I saw my new best friend yesterday. She has a lovely home and a delicious new baby and I while I visited, I got to see her new bathroom fixtures and her amazing new smart TV. The baby's nursery has been finished, too.
The only problem is, my new best friend doesn't even know I exist. You see... she lives on Instagram.
Do you ever feel you know too much about strangers? Who knows, maybe you feel you know too much about me if you follow my blog or my Instagram profile.
Instagram can be a nice way to learn how other people live. Since I'm a crafter, I especially enjoy seeing what other women are knitting. Some of their knits are gorgeous, and I aspire to that. But what about the people who have massive followings and seemingly flawless lives? The outfits, the sunny family portraits among the colorful fallen leaves, the boots of your dreams, the baby number two announcements with the adorable handmade signs. Should we aspire to be like them? And how much of what we're seeing is even real, anyway?
I know that after an extended session with Instagram, I'm always edgy.
And every time — somehow — my hall carpeting looks really dreadful to me even though it's not that old. I start to wonder how much hardwood would cost, and if I can afford it.
There was one time I bought a great new knockoff handbag that I loved... until I saw the real deal on my Insta feed the next day. You know the bag I'm talking about — the one that cost the same as your parents' first house. It left me with a vague agitation and dissatisfaction with my life, that's actually a perfectly wonderful one.
Could I be jealous? Maybe a little. But I'm amused, too. Because I know that underneath that veneer there are in-law problems and dirty diapers and someone who has to get out of the photo frame to pick up fried chicken for supper; they can't possibly have time to cook too. But mostly, I'm sad. Sad for the followers like me who look at their own lives and think they must be pathetic. It's like a car-wreck that we can't turn away from. So, we tune in every day — day in and day out — for more of "look how great my life is!"
Once I started ruminating about my "insta-friends" when my phone wasn't even in my hand or rushed through my nighttime routine to see what my new best friends were doing, I knew I was in trouble. But I also knew quitting the app cold turkey just wouldn't work for me - there is still a lot of good stuff on Instagram. And with my FOMO (fear of missing out), I couldn't completely live without it.
So, I set Instagram sessions and time limits.
I told myself I could only view Instagram once a day — usually before bedtime, and only for fifteen minutes. It's like going on a diet; you still have to eat. But I did go cold turkey with my so-called best friends. If they didn't post anything that day, I wouldn't go searching for them like a stalker. If they showed up in my feed, that was different. But I would only view their current posting and move on. No more stalking.
Recently, I unfollowed of some truly vapid profiles.
It seemed the more "groupies" they accumulated, the more staged their lives became. I'm not sure if its the sponsorships that allowed for designer clothes, or if they simply believed that they were super-important to their followers.
And what happened with this new regime was surprising. I got happier. I stopped making comparisons. I wasn't jealous, and I began to focus on my own life again.
I think Instagram has a place in our lives, if you're so moved to join. Besides the knitted garments, I made a scrumptious cheese tart I saw online, bought some awesome storage bins that were posted on my feed, and found the perfect neutral nail color last summer. I've learned a new thing or two. But I'm done making "insta-friends" too important to me. Once I started thinking about them when my phone wasn't even in my hand, I knew I was in trouble. And I won't be mistaking them for the real pals who come over for tea on winter afternoons when I have a cold and need company. I know my insta-friends belong right inside my cell phone, where I can click "unfollow" anytime I want.