It is a truth universally recognized that having millions of Instagram followers is something a majority of us aspire to (although we all have that one friend who says they have a real life.)
A couple years ago, I took a trip to Ireland and it turned my Instagram grid quite green. For 2 weeks before this I was making a plan to take a picture of a clover with the Irish landscape in the background, poking my husband in the arm everyday to let him know my Instagram plan.
While taking said picture, (in the beautiful Glen of Aherlow) I first put the camera timer on, then spent five minutes trying to maneuver my Ipad on my elbow while poking the screen to get the clover in my other hand to focus. To passersby I probably looked like I was doing the robot; if I had a cup people would’ve dropped change in it for this entertaining show I was presenting. To be honest, I don’t even remember what the view looked like. I posted the picture with a grin like the Grinch, waiting for the likes to roll in.
Being on Instagram is like having your period: Things start out amazing when you post a picture of a perfectly placed cup of tea next to a magazine, a pair of ray bans and a candle, all with a filter that makes them look shabby chic. But, maybe you lose 3 followers, and wonder what you did wrong? What is your life becoming? Why don’t people like you?
At this point, I would proceed to binge eat 3 pizza baguettes and a carton of Ben and Jerrys. After this, a travel picture would probably pop up and that is when I would hop into bed, and fall asleep while watching re-runs of The O.C. (Why couldn’t Marissa and Ryan just figure their shit out?!)
What I really wonder is when the word “real life” took on a negative tone. We’ve all seen those hilarious memes while scrolling our Facebook feed: A beautiful dish of pasta with sun-dried tomatoes on top, a menu with swirly cursive lettering next to it, and a perfectly placed glass of white wine with “Instagram” above it.
Next to this is a picture of Ramen noodles with “Real Life” above it. Apparently real life means eating Ramen noodles every night (I don’t see why this is negative, I’m in love with Ramen noodles, but I never went to university, so I’m still able to look at them.)
These days, there is so much to keep track of. Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter (which I still have trouble wrapping my mind around), Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and probably a lot more that I have missed.
I have enough trouble keeping track of my real life let alone some virtual universe in which I’m supposed to constantly travel, smile, have perfect hair, wear an endless wardrobe, have airbrushed makeup, eat healthy yet stylish food, exercise like a #fitgirl, and drink cappucino with a heart shape in it. I love looking at these pictures that other people have put effort into, however taking them yourself requires a great deal of energy (and looking stupid in public while you stand on a chair to point your camera at your lunch. )
The last time I took a picture of a flat lay, I went on a rampage through my bedroom. I threw the blanket off the bed so I could use the white sheet for my background, and stared at the window waiting for the sun to come out to get the perfect lighting (I even did a sun dance, waving my hands around like I’m high at a music festival.)
I took apart my makeup box looking for lipstick that would match, and searched through my memory box for some cute post cards. Once everything was perfectly arranged I took about 100 photos that all looked exactly the same. I sat on my bed, in my old sweatpants, hair jacked up, sweating, out of breath, and hit post.
Sometimes I feel like I have the choice between being Kim Kardashian or Jane Austen. Do I want to concentrate on my writing even though most people just want to see pictures these days, or do I focus on posting pretty pictures and not really knowing what I’ll get out of it?
I’ve been so busy trying to emulate all these people who have thousands of followers that I’m starting to wonder who I am myself? Who do I actually want to be? I believe this is what the internet is missing these days; real life.
Genuine thoughts, feelings, emotions; those funny moments that take us by surprise, and make us feel like we have a life outside of an Ipad or a computer. How do we capture those moments without obsessively trying to perfect them for Instagram? I have yet to determine this; maybe balance is the key? Enjoying life without obsessing over the pictures is a good start.
Or maybe we need an Instagram page full of girls in sweatpants, eating pizza straight from the box and drinking wine from the bottle while yelling at episodes of The Bachelorette. Now, that is an account I would follow.