Instagram Envy

Have you ever been having a great day, feeling good about yourself, to then go on Instagram and it feels like a shadow’s starting to melt you away?

I’ve been away from Instagram for a solid 2 years. I deleted it along with every other social media I had. Now that I’ve been back for a while, I can clearly see the damage it can do to my mental health.

I think we’re all too familiar with that mild dread by the way. Some people call it fomo- the fear of missing out, but I think it’s deeper than that. I will always bang on about life being one massive grey area. Even when you see your friends didn’t invite you out somewhere, it’s not that big of a deal because it’s a one time thing, right? And it’s not just a single time, even if it happens a lot, you can kind of understand.

I do think it’s deeper than that, and we don’t help ourselves with our habits. Are you guilty of cyber stalking? That’s a very toxic one that we can do semi-consciously when someone we forgot about just pops up in our feed. We go on their profile and judge picture by picture, trying to re-affirm ourselves that we’re doing ok. We go on comparing and sometimes being pretty nasty in our heads, to then go back to our profiles and feel like crap.

I know that I do. There’s no stopping me in the comparison game. All my life I’ve been told that I have to be the best because it’s a nasty world out there and if I want to do well I can’t compromise. I’m sure many of you feel the same. That’s not to point and blame someone else for our short comings, but the way we see and interpret the world is hard to change. To be honest, I’m still at uni- I’m still a life newbie. I feel like I’ve settled into myself and what I’m about like three months ago. I’ve only just left school and the mindset of reaching target grades and seeing getting into uni as a ticket to paradise and an insurance for a life of abundance- which it’s not. Seeing my peers- people of my age, achieve so much so early in their careers can be a big turn off, and it has an effect on what I do offline.

Let me know if you feel like this too, but seeing people get internships and starting on their dream carriers makes me question myself. With the hard work I put in to my uni work and career, and the very small amount that I get back. It can be tremendously off putting, and for those with frile mental health, it can be soul destroying.

That’s why so many people have recently been posting their cries for help online too, to show they’re not ok. I’m sure you’ve stumbled on the stories of distress of Instagram models. And I think it’s alright. I’ve grown past seeing it as attention seeking. I’ve been to bad places with myself, and can guarantee that those cries are genuine. It’s difficult to just sit there and feel divided from everything, like you’re not yourself, when you’re a message away from someone who might care, so you post away. That’s ok.

I’ve been trying to remember that all social media, but Instagram especially, is selective. It’s full of highlights. It’s the perfect image of ourselves that we try to beam to the world. My friends have screamed through the phone screen at me telling me this, they’ve  sown me how they take Instagram pics, how selective they are with hashtags and everything, but it just doesn’t stop me from feeling low. It’s because it’s not the likes that I’m envious of, or the shots. I’m embarrassed that I’ve missed my own opportunities. It points out the inequality deeply set into our world. It’s a result of too much information and too little communication.

We don’t help ourselves at all. We focus on things and not on people and the people we focus on -we objectify. We get a high-end foundation once in a while to take a picture so we look like a social media influencer. Every cup of coffee or meal out has to be broadcaster, so we don’t fall behind. A girl might take a picture of her body in a dress without her face in it, just to get likes, what the hell is that about? I’m not here to judge people for doing what they want, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of these pictures, and especially those taken by teenage girls, are taken to fit in under pressure.

We’ve let some reality TV sisters tell us what a woman’s body should look like- none of it natural. We’ve sold our souls to products the Instagram famous have sold us, and we desire to be like them- earning money from doing what we love. Accept, do they love it really? Or are we just spinning the wheel off Instagram envy into further insanity? Pretending we’re all having fun with our lives, and that the world would be a perfect place if it weren’t for Trump, whilst girls are using waist trainers- which are basically corsets- to conform to the standards someone with lots of money set, because all their friends are doing it.

