reading, Dora :)

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  9. Great post, I honestly don't see Instagram as a reflection of my life I use it as a platform to share what I love. I don't want my friends and family to use that as a way to figure out what is going on with me. I use Twitter on a much more personal level, but for me Instagram is like an album of beautiful things and work that I am really proud of. Like a portfolio. Great, thought-provoking post xxx

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

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    1. That's very true, different social media platforms can be used in different ways. Thanks for reading!!

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  10. I think whatever you choose to make your social media- be it a super polished version of your life or a diary of the real gritty, messy moments, it's okay. It's yours!

    Great post, lady!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  11. Great points! I for one like using Instagram to strike up ideas and inspiration. When I look into someone's feed, I acknowledge for a fact that it's just a small portion (a crumb if I might say) of their lives. I guess, it's not bad to pick points that you'd like to highlight the same way as old school us and the people back then would only use good photos in their scrapbooks. But at the end of the day whether you have a streamlined, messy or themed feed depends on the person. :)

    annescribblesanddoodles.blogspot.com | Bloglovin' | Instagram

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    1. Totally true. And I definitely agree about drawing inspiration!

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  12. Great post! I totally agree with you that IG is a type of art form, but we have to also remember that not everyone uses it as the same purpose as bloggers, artist, photographers, etc might. And well like a lot of the other comments probably mentioned that there's still a lot of people out there that don't know this a lot of these photos are set up. I try to inform people but there's still a lot to cover I guess :/

    Stacey + thebambieyes.com

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    1. That's so true. I definitely a good idea to make little jokes in the comments like, "this took me an hour to shoot!" or something. Because you're right, sometimes we forget that not everyone is in the same 'blogging bubble' as us.
      Thanks for reading!

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  13. Awee I love reading this! I feel like the concept of Instagram has definitely changed drastically, as before, it used to be an "instant" way to share you photos. We both know now it's much more than that. I missed reading your little blog :) xx

    Kyia at WANDERLUSTGIRL// lifestyle & beauty
    Let’s be BLOGLOVIN friends!

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    1. Aw thank you so much Kia !! Just followed you on Bloglovin!

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  14. I love this post, even though I am obsessed with instagram I completely agree with everything you said! You have a really great blog here too, keep up your hard work gorgeous gal! x

    adelelydia.blogspot.com

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  15. This is so beautifully written, and so very engaging.
    I have to admit, I get quite frustrated when comments are made about 'fakeness' on social media. I wouldn't spill all of my problems, my thoughts, my dark moments, to my friends, sometimes, why would I photograph them?

    francesca | <a href="http://francescasophia.co.uk”>francescasophia.co.uk</a> xx

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    1. I definitely agree. This is a hard conversation because there are two sides that both make sense. But that's definitely valid and I totally agree with your point! Thanks for reading girl :)

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  16. What a lovely post, it made me think! xoxo

    Beatriz

    http://www.beatrizcarvajal.com/

    ReplyDelete

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I’m a 19-year old college student who’s still very much “in bluhm” (heh) but I’m figuring it out as I go, laptop in hand.
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