Stacey Loscalzo

Dec 17

Instagram Envy

by Stacey

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Caroline has been asking for a phone for as long as I can remember. And for Instagram for about a year now. We are holding firm for a bit longer and this weekend, a New York Times article gave me a bit of back-up. The cover story in my favorite Sunday Styles section was The Agony of Instagram by Alex Williams. The article sites example after example of super successful and creative people who feel great about their lives until they check their Instagram feeds. I love the phrase Williams uses when he says that users “feel suffocated by fabulousness.”

We have all been here both with Instagram and Facebook. Recently, for example, I jokingly asked a friend to please just once post pictures of her children arguing instead of having an amazing time with their huge family surrounded by well, ‘fabulousness.’ In truth, though, I don’t know anyone who posts anything other than this ‘fabulousness’. Who, after all, likes calling attention to the drab, to the boring, to the less than perfect?

After reading The Agony of Instagram, I looked back on my own Instagram feed which I thought might not be all that fabulous. We don’t after all, eat at five star restaurants or take exotic vacations. But… my feed in a similar way does not tell the whole story.

By way of example…

The picture of the NYC skyline that I could see while taking a walk with a friend? Lovely picture. Amazing view. True. But after the walk through a very hilly part of our town, my shins were so sore that I couldn’t work out for days. I did not post any pictures of that.

The picture of Katherine at Wicked? So perfect. And such an amazing day in the city. Except all that is the story of what happened after the epic temper tantrum caused by too little food and too much noise. No pictures of that either.

A beautiful picture of our first accumulating snow? True. But I also had to cancel plans that I was really looking forward to because the roads were sort of sketchy. I didn’t post any pictures of me crossing fun things off my calendar.

And the adorable cat snuggled with Katherine? He’s cute. But he’s also nuts and loosing bladder control. We have thrown away at least four pillows in the last few months seeing as he prefers to pee on pillows these days. I chose not to create a collage of the pillows we have lost to feline urine.

So there you have it. With all the fabulousness comes some things that are slightly less than. I choose to believe that there are stories behind nearly all the pictures that we see on social media.

Anyone else want to share?

14 Comments

  1. It’s just like anything else — seems like I hear this complaint more about Pinterest than anything else, that it makes people feel unworthy, like slackers, etc.  I have felt that way at times, until I realized what I was doing to myself and edited who I was following to only get things that made me feel positive.  (I’ve done the same thing re: who I’m friends with on facebook.)  But I guess that takes a certain amount of maturity — I’m still working on it — that a teenager might not have yet.

    • Stacey says:

      Sarah- I totally agree. I love all these platforms and do feel inspired by the beauty I seem. I suppose a lot of my worry comes as a mom on this one… 

  2. Lindsey says:

    Yes. Such truth. Also, Grace has been desperately wanting Instagram (she doesn’t have a phone but has an ipod touch) and I won’t let her because the legal rules say 13 … am sticking with that for now. I don’t think there’s much perfection in my Instagram feed, but there’s certainly stuff I don’t show. Like the two tear-stained faces of two children the other day when I told them how utterly disappointed I am in their endless bickering and told them I was clearly a bad, bad mother because they could NOT stop fighting. Or the pouting 11 year old who shows up practically hourly at my house. I could go on!

    • Stacey says:

      Ugh! We have the same exact thing going on in our house right now. The girls are not exactly being loving sisters at the moment! Perhaps they will all get a little bit of kindness for Christmas!

  3. Shana Norris says:

    Everything seems a little different when you think about the context and what happens behind the scenes, huh?  I can get discouraged by what I see as “perfection” in the lives of others, too.

    • Stacey says:

      The behind the scenes piece really is what’s missing, isn’t it? When you stop to think about it, it’s obvious that all these people are not living perfect lives but it is easy to get lulled in to the belief that they are after so many beautiful pictures!

  4. Tamara says:

    I’ll share! In Instagram and in general, I don’t post bad photos because I’m a photographer and I don’t want people to know that of course I have bad ones too. Of course!
    Anyway, I posted a lovely photo of my son reaching for the ceiling last week. I didn’t post the 17 blurry ones it took to get that one!

    • Stacey says:

      It is interesting to hear a photographer’s perspective on this. You are so right that many, many shots go in to capturing all the perfection. 

  5. Kim says:

    I don’t Instagram, but do blog and use FB and Twitter, and those have the same pitfalls, I guess. You know, for me, we are all on a journey, we share the bits that we want to remember, that make us happy, and that family and friends might want to see. I love sharing in the good bits of peoples lives, but I know, just like my own life, there are the not so nice bits either. The struggle to pay bills, the kids that aren’t always in a good mood, the parents who may not be in a good mood either, a home that needs to be cleaned and laundry that needs to be done…there is good and bad in everything. There is no perfection, just all of us trying to do the best we can. And if it makes us feel good to share the happy bits, then so be it, share away.

    • Stacey says:

      I couldn’t agree more. I am going to save these wise words for my daughter to remember when and if she does become active on social media. She has already succumbed to the belief of ‘everyone’ and the ‘only one.’ “Everyone has a phone. I am the only one who doesn’t.” for example, I so hope that she will have the maturity to realize that people do not always look, act and feel they portray themselves to on-line… 

  6. Kristen says:

    I love your honesty here, Stacey. I just joined a few weeks ago and I’ve been slow to start for various reasons. I then read that article too when it came out and it gave me the same pause it gave you. So here’s my most recent Instagram truth: I took a shot of the beautiful tree shadow/snow interplay this AM after our snowstorm. Then I proceeded to drop F-bombs at the [insert crass name calling] who was a total road hog on our snow filled streets. But I suppose no one wants to see that…or do they? 😉

    • Stacey says:

      That you for sharing Kristen! And you are so right, I don’t think people do want to see all that. Although it does help to be reminded that there is a lot of honesty and ‘real world’ stuff behind all the perfection! 

  7. Nina says:

    Tons of good points! And I agree with you for the most part. That said, I wouldn’t really want to see status after status from anyone of stories of kids vomiting, etc. I have FB friends like that too and it’s just “ugh” even if it’s more “real.”

  8. Stacey says:

    Totally agree Nina. It’s true that we don’t want to see all the ugh either. I really think a lot of my feelings on this topic are coming from my panic about my daughter being on these sites soon. She is such a perfectionist as it is that I worry, worry, worry! This is why I will keep her off for as long as I can… 

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