Last week we began to talk about Social Media. We talked about how sometimes using Facebook, despite trying to make us feel connected and loved, would instead make us envious and lonely. We talked about the danger of comparing ourselves to the highlight reels that we tend to present ourselves as on Facebook.
It’s easy enough to feel this life envy from looking at friends’ posts and pictures. It is even easier when you’re looking at strangers, especially the perfect strangers you probably follow on Instagram. Unlike Facebook, Instagram does away with statuses, and focuses solely on pictures. It also generally allows more access to strangers. It’s still considered a bit odd to be facebook friends with somebody you don’t know. That stigma does not exist on Instagram. Without this stigma, it becomes increasingly easy to engage in a new behavior called lifestyle stalking.
Do you follow anybody on Instagram that you don’t know? Why do you follow them? With lifestyle stalking, you follow somebody because you aspire to or are jealous of his or her lifestyle. This includes those incredibly fit people with the body pics, those world trotters with their crazy travel pics, and fashionistas with their damn good style. Also included are those people who seem to have it all figured out, who write blogs about how to live your life, and post nice pictures of coffee (in other words the type I sometimes pretend to be but am definitely not).
We follow these people, these bright cast of beautiful people with the perfect lives, because that is what we aspire to. If they can live like that, than surely we can too. I’m going to let you all in on a well-known secret through.
These lifestyles, these perfect people… they are all a lie.
I’m not saying that they are intentionally lying to you (although I will point out that a lot of people do get endorsements from products for promotions and you should never forget that). I am saying that they, like everybody we know in real life, prefer to present their good face to the world. Just like Facebook, Instagram is a highlight reel.
Unlike Facebook, we don’t know a lot of the people we follow on Instagram. We have even less ability to know what they might be exaggerating, or what their real life might be like. If I believed everything about the people that I follow, I would be under the impression that people don’t work and they get all of their travels paid for all the time (although I still don’t know how they actually do afford to travel as much as they do).
We lifestyle stalk because we aspire to be what they represent. There is nothing wrong with aspirations. Having a clear image of what you would like to be is important and healthy. However, just as with Facebook, these healthy emotions can become something worse. Aspirations can turn to jealousy. These perfect fake lifestyles can make us feel terrible about our own.
Both Facebook and Instagram can make us think less of our own lifestyles. However, they can also make us act differently.
Next week, we’ll be talking about that, and we’ll be talking about what we can do about these depressing topics.