Slide, scroll, rest, repeat.
This morning I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed. I check the time of my phone. I enter my passcode. I click on Instagram.
Slide, scroll, double tap. Slide, scroll, double tap.
Some mornings Most mornings I’ve scrolled through Instagram and Facebook before I turn to kiss my boyfriend.
My morning routine is not unusual in this day and age. Our phones connect us to the outside world. Most of us have smart technology. Most of us have Facebook. These social media platforms are providing us with juicy insight into the lives of people we know and the people we wish we knew.
I scroll and I scroll and I scroll. If it looks nice, I’ll like it. If I know the person well, I’ll like it. I rarely comment but when I do it usually involves some choice emojis.
I follow a wide range of people. Celebrities, friend, acquaitances. There’s a common thread that binds them all together. The compulsion to share the highlights. The best photo, the best moment, the best angle. I am totally complicit in that process.
I post the photos I think look the best. I post about moments in my life that reflect who I am in the best possible way.
I chuck filters on my photos. I edit the brightness if the image is dark. I’ll sharpen the image if it’s blurry.
I am a selfie taker. Does that make me vain? Absolutely. I am comfortable with that fact. I try to keep my vanity on a tight leash. If I feel like it’s getting out of hand I’ll pull the leash in a bit more.
Social media, if we’re being honest, is a highlight reel hub. It’s where we can indulge our ideal selves and forget about our inhibitions and misgivings for a while. It’s where we can kind of pretend that we’ve got our shit together when really we’re just bumbling through life like the next person.
In the spirit of tightening the leash on my vanity, I want to show you some of the Instagram images before they were on Instagram.
We are a visual society. We like to look at pretty things. We want to replicate what is popular. More often than not we are herd animals rather than lone wolves. We like to follow the status quo. It makes us feel safe. It provides us with a sense of belonging.
It is therefore human nature to project the most ideal elements of ourselves. We want to be accepted and embraced; the more the better. We want to be liked and praised. That is natural and normal. Historically we needed social acceptance to survive. If you weren’t part of the tribe, you were on your own. You had to fend for yourself and isolation could mean death.
We have now developed to a stage where isolation no longer equals imminent death. We can function perfectly well on our own. We don’t need to hunt for our own food or build our own shelter. Yet we still harbour this fear of rejection and isolation. We still seek acceptance from the broader community.
The way of determining social acceptance these days is increasingly through social media. Which explains why our social media accounts tend to reflect our “best” selves.
It is completely okay for this to be the case. It’s human nature. But I feel the need to go beyond the highlight reel. To show you what the images you see actually looked like before they were interfered with. Just like you would put a disclaimer on a photoshopped image.
Social media is the new photoshop. The images we portray may be real in some sense but it’s certainly not the whole story.
What’s the real story behind this image?
This photo was taken on Christmas Day. We were all on holiday in Byron Bay. We took this bad boy with a selfie stick. We’re all smiling but I’m pretty sure we were all sick of eachother by this stage (my brother is perpetually sick of me so not much changed on that front).
This photo was taken after a professional had worked on my face for over 45 minutes. I’ve worn this much make up about five times in my whole life. I was wearing lipstick that tasted like chalk and I kept rubbing the contouring off my face by accident. By the time I got home to have a shower I looked like a crying panda.
The photo above is how I look about 1% of the time. The photo below is how I look 99% of the time.
It’s important to understand the role that social media plays in our lives. It’s important to understand that what we see is a warped version of the truth and sometimes isn’t the truth at all.
I, therefore, adopt a bullshit radar when I use social media. I consider the people behind the images. I look at my Instagram feed as I would look at reality television. It’s telling a real story but not the WHOLE story.
So next time you look at Kylie Jenner’s Instagram account, marvelling at her plump lips or her luxurious lifestyle remember that we’re not getting the whole truth.
She’s an 18 year old trying to navigate her life in the spotlight. She’s criticised thousands of times a day. She’s appreciated only for her looks and she’s constantly compared to her sisters. She’s hounded by creepy old men with cameras and she’s probably surrounded by people who tell her what she wants to hear. She’s surrounded by people who pretend they’re her friends then feed her secrets to the press. She may have millions of followers but what does that really mean?
We’re all just trying to navigate our lives as best we can through virtual and physical reality.
Slide, scroll, double tap.