You guys, I’m upset. Once upon a time, I joined Instagram because I was a wannabe hipster. I took way too many pictures of my food, I went filter crazy, and I was all about those monthly challenges. It was like a little community where we all live-blogged what we were doing and that was cool.
Lately, Instagram has become this graveyard for interesting things. It’s been taken over by every self-promoting person on the planet. I can handle people who are taking pictures of themselves because it’s actually interesting. I’m enjoying seeing Sherri Dupree-Bemis’ baby bump updates each week (musician in Eisley, wife of Say Anything’s front-man and Case Files alum, Max Bemis). I enjoy when fitness bloggers I follow show their progress on eating healthy or working out. Heck, I don’t even mind when people take pictures of themselves with food.
But there is something that is shifting, something that makes my stomach turn and makes the lovely, hipster-ridden whimsical fairytale of Instagram look like a blackening pool of self-indulgence. It’s in every third photo, in every ambiguous hashtag, it’s in at least one of your feeds on a daily basis.
It’s what I like to call the “Instagram Self-Hotness Catalog”.
I swear people are using Instagram to track their hotness. This has become a place where people take photos of themselves all day doing nothing. It’s just their face, sometimes looking at the camera, sometimes not, but let’s face it – we’ve all seen it. The person who says something like, “Got new eyeliner today!” and really, it’s just a picture of their sexyface or their oh?areyoulookingatme? face. Some don’t even try to hide it. Just a picture of themselves, doing nothing, just all up in my Instagram feed with nothing to say.
At first, I speculated there was this tenuous relationship between some of my Instagram friends. I built this imaginary tale up in my head that it was a bunch of star-crossed lovers who just wanted to be seen, understood, and lusted over. They were taking a sexy picture hoping s/he might notice. Then it just got out of control and it turned into a Narcissism Apocalypse.
narcissism n. Excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.
Guys, it’s not fading away. This is a trend. Social media is turning us into self-absorbed jerks. Even people I thought immune to this phenomena – therapists! – seem to be the worst perpetrators of this. Upon further reflection, it made total sense, but still… what is going on?
This is a desperate plea. Let’s all (myself included) examine our use of social media, especially Instagram. If you find yourself sitting alone, thinking about how badly you want some attention, some affirmation, some recognition of your accomplishments… ask your loved ones for it. Learn to speak to your needs. Seek opportunities to explore self-love and disconnection from a “Like” on a picture of yourself. If this is something you’re willing to consider, go on an Instagram detox! Allow yourself no photos of YOU for 30 days. This is an INTERVENTION.
Let go of the influence social media has on your self-worth.
About Jen Bingaman, M.A. LMHCA
Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a mental health counselor newly residing in Seattle, Washington. I strongly believe in the mind-body connection as the cornerstone of my professional ideology, along with the healing possibilities of puppies, a good glass of red wine, the smell of a new book, and the importance of travel.