Instagram and Envy: Let’s Talk About It

Spring is finally coming and I can totally see the light at the end of the winter tunnel. I am definitely ready for some warmer weather, and maybe, an aperol spritz on a patio?

As I have been more or less absent from the blog lately, I wanted to provide a quick recap on my end:

  • I’ve spent most of the winter busy and working on my law firm. We’ve been adding a lot of information to our website. If you want to check it out, I’d love your feedback!
  • I’ve very much been into jazz lately. I’m loving this playlist right now on Spotify.
  • I’ve also started doing “morning pages”. I heard about it through one of my favourite bloggers. It’s basically this: you write 3 pages, first thing in the morning. It’s kind of like a written form of meditation, but it supposedly helps stimulate creativity. Creativity is often underrated, but I think it’s one of the most important things to being successful. As a lawyer, creative solutions are so important. Also, as an entrepreneur, thinking outside the box can really help you grow your business. I’ve been doing my morning pages before breakfast and over a cup of coffee. It really helps to gather my thoughts and calm me down for the day. If you want to do morning pages, it can’t be on the computer guys. It has to be pen to paper. Let me know if you give it a try!

Right, now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about Instagram and Envy.

Full disclosure, I was originally going to write this post about identity, but I think I’ll save that for next time.

Today, I feel like talking about social media. As a lawyer, I am kind of fascinated with social media. I think a lot of people just kind of post, without really thinking about the impact of those posts. It’s kind of crazy if you think about it. The legal impact of posting on social media is so interesting to me (which is one of my practice areas is social media law).

But I don’t want to talk about the law at the moment.

What I want to talk about is the impact of posting on social media in… a social context.

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve reduced the amount of content I’ve been posting to Instagram. When I started the law firm, I was sort of wondering what to do with The Realness Factor. The truth is that I enjoy the writing aspect of this blog, but I started to get a little tired with posting on Instagram. I also started to wonder about the nature of the content I was posting and why.

Let me explain.

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We can pretty much all agree that Instagram tends to shows us the highlight reel of people’s lives, right? When we talk about the ‘fakeness’ of social media, and how a constant stream of perfect images are being shoved in our faces, I feel like we’re usually talking about Instagram. There have been actual studies demonstrating how scrolling through social media can make us depressed about our own lives. In my experience, more than any other platform, Instagram is the culprit. I’ve also heard some say that they had to unfollow people on Instagram simply because their posts them feel crappy about their own lives.

In light of all this, I started to think about the message I was sending with @therealnessfactor. I’m not trying to say that I have a perfect life, but I started to wonder if the images I was posting could make someone feel bad about their situation.

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Someone once told me that it makes sense for me to have a blog because my life is “Instagram-worthy”. I know whether someone’s life is “Instagram-worthy” can be pretty subjective, but I know I am really fortunate. I have travelled twice this year already, I’m always going for brunch or making a cocktail, I don’t have to be stuck in an office all day…

Could my life make someone envious? Or worse, could it make someone feel bad about themselves?

I can say that in my experience, Instagram has made me feel bad in the past. Sometimes, you just begin comparing your life to someone else’s and start to feel like “life isn’t fair”. How does that person get to travel so much? That person has nice clothes, or the perfect home, or dog or whatever.

You know, it’s kind of like falling down a rabbit hole of the-grass-is-always-greener.

So I had to ask myself- was I only posting my ‘highlight reel’ to Instagram? Was I only posting images that would make people jealous?

If I was, it definitely wasn’t conscious. I was just participating in Instagram the only way I knew how: by looking at what everyone else was doing and then posting a similar type of content. It’s not my favourite thing to admit, but I honestly didn’t really think about it much more than that.

In light of all this, I decided that I don’t want to make people feel like crap with my Instagram feed. Other people may post images of perfection, but I just don’t want to participate in that anymore and I want to be conscious of what I post and why. I know that whether an Instagram account makes you feel bad can be pretty subjective, and that I can’t control how people feel, but the truth is, my life really isn’t perfect and my Instagram doesn’t reflect that. My Instagram doesn’t reflect any of the problems I face.

Example: the trip to New York that I took in February was riddled with obstacles, from multiple delays and terrible weather to a full-blown airbnb nightmare that forced us to double our expenses and book last-minute hotels. We literally had to Uber to a new hotel in the middle of night, in the pouring rain. And what should have have been a 20 minute Uber took over an hour. Et cetera. The list of misfortunes from that weekend is long, haha.

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But I didn’t share any of that on Instagram. By looking at my feed, you might think I had a swoon-worthy Valentine’s Day weekend in the city that never sleeps.

Look, I’m not saying we should all use Instagram to share our misfortunes and complain about our lives.

I’m saying, let’s stop actively trying to cover up reality.

Still not sure what I’m talking about?

Okay, you know when you look through old family photos from the 90s, and everyone’s just kind floating around the buffet at a family dinner, looking pretty normal? Compare that to your Instagram feed and see if there is a discrepancy.

I don’t think everyone needs change the nature of their content, but I do think a good dose of reality is refreshing to see. Ask yourself what kind of image you want to project on Instagram. If you’re a fitness brand, I get that your images are super branded and look perfect.

That’s because it’s marketing.

Advertising works by sparking emotions in a viewer to sell a lifestyle, rather than a product or service. By sparking feelings of envy, the ad subliminally tells the viewer “Buy this and you will be just like the person in this ad”.

But you guys! Your Instagram doesn’t have to be a giant advertisement for your life. What are you even selling?

Here’s what I suggest:

Ask yourself what you want to spark in your followers.

Do you want to make them laugh or maybe contemplate the greater questions of the universe? Do you want to inspire them? If you want to inspire them, just remember that envy and inspiration are two different things. Posting a pic of your six-pack won’t necessarily inspire someone to get up and workout.

Maybe you don’t want to spark anything in particular and you just want to be yourself. That’s okay too.

In the end, you can do whatever your heart desires on Instagram. But I think we could all be a little more conscious about the purpose behind our posts.

What’s your opinion on all this? Would love to know what you think.

 

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