Style & Then Some

Instagram envy is ruining my life – but I just can’t quit

Instagram, editing, Olivia Sleet, photography, iPhone, camera, 2013

With more and more of us communicating visually, I find myself checking Instagram for updates far more than I check Facebook. So, I ask, who needs words when you’ve got heavily edited pictures?

In the days of yore before I got myself an iPhone, I envied the Instagrammers. The members of Instagram, the photo sharing website and app, seemed to live in a perpetual summer, where it was acceptable to post daily pictures of your healthy breakfast simply because it’s such a damn nice photo. In fact, not  just acceptable, but you get likes from other users to reaffirm your choice of smoothie, and can give your brekkie a self-congratulatory hashtag like #bodyisatemple to boot.

But then I got an Instagram account myself and I realised even the best filter (I’m saying Earlybird – what are you saying?) does not make my life cool. I’ve uploaded pictures of my dad’s 60th birthday cake, a book, my shoes, Elle magazine…all for the sole purpose of saying, ‘this is how I’m living my life’, which would all be very well and good, if it were not cruelly juxtaposed with the way others were living their lives. And when you’re following the likes of Alexa Chung, Miranda Kerr, Chiara Ferragni and Poppy Delevingne, no amount of sepia tone can make a shot of my Primark boots compare to those model beauties with their perfect Insta-lives.

The problem is that Instagram feeds you two kinds of lies:

1. Life is idyllic. All the time. By making an otherwise mediocre photo (I’m no Annie Leibovitz) appear as if it were taken in the 1970’s, what is actually happening in real life is as idyllic as on the screen. Thus you look back at the memory, thinking, ‘my, that Kerouac-esque road trip we went on to Tesco sure was fun.’

Instagram, desk, camera, photography, 2013

Real world

Instagram, filter, photography, camera, 2013


2. Celebrities are your friends. Much like Twitter, Insta-follows do not equate to actual friendship. This is all the more galling when you’re scrolling through your feed, and in amongst your friend’s dog, friend’s nail varnish, friend and boyfriend, there’s supermodels Karlie Kloss in New York. Like the luckiest, richest most annoyingly successful friend in the world.

And, yes, I admit, all this institutionalised jealousy is my own doing. I decided to follow exclusively supermodels and actresses, and I choose to relentlessly refresh to get another toxic hit of a beach, a red carpet, a catwalk. Worryingly, I feel myself changing as a result; last week I went to Instagram the floor of my hairdressers to tell everyone I was getting a haircut. I plan nights out with my best friends on the promise of some flattering, hipster photos gracing the internet the next day. I no longer consider a photo to be ‘good’ unless it’s had the Instagram treatment.

All this has culminated in my general avoidance of mirrors, lest they should show me how my face looks in real life. It’s a tough life, but here’s hoping that one day I get to actually go to Coachella like the rest of my celeb pals, instead of photographing my back garden and putting it through the Nashville filter.


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