Even mentioning the word “Instagram” conjures up reactions that fall across a wide spectrum ranging from frantic obsession to disdain. Occasionally, those two seemingly opposite responses merge into one, creating a compulsive need to check the app while simultaneously feeling worse once it’s been opened. Through some trial-and-error, I’ve found a few ways to circumvent negativity experienced with Instagram and truly enjoy the platform.
Stop the Unnecessary Comparison
How long does it take to kill a good mood? As long as it takes to open Instagram and start comparing yourself to the first perfectly-edited picture that pops up. Comparison, especially on Instagram, is a simple trap to fall into. Even though we all know that uploaded pictures have been retaken, obsessed over, and edited, it’s still easy to compare your own pictures to others’ tally of likes. Instead of being envious of someone in your newsfeed, try to be happy for what they’re doing, how they’re looking, or what they’re accomplishing. It takes awhile to consistently reframe thoughts, but focusing on being positive about others’ documented feats and follower counts makes it easier to avoid closing the app feeling frustrated with yourself.
Branding Isn’t Everything
It seems like everyone has a different viewpoint on the importance or triviality of personal branding on Instagram. There are arguments to be made for or against it, but deciding what you want to use the platform for is the first step of letting go of branding anxiety. If you want to use your account to market yourself and get ahead in your career, go for it. If you’d rather showcase pictures of your life and loved ones without sticking to a decided-on color scheme and filter selection, don’t feel bad about it. Your Instagram posts should be true to what you want, whether that’s by keeping them within a certain brand or not.
“Instagram Should Make You Happy”
On a recent episode of the Rookie podcast, Tavi Gevinson and Janet Mock’s conversation turned towards Instagram. Tavi mentioned that a Rookie reader recently said that “Instagram should make you happy,” and that choosing to follow people who share inspiring content will create more positivity in your newsfeed. The Rookie contributor’s words illuminated a truth to me that should have been painfully obvious from the moment I signed up for Instagram: of course it should make me happy. Why else would I bother with it? Unfollow the people or companies who cast a negative shadow on your feed, and instead, focus on posting and enjoying creative and uplifting pictures that bring some good into the world.
Don’t “Hate Follow” People
Lala contributor Madeline Makoul recently wrote a piece warning against the danger of “hate following” people on the platform, specifically bloggers and other Instagram celebrities. Similar to comparing yourselves to others, following the people you’re jealous of and constantly criticizing them (even if it’s just to yourself) isn’t healthy to you, and doesn’t promote a positive outlook towards other humans. Either make efforts to stop critiquing those in your feed, or cleanse your “following” section from people you follow only to be snarky towards.
Live in the Moment, Not Just on Instagram
As important as Instagram may be to your career or social life, it’s vital to let some moments breathe. Let them be uninterrupted by the flash of a camera or minutes of agonizing over lighting or staging. Sometimes the most beautiful moments of life should live in our memories alone, not within our Instagram feeds.
image via Laura Claypool