May 18 2020 – Matt Rogan
Instagram Envy is now a modern day pandemic in itself. We travel, eat and sleep next to our phones in case of an urgent notification. We gorge on bitesize updates on other people’s lives – regardless of whether we’re still in close contact with them or not. We constantly present a perfected version of ourselves online, only to feel worse offline.
We’ve all been there. When a friend’s celebratory announcement elicits a surprisingly bittersweet reaction or a stranger’s live late-night adventure triggers a FOMO-induced meltdown. These fallacious feelings usually come from a place of insecurity.
Instagram’s prime feature is sharing photographs rather than paragraphs. Though it has become a socially acceptable form of surveillance, we have become numb to its constant stream of superficiality. There can be a disconnect between what we see in person and what we see online. Nowadays, maintaining a healthy follower to following ratio has become a valuable and vied over asset. We measure the success of our peers though an illusory point system that unfavourably punishes us and rewards others.
In the lonely and suffocating conditions we currently find ourselves, social media has become an inescapable companion. At the moment, human communication is in the balance of our collective WiFi connection. Screentime is on the rise because the nibbling appeal to know what’s happening on the outside world tempts and taunts us 24 hours a day. Even our time in quarantine has become a competition to see who can be the most productive. Now that summer bodies and exotic holiday tags have become obsolete, rivalries now depend on our activities at home.
There can be a disconnect between what we see in person and what we see online.
Since mutual online rapport is now a necessity for a thriving friendship, we have become cautious in allowing access to our online alter-egos. Introducing a new friend to your social media accounts is now considered amongst the highest of commitments. Where a face-to-face connection has the benefit of being palpably established, a virtual conversation can run the risk of mistranslation. Admittedly, I’ve nearly regretted adding a friend that willingly used the HUJI filter in 2020. Yet on the other hand, I’ve also been ridiculed for posting a picture at breakfast when supposedly higher engagement rates happen during the early evening. What was once a creative outlet has turned into a forum for theatrics. Society has created a set of stringent outlines; from having too many selfies or having too little, having no consistent aesthetic or trying too hard to emulate one. There is now a right and wrong way to post a picture – even for a basic sunset.
The first step to curing a bout of Instagram Envy is to ground yourself. By normalising these pangs of jealousy, you discover its powerlessness in its shared struggle. Envy is an irrational, insular but above all human emotion. A deflated self-esteem is usually a product of unreasonable comparison. With Instagram Envy, it is yourself and the airbrushed avatar you get to see rather than the equally flawed human you don’t. Since comparison can lead to competition, always remember the context of the content. Occasionally, jealousy is only blinding you from your own admiration.
Once you have rationalised your feelings, you should then take time to reflect on your toxic relationship with social media and what actions can be done to mend it. It has been proven that short but frequent scrolling sessions, known as passive consumption, are when we are most subconsciously absorbent. This is important when we consider how Instagram’s algorithm prioritises the content that you interact with most. Whether that be through likes, messages or a guilty stalk, the accounts you gravitate towards will naturally reappear more on your feed. Essentially then, we are our own saboteurs. We are more likely to see and remember the accounts that have a detrimental effect on our mental wellbeing. This can be solved by reducing your online activity or removing the accounts that contribute to your Instagram Envy.
However, if you’re looking for a long-lasting antidote, you’re going to have to reassess your whole response mentality. Ultimately, neither broadcasting every detail of your life or shaming the people that do will boost your own self-esteem. If you’re genuinely secure in yourself, proof isn’t necessary. The secret to not caring about others opinions, is to always value yours more. The fact is, no post or person is completely #unfiltered. People only advertise their fondest memories or greatest achievements and that can distort your own sense of placement in the world. The need for validation is universal, but that doesn’t justify an excuse to pander for the sake of receiving it.
Remember to always be mindful of these natural, yet teachable moments. Remind yourself that you should always feel content with yourcontent, but above all, make sure you follow and subscribe to @keiseimgz on Instagram.