How many hours per day do you spend scrolling through your social media feeds? In particular, how many hours do you spend on Instagram? Have you ever struggled with Instagram envy?
Humans are visual beasts, and the photography element of Instagram means it’s the ideal way to waste a few hours on the commute to work, during your lunch break, or when you’re chilling on the sofa, trying to figure out which Netflix show to binge on next.
Now, I’m a big fan of social media. I’m on it far more than I should be, but it has an extremely dark side too. In many ways, I wish I could quit my social media habit and I would probably would be a lot happier for it.
[Read: Social media and relationships – The good, the bad and the ugly]
Of course, life would also be quite boring without social media. What would I do with my time if I couldn’t check out other people’s vacation snaps or catch up on what everyone else is doing?
I know, I know, there were days before social media. Come on, we’re all hooked, right?
The problems begin when you lose sight of what is real and what is fake. Let’s be honest, social media is packed with fakery, dressed up to be something real. Instagram is perhaps the worst culprit and can easily lead you towards Instagram envy. [Read: How to be cultured in an age obsessed with social media]
Why Instagram envy leads to comparing yourself to others
One of the most unhealthy things you can do with your time is sit there comparing yourself with other people. There is no other you, there is no other anyone else either. We’re all unique and wonderful in our own ways.
If you sit there, trying to measure up to someone else, you’ll always end up picking fault with yourself. Surely it’s better to spend your time figuring out your strong points and working to maximize them!
It’s better, but it’s something most of us don’t do, myself included.
[Read: The 14-step guide to how to live a life you’ll love and cherish]
Instead, we scroll through our feeds wishing that we were *insert/delete as applicable* as beautiful or handsome as them, as famous as them, as talented as them, as fit as them, as photogenic as them. The list goes on and on.
This easily leads towards feelings of resentment and self-loathing. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Instagram envy is a very real thing and something which can lead towards very negative roads.
Let’s realize the truth behind the facade of social media. We all vaguely know this to be true, but we spend too much time believing what we see too. As I said before, humans are visual beasts.
[Read: How to unfake your life and love being you]
The truth of the social media facade
Let’s imagine that you’re sitting there and you come across a picture of your friend and her boyfriend on their latest Caribbean vacation. They’re sitting on a white sand beach, the sun setting behind them. They’re both tanned and looking relaxed, chilled out, and totally in love. And they’re cuddling each other and a picture postcard of coupled-up happiness.
What are you doing?
You’re probably there in your work clothes, or perhaps even your pajamas, on a rainy Monday morning. You wonder how you’re going to get through the day without IV mainlining coffee to keep you awake. Looking out of the window, all you see is grey drizzle, and there isn’t the slightest hint of Caribbean about the scene before you.
What do you feel?
You feel Instagram envy, that’s what.
You’re basically feeling that you wish you had their life. But, you don’t know the truth behind that picture. Firstly, it’s been filtered for sure. Secondly, they probably had an argument just before the picture was taken, because your friend insisted on taking it several times to get it right. The argument spiraled and they ended screaming at each other. Your friend then had to add more filters to try and reduce her puffy eyes. Then they spent the rest of the night not speaking to one another.
You wouldn’t have got all of that from the original photo, would you?
[Read: How to find meaning in life when you feel lost]
As a result, you’re left with Instagram envy because you wish you were on a beach, enjoying the sunset, and you wish you were coupled up and happy. You don’t for a second imagine that there could be an alternative story, because you simply believe what you see before you.
You then spend the rest of the day in a further haze of Instagram envy, unpicking every aspect of your life and becoming even more annoyed at the fact your life isn’t as wonderful as your friend’s looked on her photo.
You’re wishing for something that isn’t real. [Read: How to be comfortable with yourself and stop giving a f*uck about everything else]
How to avoid Instagram envy
So, how can you avoid Instagram envy becoming a real part of your life? It’s hard. But realize that what you see on social media is rarely totally real. Even the adverts you see have been airbrushed and rechecked to within an inch of their lives. The things that your favorite celebs and influencers are recommending to you are simply there because they’re getting paid to make an advert.
It’s all fake. Remember this if you want to do your best to avoid Instagram envy and live a life free of comparisons between you and other people.
Consider reducing the amount of time you spend on social media if this is becoming a major issue for you. If you’re regularly suffering from feelings of jealousy when you’re scrolling through your social media feeds, you’re suffering from Instagram envy for sure. In fact, you might even have a case of Facebook envy on top!
In that case, detox your life of social media for a week or so. Then see how you feel. After that, keep it to a minimum and watch how you feel. If you notice any elements of envy creeping back in, cut back once more.
[Read: How to do a social media detox and feel better about your life]
How to be realistic with social media
It’s totally unrealistic to expect you to cut social media out of your life completely. I couldn’t do it either! Give yourself a mantra. When you feel Instagram envy bubbling up, tell yourself that what you’re seeing probably isn’t what it seems.
It’s impossible to live up to a fake image, and there’s really no point in trying. Instead, focus your time on filling your own feed up with wonderful experiences and memories, but make sure that they’re genuine and that they’re not overly-filtered or faked. I’m not expecting you never to try that funky new filter that’s been released, or always falling back on the one which makes your skin look flawless. Keep it to a minimum at least!
Should you avoid those feeds which always make you feel a little jealous? Not at all. In many ways, it’s not their fault, but yours. If you’re always feeling jealous of whatever they post, ask yourself why. What are you missing? Is there something you wish you could do that they’re always doing? In that case, head out there and make your own version if it. Simply make sure that you do it for you and not to copy or emulate them.
[Read: The dangers of social media and why it makes you feel insecure]
Instagram envy can easily lead towards comparisons and negative connotations. Understand social media is nothing more than a smokescreen. This mindset will keep everything realistic and focused.
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