How many times have you found yourself scrolling through Instagram and in the end thinking everyone around you has a more fabulous life than you? Guilty as charged. How many times have you said wow, how are they so cool? Guilty as charged. Heck maybe I posted a post and you thought that about me.
The truth when we look through the filter of social media, often through a filtered curated photo the true picture is distorted. Now I LOVE to share photos of the places I am privileged to travel, my pups, cat, and random projects I am working on. Sometimes a brand reaches out to work with me on a campaign and I get the product, item, or whatever in exchange for a couple posts and or written review. This is our modern culture.
The other night my husband picked out the movie ‘Ingrid Goes West’ one of those movies that are funny, sad, and at time scarily accurate in multiple scenes. Basically, a young woman with nearly no friends IRL (in real life if you don’t speak emoji and acronyms) loses her mom, becomes obsessed with another female on Instagram, crashes her wedding, ends up in a mental hospital, gets out finds a new obsession and with a bag full of money sets off to California to become “best friends” with his super popular Insta-star.
What comes next is a series of funny and cringe-worthy moments. While the movie is not going to win an Oscar anytime soon, anyone who has worked in the social media space will find it a bit close to home.
This theme was only reiterated today after finishing up a YouTube yoga session a video from Vice talking about #VanLife popped up as a suggested video. Showcasing this same phenomenon that is highlighted in the movie.
Often what we see online is a highly curated version of the truth.
One more thought on the whole #VanLife world. While I have several friends who have chosen to live in a van and live a modern nomadic life, a lot of the current #VanLife has gotten out of control. Seriously out of control.
If we take Instagram at face value you would think that many of these free-spirited van duelers float through life and seemingly make money out of thin air. In reality, some of those high-followers van lifers aren’t doing it fulltime.
Heck, I see it IRL. A friend and I recently had lunch and we talked about the subject of Instagram. She showed me one of those seemingly perfect Van Life Instagram feeds. The couple in idyllic and breathtakingly beautiful desert scenes of the couple living it up in the wilderness. The reality, their van had been parked for weeks across from my friend’s house without moving once.
The Instagram reality and real life didn’t match up. But posting pictures of your van parked for weeks doesn’t pull in sponsors.
Years ago a training partner sat me down and said, “Are you doing this because you want to or because you want to post about it?” Harsh. I cried when the conversation happened. But looking back on it eight years later. He was right.
It is such an easy trap to fall into. Being badass, being cool, looking like you are awesome. This goes beyond product placements in Instagram posts. Do you follow your favorite athlete on Instagram? Seeing them always in the gym, trail, or other location, always looking good. I do too.
This admiration for an athlete can be motivating, inspiring, and maybe make you work a little harder during your next workout. On the flip side, it can push you to try sometimes dangerous moves you are not ready for, overtrain, and sometimes even push to injury trying to emulate that athlete you follow online.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
We need to become more discerning about our social media consumption. Think about what drew you to follow that “insta-star” or professional athlete, actor, or whatever. Sometimes it’s nice to look at a beautiful photo from a professional photographer who you have never met, if it brings you joy, keep following.
However, if you find yourself following a bunch of people you don’t actually know IRL ask yourself why? If you find looking at their feed only brings jealousy and self-loathing, maybe unfollow them. Life is hard sometimes and we don’t need the perfectly filtered and curated Instagram feeds to remind us of that fact.
Instead, if you choose to use Instagram or other forms of social media, look to follow friends you see or wish to see IRL more. Maybe it’s a close friend who moved across the country and you want to see what they are up to, better yet give that person a call or message, plan a meetup. Cultivate the friendship IRL.
But don’t take my advice, do what makes you happy! If following someone with 1 Million followers makes you happy and enriches your day do it. We only live one life and guess what… you make the rules!