Every picture on Instagram tells a story about life. Or does it?
Recently, we were on a family ski vacation in Park City, Utah. It was gorgeous, and especially so to us because we live in Florida sans snow, mountains, and views of anything but water.
Being an early bird who relishes quiet morning moments with God and coffee, I was enjoying our pristine panoramic view by a roaring fire when two sleepy beauties approached with their coffee and plopped themselves onto the hearth. Inspired by the winter coziness, they decided to capture the “insta” moment.
“Mom, will you take a picture of us?”
The quiet was shattered. I took the phone in my hand as they positioned themselves. I snapped four pictures, submitted them for approval and waited. Approval was denied. They readjusted positions, coffee in hands. I took four more. Again approval denied. More adjustments, more pictures.
Finally, I said, “Girls, you were inspired by the coziness of the moment but in your desire to capture the moment for Instagram, you have lost it. This is a posed moment. And it has stolen the real one you so enjoyed.”
The “Insta-life” is what I call a life lived for the picture to post. There are three truths we need to learn about the Insta-life:
The Insta-life is filtered.
I think it hit the girls that what they see on social media isn’t real life either. The Insta-life is filtered — even when the hashtag is #nofilter.
A friend of mine got an email from her sister-in-law who was back in her rural hometown visiting family. “This place is so boring!” her sister-in-law wrote. “I am so glad I got out of here.”
The very next day my friend saw an Instagram post from that same sister-in-law featuring her darling little daughter in a lush forest, petting a fawn. “Back to nature, #thegoodlife.”
What we see on social media is curated — it’s staged and selected with a purpose. Even if the person posting doesn’t mean to deceive, what they’re sharing isn’t always real.
The Insta-life leads to comparison.
Another friend’s teenage daughter was having a great weekend until she looked at her Snapchat account. “Mom,” she said. “Emma and Grace and Mia are all hanging out today, and I had texted Emma but she didn’t text me back.”
If you’re going to check your social media accounts, brace yourself. You might see friends getting together without you. You might see coworkers taking trips you wish you could afford. Or you might see other moms whose kids are making the honor roll or soccer team.
If you can truly be happy for those people and you don’t start comparing yourself to them, great. But remember, you are only seeing the highlights. Don’t compare your life to something that’s being filtered.
And, regarding your children — limit the amount of time you let them spend on social media. Why? Every time they look at an image they might be thinking, “Am I that pretty? My life is so boring compared to hers.”
The Insta-life can steal real life.
It’s not easy to scoop up your baby and smother her face with kisses when you’re trying to take a selfie of it to capture the moment with your phone. In fact, when you try to capture a moment you often lose the moment. You’re an observer, not a participant.
This may sound crazy and it might be really hard but try to go a whole day without taking a photo of your kids or your day and posting it — photos, status updates, anything. Then try to go three days without looking at everyone else’s posts. Then ask yourself: did you enjoy your moments more? Did you really miss seeing everyone else’s posts, or did you feel better not comparing?
Just be! Be in the moment for you, not for others to see you.