Last night, I couldn’t get to sleep easily. So, I ended up doing what I typically do, which is the opposite of helpful. I watched a few TED talks, read the news online, and of course, scrolled through Instagram. It got me thinking about the lives that we all put on display for our social media followers. We have this blanket of technology to shield us from having to share everything and divulge the secret parts of life that we’d rather not have anyone know about us. Everyone is guilty of this- hiding the less than popular feelings and attributes of our mental and physical being. I haven’t yet met someone who openly posts everything about their lives, including their less than beautiful pictures and monotonous daily adventures unless they are #sick and want some #sympathy. Even when someone does post a picture without editing it, there is an expected inherent reward they demand by using the hashtag, “nofilter”. It’s as if taking photos without placing an overlay on it is a novel talent rather than the way photos were actually invented to be. Mostly, when people take selfies with that hashtag, it’s supposed to serve as evidence that they are really beautiful, it’s not just Instagram making them look that way.
The filters of this app and many other social media tools is a microcosm of the entire basis of social media- it’s all a facade. In my hours of insomnia, I re-imagined an app that would be like Instagram, but without the filters, in every sense of the word. If you wanted to use it, it’d be to document life like a journal, so people would know both the good and the bad. It’d be life as you saw and experienced it, not life with a X-Pro filter on top. But, would people really be interested in doing that if it didn’t warrant as much popularity? If they had to post themselves going to get their flat tire fixed when it blew out on the freeway the same way that they posted meeting a celebrity at a club? Probably not, because then everyone would realize that we all go through the same ups and downs, at varying degrees.
Realistically, people don’t like sharing or posting the regular or below average parts of life because it messes up the image that everything is perfect; the image we create on our social profiles that our lives are better than the people’s lives who are following us. Sometimes, it’s not even to be put on display for others, but rather for ourselves. We create our lives in social media the way we want to remember them, by ignoring anything that isn’t favorable. If this real-life Instagram did exist, what would your feed look like? Who would you really be- unfiltered selfies and all? I think that kind of digital journal could be used to reflect on the changes we’d like to make for ourselves to improve the lives we live, so that the display is always pure and unfiltered.
Until then, I’ll stick to writing about my lows and posting filtered pictures of my highs.