There’s the unspoken rule of Instagram, where everyone should broadcast their lives on Instagram as if they’re a superstar. Don’t have a theme? Forget it, no followers or engagement. Don’t spend too much time editing your photos to perfection? Well then no on as the time for you. I’ve seen how high the bar for photos has been set over the time I was away from Instagram, and it’s challenging. I don’t know what about you, but I know e


  • Sophie Alice Talks

    I love your writing style. I completely agree with everything you wrote. In particular, I strongly agree with the part about young girls wearing waist trainers, I think it is a horrific trend which is so unhealthy. Time away from social media is absolutely vital. I’m guilty of becoming too wrapped up in switching between the same four apps for hours on end. However, I’m making changes and spending more time in the real world. Thank you for sharing this piece x

    • Alicja

      Thanks for reading and your feedback. I’m glad you agree, I think a lot of people seeing more of the negatives of social media and are taking the right steps to enjoying it safley. At least I’d like to hope so.

  • Zainab Onuh-Yahaya

    I love this! And it’s so true. We’ve become so focused on social media popularity, we don’t even appreciate that sometimes its okay to just be yourself;and that we’re loved and appreciated by people around us. We seek validation so much from strangers online and that is NOT okay. This post is amazing!

    • Alicja

      Thanks for giving it a read, we seems to even care more about our internet stalkers than our close real life relationships. I think a lot of people have started thinking twice about how much social media they use. I’ve been trying to put my bad days as well aa the good days on my insta story tp show more of a real picture. If more of us do it, the more we’ll help each other with mental health and self esteem.

  • Emily

    You say this is a rambling post? I’d have to disagree with you on that, it’s written beautifully and I can completely relate to what you’re saying! We should not be pressured and as you say, taking a step back from social media once in a while is definitely a good idea to destress etc! Thanks for posting this 🙂

    • Alicja

      Thanks a lot for your comment, I guess I thought it was rambling because I usually write poetry and that’s a very tight form. I’m glad you could relate to what I wrote, it’s important to just unwind away from the screen sometimes and take a step back from what it all means.

  • Eden

    WOW this is an incredible post every word is so true. Social media is a downward spiral of sadness and fake. Even though I do admit I am a terrible social media user but over the past few months I have been cutting it out more. And it makes me feel so much better! X

    • Alicja

      Glad you’ve been able to cut back, it’s incredible how such small things can affect us. Even a few minutes less can help. Thanks for giving my post a read x

  • Aleeha

    There is so much in this post that I can relate to. I can definitely relate to the bit about not being able to completely be myself because a certain person follows my account. This year I’m hoping not to delete instagram, but to limit the amount of time I spend on it…
    Aleeha xXx

  • kal

    What you speak about with Instagram is exceptional in the sense that every bit of it is true.
    Instagram for a fair majority of people is a highlight reel whereby they’re playing a game in order to be better than one another despite hardly any of it being true. I do feel this holds a great of negative connotations, particularly for girls trying to fit in – due to the fact that society has placed expectations on them in regards to beauty. I mean, you sum up this greatly, my perspective on this stems primarily from 1. celebrity culture – and I use the term “culture” very loosely as it’s not truly a culture – as opposed to a system of replaceable short-straws. They apply their own lives to online platforms and fail to realize how many people see them idols (which they shouldn’t be doing anyway)
    2. the fashion industry – the most guilty of the two. A system of “be that thin, dress like this, and don’t eat this” this pressure alongside celebrity influences cultivate this false slideshow of Instagram highlights whereby everyone has be the current terminology of beautiful, as well as portraying plastic photographs of their daily lives. This is why so much self-esteem issues are common amongst our generation – particularly in girls – which in-turn also becomes a trend. Because that’s the new trend. (hate to toot my own horn as I do appreciate your blog, but this is something I wrote about specifically on my blog also)

    Instagram is a problem. – Depending on how much you give a F. But for most it is. Online media in general. A game for likes and false still shots of lives people aspire to which doesn’t actually exist. Broadcast this and like this. People are more concerned with faking life experiences for followers and fake sincerity than they are in building moments that matter.

