Prompt Images

When I was 21, I created my first Instagram account. I was late to the game, and had fallen under the social pressures of being more connected to what my friends and strangers were eating for breakfast, and wearing to dinner.

A week later, I deleted it and haven’t returned since. Why?

In that short time, my brain had re-wired itself. My daily thoughts included, ‘Should I post a photo of myself?’ and ‘Did I get a like?’

I lost a few hours of my life posing in front of my camera, or asking my friend to snap a pic of me, all the while feeling like an ugly, ingenuine piece of garbage when reviewing the pictures.

Then, my fixation moved on to objects, places, and other things.

“Should I take a picture of this? Does it need a filter? Do I need a filter? Is this good enough?”

My experience with Instagram was toxic from the start.

About a decade ago, Instagram was created for the purpose of sharing art. Photographers, illustrators, crafters, and painters alike. It was a simple, creative platform.

When I joined, that time had already passed. It was all about ass, envy-inducing vacation shots, showcasing the money you make, ass, ass, and more ass.

‘Look at me, look at my car, look at my life. It’s perfect.’

It’s not.

My self-esteem dropped that week as I compared myself to people that I now realize weren’t even real. Body warps, filters, blurring tools, even Photoshopping themselves onto fake backdrops. It blew me away when I realized how insane digital media can be, and how harmful it was to me in just seven days.

In the movie Pulp Fiction, the young french lover of character Butch says that she wants to have a big pot belly. She then goes on to say that what is often pleasing to the touch is not pleasing to the eye. That stuck with me.

Warped, elongated bodies versus freckles, dry skin, scars, and even pot bellies are a world away from each other on Instagram these days.

I’m happy with my body, and I’m happy with myself.

I may create an Instagram again one day, but the next time that I do, I will refer back to the words I’ve just written: I’m okay with being me.

Instagram is not always reality. It’s a facade, and an expression of our biggest insecurities a lot of the time. Posting to Instagram, in a way, is an expression of our most human desires. We all want to belong and fit in. I just wish there was a better way around it.

So, if you’re reading this… life is short, so please love yourself first.

This is a tempting and dangerous digital world that we live in now, and you are worthy of praise whether you post that picture or not.

Sydney Walters

Copywriter, fiction author and PR professional from D.C. who scribbles in answers on trivia night and shouts at her Playstation on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Sips hot tea or coffee from a Studio Ghibli mug. Paces while brainstorming. Conquers hot sauce.

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