Or watch the video I created around this blog post on my YouTube Channel:
Open up Instagram and scroll for a few seconds. My guess is that you’ll see at least a few perfectly edited shots of people you follow — all living perfect lives.
If only your life could be like that, right?
And herein lies the problem.
Instagram and social media, in general, offer a fantastic platform for sharing your message and creating an audience. But there’s a dark side to all this relentless posting.
Living for the “Likes”
Unfortunately, we now live in a world of constant comparison. We are so obsessed with getting likes, followers, and comments for social validation and gratification that it’s fucking with our minds.
When you get a like on Instagram, your brain releases a little hit of dopamine, just as it does when you use cannabis, alcohol, or most other intoxicating substances. This can become addictive. You never know how many likes you’re going to get on a post and there is something in this unpredictability that makes the process so irresistible.
The Highlight Reel of Your Life
While you sit there scrolling through your feed and feeling like your life is inadequate, you’re forgetting one really important thing. That glamorous fashion blogger has probably spent the last 30 minutes taking hundreds of photos to get just the right angle, lighting, and framing to make the photo pop.
They might have even paid for a photo shoot in a private jet! Yup, that’s a thing now. You can read about it here.
When you start comparing your life to those you “follow,” you stop creating the life you want. You get sucked into feeling like your life is inadequate in some way, and the gap between where you are right now and where you “think” you should be, widens.
But What About Inspiration?
Looking at buff gym freaks will not give you six-pack abs. Liking that smoothie bowl photo will not make you healthier. Seeing the cute, lovey-dovey photos of that photogenic couple will not make your relationship any better.
This is not inspiration. It is a distraction.
Take a mental snapshot of how much content you consume versus how much you create. If you are spending more time consuming than creating it should be obvious that you’re heading down a slippery slope.
How can you decide on the direction you want to go in life if all you’re doing is filling your mind with unrealistic snapshots of other people’s carefully curated lives? This clouds your vision and robs you of your motivation to actually do something meaningful.
The Kind of Comparison That Matters
Comparison can actually be a good thing. When you compare yourself today with the person you were yesterday, you can figure out if you’re trending in the right direction.
Have you put a stop to the endless worrying thoughts about failing that class at university or college, or meeting your clients’ lofty expectations on an important project?
Are you able to respond with patience when someone slams on their brakes in front of you?
This would indicate you’re now better able to take control of your mind and the unconscious behaviours that were so deeply ingrained. If, on the other hand, you notice you are getting more angry, stressed, or anxious, you can make a commitment to respond differently next time.
This is how real change happens. When we stop looking outside to measure our progress and instead turn inward, the powerful human being we were always meant to be can finally begin to emerge.
If You’re Feeling Up for a Challenge, Try This
Stop using Instagram. Delete it from your phone and honour this commitment for seven days. Then, take some time and notice how you feel.
According to studies, people spend 53 minutes per day on Instagram! Over the course of a week, that amounts to more than six hours!
Imagine what you’re going to be able to do with all this extra time.
That’s some serious space for exploring something creative. You can stop telling yourself you don’t have enough time and instead work on a skill or talent that you’ll be proud of when you look back after five or ten years of consistent practice.
No one is going to reflect on their life wishing they had spent more time on Instagram or any other social media platform. After all, it’s not actually “real” life.