Instagram, you wonderful, monstrous being, you.
Y’see, Instagram is the epitome of a love-hate relationship. We love it because it provides us with life inspiration – whether we’re looking for interior ideas or ways to jazz up our wardrobes for spring. We love it because it provides insights into other people’s lives without having to sit through an 18 minute vlog or a 1,000 word blog post. But mostly, we love it because we love that little fuzzy feeling somewhere warm inside when we see our following grow, or a photo we’ve just uploaded do spectacularly well. We love those teeny tiny positive affirmations.
But we hate it too because it feeds a horrible gargoyle that lives in our soul. It feeds our jealousy and our envy, and makes us feel like maybe, just maybe, we’re not good enough. It makes us compare ourselves to strangers, it makes us question ourselves, and it makes us wonder what other people have got that we don’t.
If only we were skinnier or prettier. If only we were born into wealthy families with the right connections. If only we were ruthless enough to not feel guilt for trampling on other people. If only, if only.
Because the lives we see on Instagram – the holidays and the designer bags and the parties and the dinners – well, for some reason we seem fascinated with this idea that those lives are better than our own.
That if only we had those lives, we’d be happier.
We are obsessed with the idea that to have more, is to have a better life. But really, is that even true?
When I think about my happiest moments I think of laughing with friends, of hosting my family, of drinking wine round the dinner table. I mean sure, I think of the awesome hikes I did on Trek America and the week Chris and I spent in New York – completely broke but living for donuts. But for the most part, I think of the life I live away from the internet. I think of the opportunities that come my way not because of my blog or my Instagram, but because of my relationship and friendships.
I guess I think of the simple things.
Unless you staked out the entire Easter bank holiday weekend in a chocolate coated cave with Netflix and pizza (and if you did, can you take me there plz?), you’ll have seen Twitter blow up quite spectacularly over what will *probs* forevermore be known as BOT GATE.
And, in case you missed it – I’ll give you a super speedy re-cap.
Bots are basically something you can buy on Instagram (and Twitter and YT and anywhere that uses followers) which will like and comment on other people’s images for you. It makes your account look engaged, even when you’re just spread out on the sofa watching Silent Witness.
But more than that, bots can follow and unfollow accounts for you. So you follow an account and hope that they’ll follow you back and then unfollow them the next day. It’s a quick way to gain followers. And I’ve seen people use bots that follow/unfollow up to 1,000 people a day. You can do it on a big scale without having to put in the effort yourself.
The issue is, now there are websites that can catch you out. Free websites that anyone can use that will show not only how many new followers someone goes up (or down) per day, but how many people that person is following or unfollowing in a day.
And so was BOT GATE. A weekend when bloggers and non bloggers up and down the country were sat in their pyjamas polishing off a Creme Egg whilst running the names of their fave bloggers (plus anyone else they’ve also suspected of being a bit dodge) through said websites.
And blogger Whatsapp groups went crazy. People were shocked. People were upset. People felt like they had been championing the wrong people.
And then the naming and shaming on Twitter started.
And then everyone and the fleas on their cats backs had an opinion on whether that was the right or wrong thing to do.
And then there were the other people who were like BUT WHY DO YOU EVEN CARE? WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO YOU?
I’ll tell you why it matters to people. It matters because we like to see the mighty fall. Heck, we maybe even enjoy it. Us millennials grew up in a world where we couldn’t help but compare ourselves to everyone around us – because that’s the reality of social media.
And to find out that the very curated image of someone we’ve been comparing ourselves to for the past week, month, year – well that that curated image isn’t real, means everything.
It means that maybe we’re not as shit as we let ourselves believe. That maybe the very people we think OMG WHY CAN’T I BE MORE LIKE THEM about aren’t perfect, well it helps us in some god awful twisted way.
It helps us like ourselves a bit more.
And yeah sure, the whole thing’s unfair as hell. It’s unfair that people who buy their way to 100k followers get more free holidays and free clothes than you. But really, are they happier than you?
We need to get over this idea that follower numbers equal happiness. Would I like to reach 100k on Instagram? Sure thing I would. But do I think it will enrich the quality of my life in anyway? Absolutely not.
When I think of the things I want for myself in the future, I think of family and friends. I think of people who matter. I think of creating memories with them. I think of Molly Weasley and not of the ‘grammers jet-setting around the world.
I think of a life I could have whether I had Instagram installed on my phone or not.
Because sometimes I think we need to step back and remember it’s just an app, and life is so, so much more than that.