Social Silence

The lives we live in reality are much different than those we appear to live on Instagram

More stories from Hailey Novak

Social Silence

Instagram has forced our generation into an identity crisis.

Not only are we grappling simply with who we are as individuals in society, but now we’re managing a whole other identity entirely; our digital identity.

While Instagram seems like a harmless place to document memorable experiences with friends and drool-worthy meals we probably couldn’t afford in the first place, behind it all there’s a lot of misconception about the lives we appear to live.

After taking a step back from the seemingly innocent app, I’ve noticed just how ridiculous the idea of it is.

I think the fact that the first thing you’re prompted to do after selecting your photo is to edit it, is slightly concerning. It suggests the photo (and the people in it) are not good enough as is, and will be better with a few adjustments. (Just a filter, dimmer lighting, heavy cropping and some strategic color highlighting is all it needs).

If this reality wasn’t bad enough, we’ve somehow fooled ourselves into thinking other people’s photos don’t go through the same process.

We envy the seemingly perfect picture our friend posted of her looking dreamily off into the sunset while standing on the beach without once thinking about the context behind the photo.

For all we know, she forced her mom to take it 50 different times so she could get it just right and moments after she tripped face first into the sand.

Not so glamorous anymore, right? On the other hand, her mom probably captured a really adorable candid shot of her tripping that she’ll post with some caption about how she’s a klutz and receive 100 likes on later so who am I kidding.

Our immediate reaction to an Instagram scrolling binge is to indulge in self loathing as we let the envy of others and their experiences cloud our judgment.

We forget that other people’s digital identity is only composed of carefully selected snapshots of the moments they want us to see. It doesn’t tell us who they really are as a person or what the life they live looks like behind the filters.

While a picture supposedly says a thousand words, an Instagram post twists those words into something that may be very inaccurate.

Just because we pose next to our boyfriend with a smile plastered on our face doesn’t mean our relationship is perfect. But that’s essentially what we convey to our audience by carefully selecting that photo specifically.

A study done by students from Utah Valley University titled, “They Are Happier and Having Better Lives than I Am: The Impact of Using Facebook on Perceptions of Others’ Lives” shows how people use social media sites to manage others impressions of them, ultimately causing us to look at others based off how they present themselves on Facebook.

If a girl you know always posts glamorous photos of her traveling the world it’s likely that you’re going to put her on a pedestal as the fabulous world traveling diva because this is the one aspect of her life you’re continually exposed to.

These findings relate to Instagram as well because the Facebook study focused directly on photos.

This being said, I don’t think it’s crazy to speculate that many of us lead very different lives in person than we appear to on Instagram. If there’s any aspect of our generation that could be classified as sad, I think this is it.

We’re more concerned with our digital identity than we are actually enjoying our experiences because we’re too busy trying to capture them in a way that will enhance our social media presence.

If you find yourself disagreeing, take a look at the article by Michael Zhang titled, “This is How People Lie About Their Lives on Instagram” where he illustrates how deceiving Instagram can be.

At the end of the day, your family and friends are going to love you regardless of how you appear on Instagram.

We could all benefit from taking a break from the constant editing to just enjoy our lives as they are rather than how we want them to look to everyone else.