Why Instagram is Changing Reality’s Perception

Have you ever experienced that thing where your thoughts gnaw at you over and over again?  My Mom calls it ruminating. I do it a lot, so I’m sure you’ll see me talk about it in other blog posts. Today I’m ruminating on social media, so that’s what I want to talk about.


To give you some background, I have been diagnosed with depression. I take medication for it, and while I need to go back to therapy because it’s very helpful for me, I haven’t yet because I tend to put others’ needs in front of my own and just haven’t had the time (but that’s a topic for another post). Also, maybe there’s someone else out there that is experiencing all these same things, and this will make you feel more comfortable to hear that it’s happening to me too!

Let me start by saying, I’m not “social media famous” by any means. However, Instagram and Twitter have become things I seem to base a lot of worth on. Since beginning to use both these platforms, I’ve gained more followers than I ever anticipated cared to read my 180 character thoughts or see my goofy pictures with friends. I didn’t always care quite so much how my likes and such were turning out.

When I started using Instagram, it wasn’t like it was today; people posted memes or pictures of their dinners with filters that were way too heavy, and all the app did was offer another way to share your pictures. If you have an Instagram account, you know that’s very different than the Instagram of today – people only post the pictures they deem best, and heaven forbid a photo looks TOO filtered.  I blame part of this on the rise of smartphones, and the improving smartphone cameras that continue to come out. However, it’s not just that; there’s so much pressure to look good on social media today that lots of girls I know will only post photos that are taken by a good quality camera, and try to keep an Instagram “aesthetic.”

Likes are so much more important; you have to post at the right time and use the right picture if you want to get likes. But what if you don’t? What really happens? No one notices, or cares. Except for you, because it feels like you can only be cool or attractive or well-liked if you’re getting the validation from those double taps on your pictures.

I guess I’ve just noticed that I put too much worth on my social media likes.  I’ll scroll through Instagram, see a girl’s picture, click on her profile and then spend 30 minutes stalking her and thinking “why don’t I look like that?” It’s not good, it’s not healthy, but unfortunately I do think it’s somewhat normal; maybe others don’t go all the way to the profile and get quite as in-depth, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find a girl or young woman who HASN’T scrolled through Instagram, seen a picture of another girl, and compared themselves to the person in that photo.

What I want to convey here is that lots of people experience this, but you have to remember that social media isn’t real.  I will pick apart photos and get multiple opinions on filters and captions before posting a photo at what I deem the right time to get the maximum number of likes. I know other people do this, because I have friends who do it too. But think about how many photos you take and the work that goes into that one perfect photo you post online; everyone else is doing the same things. Think about all the times you’ve seen a photo and compared yourself to the subject; lots of people do that with your photos too. I know people who have posted sweet things about their significant other that made me jealous, only to find out later that they’ve broken up because the relationship wasn’t going that well.

I heard a saying once, “comparing yourselves to others is like comparing your behind-the-scenes to their highlight reel.” Since I spent the morning ruminating on social media and how I’m appearing to other people and if it’s good enough, I think that’s something I’ll try to keep in mind today.

Have you ever struggled with self-image because of social media, or felt like you couldn’t live up to an ideal because of what you saw online? Let us know in the comments below if you feel comfortable sharing!

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