Insta-Ham. Why the Shamelessly Overplayed Lives of Instagram are Bad for Your Health.

You can’t swing an iPhone X these days without experiencing the picture perfect lives of an influencer or two… thousand on Instagram. Their feeds often display carefully coloured palettes in perfect pastels, painstakingly choreographed scenarios and outrageously ostentatious outpours of braggadocio. All a steady stream of contrived snapshots portraying their seemingly envious lifestyles.

But deep down inside we know it’s not IRL, right? So then why are so many of us trying to emulate the “fake” lives of such shysters? Are we dying to be just as phoney? Does promoting our lives as a world full of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows really make us happy? Perhaps it’s all just a case of the old green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head? Or is Instagram the perfect excuse to showoff? I mean, are we all just another Kelis trying to prove, “My ‘Milkshake‘ is better than yours”?

According to a report published by the Royal Society for Public Health UK; Instagram is one of the most damaging to young people’s mental health and wellbeing and is associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO or “Fear Of Missing Out”, defined (by Google Dictionary) as, “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media”.

Sadly, the majority of Instagram user’s FOMO is caused by comparing their own real lives to other people’s meticulously curated social media lives. When it comes to social media we often only get to see a person’s highlight reel. The not so great parts are left on the cutting room floor – who wants to see that. So psychologically, it’s easy to think others are living their best life, when you’re not.

It’s a dangerous thought process that can make you question your own happiness. After all, isn’t the point of Instagram to compel a user to “like” your post? And if your pic doesn’t generate the desired amount of likes, how does that make you feel? Inadequate? Boring? Uninteresting? And here’s where it gets real. Real fake. In order to “keep up with the Kardashians”, people are turning to fauxtography. The use of filters, photoshop, crops and props are rife within the Instagram community. A widely used ruse that is ultimately to our (especially teens and young adults) detriment.

I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. I use it to promote my Mummafication blog, so it’s a great tool in that regard. However, I hate the fact that in order to capture the attention of current or potential followers, I too must be a slave to aesthetics. Although, in order to combat the negative effects of Instagram, I give myself boundaries. Yes, I’ll admit it, I use very basic colour filters (there! I said it), but I never use photoshop, colour palettes, beautifying filters or contrived shots. Because I want to portray my REAL life by capturing real time moments.

For me, the key here is to stay grounded and “keep it real”. I’m not an influencer or someone who leads a glamorous lifestyle. Just a Mumma with a mediocre Instagram account. And that’s A-OK.

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