This article was originally published on Style Collective on August 17th, 2017.
“I just can’t do it anymore,” my insta-friend Kate told me over DM. “I’m deleting my account.”
Those words left me stunned. In our hyper-connected world, Instagram is not only a source of creativity and style inspiration, but for many, a way to make a living. It’s imperative for businesses and brands to be active on social media, so the prospect of deleting it seems almost impossible. What struck me most, however, was her reason for deleting it. She admitted Instagram depressed her more than inspired her, and she struggled to cope with the pressure of constant online perfection.
I completely understand her rationale, because in fact, she was one of the accounts I followed that depressed me. Her posts were a blend between rooftop rosé sipping in South Beach and stylized shots asking, “Which bag should I use today: Gucci or Chanel?”
While I’ve never been the most confident person, Instagram has heightened my feelings of unworthiness. Seeing tanned bodies perched on swan floats and polka dot dresses frolicking around the Amalfi coast while I schlepped to work every day was beginning to have an impact on my mood and sense of self-worth.
Though I’ve been on many incredible vacations around the world, I found myself resentful that most of them took place before Instagram was invented. I wanted people to see that I’ve traveled, I’ve had amazing experiences too. But why was the validation from strangers so important to me?
I hit a breaking point when I found myself crying one night and when my boyfriend asked what was wrong I realized the ridiculousness of me saying… “Instagram.” I knew I had to do something. So aside from deleting Instagram, here are some ways that help me cope with the pressure to be insta-perfect.
Realize It’s Self-Imposed
Nobody ever told me my Instagram sucks. Nobody told me I needed to travel and have perfect blowouts every day and own a Gucci Marmont bag. While Pinterest and fashion outlets might suggest I do that, it’s important not to internalize it so much. Nobody expects anyone to live these over-the-top lives and, in fact, authenticity and a genuine approach to social media is often preferred. You’re not going to disappoint anyone, the only person truly pressuring you to be perfect is you.
Follow Accounts You Relate To
It’s okay to follow aspirational accounts but make sure you follow more real people than insta-famous influencers. Find people that post things you truly relate to or enjoy and that you can interact with in a sincere way. Also, puppies. Follow a lot of puppies.
I don’t have a fancy camera with a million lenses, nor do I have an endless string of designer handbags and clothes. Don’t feel like these are the only things worth capturing. Wander around different neighborhoods near you, find interesting shadows, pretty flowers, cool graffiti. Show off the dress you just got on sale or how to style a simple t-shirt. People appreciate these little things.
It’s okay to take a break from social media! In fact, I think it’s crucial to our mental health. After my insta-breakdown I stayed away for two days. Not a long time, but it was amazing how much it cleared my mind and made me put things into perspective.
Everybody feels varying degrees of pressure from social media and it’s okay to recognize that and seek ways to overcome it. Being a member of a group like Style Collective and finding other likeminded people to have meaningful conversations with reminds you that you’re not alone. And remember—repeat this motto whenever you are scrolling—a person’s well-edited, impeccably curated Instagram feed is not an accurate representation of their happiness.
What ways do you feel social media pressure and what helps you stay sane with this struggle?