As a non-profit director and social media manager, at one point I’ve overseen five Instagram accounts, so I spend a lot of my time in the world of hashtags and Instagram feeds.
I have this theory of late: sometimes if we want to know some of the unhealthy patterns, or even vices in our lives, all we have to do is look at our Instagram feed. Staring back at us might be a few perfectly constructed outfits, our own reflection, our dreamy wanderings through the world and strategically placed meals with few strategically chosen people.
Though, what’s not pictured is just as important as what is: our tears, our arm fat, or the day we spent crying and questioning the meaning of this beautiful, crazy life. For it’s those really messy and hard moments that keep us humble, remind us of our humanity, and make the share-worthy ones that much sweeter.
We have the liberty to make our Instagram accounts whatever we choose them to be: whether that’s a snapshot of daily outfits, delicious eats or inspiring workouts. But, on some level, we also must acknowledge that our accounts can be a reflection of what we use to define ourselves, of what we adore and who we are becoming.
While Instagram is a wonderful tool for capturing the moments of life: for keeping up with faraway friends, sharing photos of family and capturing memories you might otherwise forget, don’t forget to ask this question: what kind of life are you living outside of your Instagram feed? Are you living a good story? Are you loving the people in your life well? Are you present in the in-betweens of life, or are you more concerned with capturing a picturesque moment to prove that you are living a dreamy kind of existence others should envy? Are you more concerned with how many “likes” you are receiving rather than genuinely liking and loving your friends?
… don’t forget to ask this question: what kind of life are you living outside of your Instagram feed?
While social media is a wonderful way of connecting, it is also an incomplete way of measuring your value and validating your worth in the world.
A photograph can’t capture or communicate your importance — you’re deeper and more complex than any 2D image could ever give you credit for.
So, when your phone is nowhere to be found, who are you? What do you like regardless if anyone “likes” it along with you? If you’re flourishing in real time, your feed will follow suit. Give yourself permission to live unplugged and enrich your soul offline — it’s where the real magic happens.
Off Insta originally appeared on Darling Magazine.