    I mean, I understand the other side to it all. Our generation is dealing with life at a much more difficult rate than prior generations. This is fact due to the expenses of living itself. So we crave small comforts. I.e. photography, phones, subliminal videogames such as Instagram and facebook popularity. But as you mentioned this is all unhealthy and affects self-esteem and so fourth.

    Crucially, it all rewires our brain – as you said. Life becomes competition for things which hold no importance nor benefits in the log run.

    I’m glad you wrote this, Alicia. Apologies on my extended comment. Your words are quite moving.

    • Alicja

      Thanks for the lengthy comment I certainly appreciate it and will look at the post you mentioned. I’m glad you can see the message I was trying to convey. I agree with what you say about the causes, a lot of marketing is directed specifically at 14 year old girls, playing on the most insecure and fragile time in their life. I’d go as far as to say that the marketing firms are the ones inciting peer pressure, and subsequently, bullying. It makes me want to do something about it, I may be able to get involved in a volunteering opportunity at secondary schools helping with awareness of cyber security and bullying, but that’s a whole other story.

      I wish people did take a step back and see it as less serious. and see that a lot of the anxiety and pressure surrounding it doesn’t have to exist. Like you said, we have very fast paced lives and more work to do and more expectations to fulfil (our own or otherwise), so we don’t need any more trouble.

  • Dhawal Joshi

    I liked the way you write down the things and certainly social medias are things that often make us feel bad about ourselves. But if we keep the comparisons aside and just enjoy the feed and possibly be a part of the success stories that our friends are sharing with us, it’d actually make us feel better than feeling bad about our own self. Instagram is one of the most depressive socials, I’d agree with you on that. Especially when someone is on a trip and uploading beautiful scenes and selfies and you are in your room with your wifi scrolling their trip pics up your insta feed. At such times I just keep my phone aside and go out for cycling.

    • Alicja

      Thanks for the comment, I agree with what you say. There are downsides to everything, and your social media experience will certainly be what you make it. I’d say a lot of people don’t realise they’re allowed to unfollow people, or not follow back, or not post what others are posting. It’s a good fix to go outside, I try my best to use Instagram as a motivator. When I see people achieving I reflect and try comparing myself to my old self, rather than to them, and looking at ways in which I can improve my life in the present moment, one step at a time.

  • Vee Wilde

    Girl, I feel this so strongly.

    I often toy back and forth with my social media – what do I post, what will people like; does it even matter? Why are we pandering to what other people will care about, when really we should be using it for ourselves? I know I definitely suffer from FOMO a lot. Not just with social media but generally, so social media definitely heightens it.

    I keep telling myself to just let go and post whatever I want, but it’s so, so much harder than that.

    Keeping an eye for new posts, your style of writing is mesmerising.

    With love, V x

    • Alicja

      Thanks for the comment, I know how it is feeling stuck between wanting to be noticed and being yourself. I think there is a fine line between healthily showing off and being addicted to people’s approval of how you portray yourself online. I’m glad you liked the post and hope you won’t be disappointed with new ones x

  • Emsi Rose

    Thank you so so much for sharing. I definitely feel that social media, Instagram especially can be toxic. I have time when I barely scroll through it because I really can’t be bothered with a feed plastered in a fake idea of ‘perfection’. However, I also believe that our social media experience is heavily down to who we follow and that to an extent we do have the power to decide what we see and engage with. I’ve certainly been enjoying the benefits and positive experience of social media since I became unafraid of following and unfollowing who and what I wanted xx

  • Sophie

    I couldn’t agree with this more! I used to not care what I posted, it was just badly lit photos with friends etc but now theres so much pressure to post regularly and such high quality content that it becomes so stressful. I know I often compare my feeds with others and I really shouldn’t!- x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *