Are You Tired of Instagram Yet?

We asked a few different women about the way they interact with the app and what they think about the version of reality it represents.
via @hannahjorkinz

Whether we like it or not, Instagram is a presence which invades and pervades among our main methods of communication and self-expression in the current age. Instagram is many things; it can be a way to keep up with the cultural zeitgeist, a platform for the exchange of ideas and aesthetics, creative inspiration or even networking and branding.

The admittedly darker side of the site outside of funny memes, fancy fam vacation pics or fashion blogger photos is a norm or standard of perfection which may exist outside of the realm of reality. The contrast between personal life and branding, edited or cultivated from natural and candid, becomes blurred. Does the trend of “Instagram Influencers” challenge common values in favor of superficiality and ultimately fabricated “perfection”?

We asked several women about their usage of the platform, the way they interact with it and how it makes them feel at the end of the day.

 

Lili, 24
From Hamburg, Germany
Living in Berlin, Germany

via @chili_lili

Hi Lili! How would you describe your Instapresence? How do you treat it in the context of your life, relating to people, etc.?
I’d say I don’t take my Instapresence very seriously. I like to have fun with it, I don’t post very often and I like to post funny stuff and meme-related shit in my stories. I think it’s an easy way to show others how you perceive the world and express yourself. I do feel like it says something about people how they use their Instagram. It can be very superficial or very deep; it’s what you make of it.

What kind of accounts do you follow on Insta? How do you tend to use it?
I use it to stay in the loop with friends and lifestyle stuff like music, fashion, art and general news. Often I just memebrowse – which is also just a way to keep up with everything news-related as memes can be very political and socio-critical these days. I only follow accounts and people who really interest me, I think mostly girls and women whose message or style empowers and inspires me. It’s also an easy way to discover things: I find a lot of art, music and fashion stuff through Instagram.

Who do you see that is really killing it on Instagram, in your opinion? Could be anyone or anything – a business or an artist or a meme account, etc.
Hard to only name a few but here we go: Hannah Woldetsadik (@hanniyexo), Paloma Elsesser (@palomija), Lizzo (@lizzobeeating) for serving beautiful thick/normal girl realness, Marz Lovejoy (@marzyjane) for showing how she’s handling life as a badass and a young mom, Maja Malou Lyse (@habitual_body_monitoring2) for everything sex-ed related, Ambera Wellmann Jr. (@amberawellmann) and Tara Booth (@tarabooth), two of my favorite artists right now, Mónica Hernández (@monicagreatgal) and Karina Padilla (@karinapadilla__) for documenting highs and lows in life in such a unique, honest and beautiful way and Tsunaina (@tsunaina) for the most captivating feed and face I’ve seen in a while. To me, these accounts have in common that they’re honest and real and raw at times. I don’t care for posed selfies and retouched bodies; that’s not what interests or inspires me.

via @chili_lili

Would you ever date a guy whose Instagram you didn’t like?
I’m convinced that Insta is an important tool for self-expression nowadays, but I also think no social media should be that overrated or overvalued that you exclude people from your life because of it. My little brother, who is top-notch intelligent, manly and funny doesn’t have Facebook or Instagram and is still more in the loop than many other people I know.

Yesss! How do you feel about the “Influencer” trend?
I don’t know jackshit about any influencers, I don’t follow any. I don’t like the idea that they’re supposed to “influence” me, that generally is not really my taste, and I don’t think the way they present themselves and their life is representative of anything real. I think realness should always come first – on Insta and everywhere else in life. Like Lauryn Hill said, “why should we try to fit into a standard? We’re all our own
standards.”

Do you think Instagram, in general, reflects reality?
It for sure can! It’s just what you make of it. I follow people that post about their acne, their stretchmarks, their period, their sex-life. It’s so important to see shit like that, especially as a young woman. To see other imperfect bodies and to know you’re not alone with any of your shit. But unfortunately, the biggest part of Insta is dominated by edited photos, in times where the Kardashians/Jenners, Beyonce and Ariana Grande are the most followed accounts, you can be sure that the glimpses you get of their life are perfectly manufactured and polished and have very little to do with reality.

via @chili_lili

How often do you check your Instagram?
It really depends on what I’m doing. When I’m out and about I go like 4 hours without checking it, but on days where I’m staying in or not doing much I catch myself opening it every 20 minutes, especially if I posted something or I’m messaging with someone. I’d say on average I check it every 1 ½ hours. But I don’t go to sleep or wake up with it, which is important to me. I wanna spend enough time with my life without the impact of what other people allow me to see of theirs.

What do you think about the trend of having a “finsta”?
I like the idea! I also have a finsta and to me, it made being on Instagram a little more fun, ’cause I just post more intimate stuff or memes or whatever I want to people that are close to me, kinda creating my own personal safe space, in a way.

Can you feel the effect for yourself of only watching people’s highlights all the time? How do you deal with that?
That’s not what Insta is like to me. I don’t only see highlights and even if I would, I can separate that enough from my own life to not be fazed by it.

Most people have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. Is yours more love or hate?
It’s love! Instagram is such a fun an easy tool to express yourself and find inspiration. If I hate anything about it, it’s more about me when I pointlessly browse for hours instead of picking up a book or getting shit done. But that has little to do with the app itself.

via @chili_lili

 

Diana, 24
From New York, New York
Living in Berlin, Germany

What’s your passion in life / watcha doin’ in Germany?
I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in journalism here in the hopes of becoming an international journalist within the culture, entertainment and live music sectors.

How would you describe your Instapresence? How do you treat it in the context of your life, relating to people, etc.?
I am pretty active on Instagram and post stories often. I normally don’t take into consideration who is watching because I don’t like to restrict myself on who I am, and I think my stories are an accurate depiction of my day to day life and myself within it. I use Instagram as a means to document, reflect and remember things that happened in the past when I look back on it. It’s a live photo journal that I can see, instead of just read or flip through.

What kind of accounts do you follow on Insta? How do you tend to use it?
I follow friends and family, celebrities, motivational accounts, things like that. When it comes to influencers, I follow many of them within the Berlin and New York social scenes but I try to limit my engagement or interaction with them because personally, that’s where some of the dark sides of the platform come out. Disguised ads, body image and lifestyle comparisons can also come into play, and just other potentially damaging thinking that can happen even subconsciously, as a result.

via @dianadoesntknow

Would you ever date a guy who is really bad at Instagram?
That’s a really weird Millennial question, but honestly, if my Instapresence is super active already as it is, I’d also kind of want someone else to be able to match that in a way and be able to show off his interests, talents or even me as his girlfriend on there, too. It seems arbitrary but, I speak for my generation and on behalf of my age group!

How do you feel about the “Influencer” trend?
It depends how people use it as a platform. I think for content creators who really try and work hard to produce authentic work and use Instagram as a place for them to expand on their creativity and those ideas or visions, it works really well for them and that’s believable and shines through.

Do you think Instagram reflects reality?
It depends on who you’re following and engaging with.

Do you think Instagram has a more positive or negative effect on body image? What are your thoughts about that?
Again, it depends on who you follow. If you try to compare yourself with celebrities that you’re following, good luck trying to feel good about yourself and your body. Especially people like the Kardashians or Victoria’s Secret models. Because deep down, we all know, and don’t get me wrong, I follow them too, but we all know that their lifestyle or appearance isn’t attainable for many reasons, but we always compare ourselves to them anyway. If you follow people like Sarina Nowak or Iskra Lawrence, who are also models and within those cutthroat industries, even smaller scale accounts like Ella Grace, they provide an alternative way of thinking for women, or people in general, about how bodies work and where beauty comes from and how it’s defined. For them, it’s not about if you can fit into a YSL jumpsuit and then buy it, but more about how to show yourself self-love, enough so that you know if something doesn’t fit you or work for your body, it doesn’t make your body wrong or any less special because of it. With larger scale celebrities, it gets difficult to find that viewpoint sometimes and so choosing who to follow is super important to me and perhaps to other women.

How often do you check your Instagram? Be honest!
I open my phone too many times to solely check Instagram so I don’t think I can round that up into a number, to be honest.

Does it worry you if young girls think that Instagram models, fitness accounts, etc. reflects the real world?
Absolutely! Our generation had television and magazines. This generation has Instagram. Social media and Instagram have a way of distorting images and perceptions that make young people think that it’s a reality. We have to teach them that art (if you consider Instagram to be art) doesn’t always imitate life and what you’re seeing… that there’s so much more behind it.

Can you feel the effect for yourself of only watching people’s highlights all the time? How do you deal with that?
I try not to let that affect me, especially having the knowledge about the platform and the users from behind the scenes since I started using Instagram like seven years ago. My sister also works in photography and as a retoucher, and so whenever I have my doubts or send her a photo of someone or something, she’s there to check me and make sure I understand that it’s only someone’s highlight and that I never know the reality behind the lens, the computer, the editing software, etc. So I think having people around you to check you when you’re feeling grim about yourself in the face of these platforms is a huge factor and great thing to have supporting and backing you up. Keeping you in check, almost.

via @dianadoesntknow

Sharon, 24
From Glasgow, Scotland
Living in Berlin, Germany

How often do you check your Instagram?
Maybe four or five times a day.

What kind of accounts do you follow on Insta?
Friends, musicians and fashion!

How do you feel about the “Influencer” trend on Instagram?
It makes me sad. It creates a misconception that value should be put on quick, material things – that that’s what success and happiness is (when it’s not).

Do you think Instagram reflects reality?
No. 🙂

How would you describe your Instapresence?
Mostly just photos of my friends for my friends… or things and moments that I love. In truth, I use it mainly for art and music inspiration. I talk to a lot of musicians in DMs about music and instruments, also artists about their work. But that’s private. I am guilty of posting some shameless stories though, but we can’t be all brains all the time. Where’s the fun in that? 😉

Do you think Instagram has a more positive or negative effect on body image?
Negative. We are comparative and competitive in nature. It’s an attribute of humanity that can be just as crippling as it can be healing. In the case of IG, where bloggers and brands have a knack for looking perfect in all their photos, I have to catch myself enough to remember it’s not a real reflection of the truth.

Does it worry you if young girls think that Instagram models, fitness accounts, etc. reflects the real world?
It doesn’t worry me as much as it disheartens me. I wouldn’t say it’s their fault because their views are very much a product of our (millennial) mistakes. Self-esteem is already at an all time low, and millennials were blessed with the prime advantage of knowing what life was like both before and after the internet came about. Even then, we struggle with its impact and have taken longer to truly find and understand where value and happiness lies. As for Gen-Z, growing up in this? I can’t even imagine…

What do you think about the trend of having a “finsta”?
That’s Instaception. Can’t say I have experience as I don’t have one. But one account is hard enough to deal with and I’m lazy as hell so I’m good on that one.

Can you feel the effect for yourself of only watching other people’s highlights all the time? How do you deal with that?
It’s hard to say because it all comes hand in hand. But for people like me, who don’t use Instagram for business and browse it as a product of boredom, it’s not easy. It creates a sense of urgency to do something social when it’s totally fine to take a minute to just hang out with yourself and read a book alone.

Word! Thanks gals!!