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.