The very cynical will say that Instagram is just another way for the narcissists to boast about how much better their life is. Wow, what a great outlook. Good luck with that. Instead, why don’t we say that it’s a way for people to share their happiness and adventures. An outlet to add more beauty to the world.
Whether you use social media or not, we are active participants in the practice of signaling. It’s in the clothes we wear, the haircut we get, the purse we hold. Signals get crossed, people argue and sometimes you even win. Yay. Even with your subversive T-shirts and thrift store “I really don’t care” attitude there is no escape. The sooner you realize the game, the better you will be at playing it, trust. I figure, I might as well look good and have fun while doing it.
But then one must also ask yourself, are you really present and enjoying what’s right in front of you when you’re pulling out your cellphone? What about all of the times when we were younger and there was no “proof” of the good times. But then I remember that there was, it was just in a roll of film that you couldn’t expose to light and took a few days to process. We just bored people with albums back then, or those projectors that clicked after each picture. Perhaps we have come a long way after all. Now you have the option to scroll right on by.
It’s not that I disagree with the cynics completely. Photographs capture an instant in time, nothing of what came before and what will prevail after. I’m not saying that people are liars, just that they’re not displaying the back room action that’s also happening. For every happy image of a baby or toddler, tears and refusal to leave whatever fun event could have followed very soon thereafter. Those landscapes in Europe could come at the cost of being ripped off in the taxi on the way there. But the beauty of Instagram is that for that moment, it was all good. Nothing wrong with freeze-framing those little moments that add up to a good and textured life. We always want to pin down what is fleeting anyways. I say let them and feel free not to look.