The Instagram Love Challenge
A 30-day challenge to post the right way on Insta and other social media apps
The Wedding: Two people in love, coming together. The idea of fairytale-esque true love manifesting itself for everyone to see; The symbol of everlasting happiness. It’s all over our culture, especially in the movies we create. Everyone has watched that romcom (you know the one) where someone asks the bride, “are you happy?” And she replies, tears building in her eyes... “yes.” Or that quintessential scene where some secondary character asks the reluctant lover, “do they make you happy?” But have we ever stopped to ask what these characters mean by the word “happy”?
Why do marriage, weddings, and romantic love often equate to happy in our vocabulary?
Most of it is culturally based. I personally blame the aforementioned Romcoms that have been plaguing cinemas for decades. The romcoms have only gotten worse since Shakespeare’s day, with Netflix popping them out like the sushi rolls on Drake and Josh. But hey, people love sushi.
It’s a type of infatuation we’ve seen for many generations, but not so blatantly displayed as it is today.
I call it Instagram love: The romance we show on social media. Something many of us — even me — are guilty of at times.
First, to understand how romantic love or social media love is a form of self-love, you need to understand Self-concept. Self-concept is concepts we have regarding ourselves. If we play sports, we see ourselves as an athlete — someone who works at white-collar job views themselves as a professional. Typically, people who believe in small government and low taxes identify as conservative. Whereas, people who believe in big government spending and a woman’s right to choose might identify as a Democrat. In a broader sense, Self-concept deals with how we see ourselves in the past, the present, and ahead in the future. You may say, “well, I haven’t had a good bae in a while, but I might in the future! And when I do, my self-concept will be better cause I’ll have a smoking hot partner!” You believe you’ll become a better you! But why?
Society says it’s a sad thing to be single. Now people won’t see you as a tragic, pitiful lonely creature adamantly searching for love. Self-esteem restored!
Okay, everything you just read sounds irrational, right? But those ideas circulate through all of us, all the time. More often than not, lovesick ideas can be hard to escape. That’s why millions of people go on dating apps. They even have that shit for seniors. No one wants to be a bachelor or an old maid despite there being nothing wrong with either of those lifestyles.
The underlying problem is when you’re innocently scrolling through you’re feed and stumble across your friend’s recent post. A cute picture of their significant other eating a bite of cake while dining at the Cheesecake Factory with a caption: The only thing sweeter than this cake is my amazing bae (heart emoji) I love you babe so glad you’re mine!
With that bite of delicious creamy goodness, and that cheesy insta post (pun intended), comes a potentially unhealthy mindset.
People typically post things they love, which can include a significant other (if they have one). Lots of social media users show off their parents, friends, pets, etc.
But have you ever asked yourself why you post these things? Why you post your vacation, and how cool it was? Are you sharing fun, or are you trying to impress? I’m not accusing anyone of feeding their ego through social media. I’m going off of what I see. And what I see is the majority of people I follow post more about the good things going on in their life — the kind of things that will impress others.
I believe there’s a middle ground between posting your loves, and impressive aspects of your life. Think of influencers who share photos of themselves with Ferrari’s in front of mansions, despite none of that stuff belonging to them. Or those “I made 7 figures in negative 19 seconds so come buy my course so you can too” guys. They make a lot of money off of people who want a lifestyle like there’s. Or, at least, the lifestyle they’re pretending to have. It makes you wonder why they’re spending so much time and effort on creating these courses if they have so much money already?
The same can be said for us. But in a different, more passive way. Why do we feel the need to post pictures of bae and I at the mall, or eating dinner? What’s the point in posting that? What’s the point in showing me that photo or video?
Why do we take out outrageously large loans for big houses valued at 3 times our annual income?
Why do we buy all these things we can’t afford? Why do I want $100 Ray-Bans instead of the $10 knock offs that look precisely the same?
We buy sunglasses, shirts, purses with a famous high profile logo, romantically associate yourself with a partner, all to show the world we have money, and success. Doing this creates you a self-esteem vacuum, where a big chunk of your worth, your Self-concept, goes into what other people think about you on social media.
It’s a digital form of keeping up with the Jones’s, where followers are a currency, and likes are the exchanging of said currency. The more exchanges — like a wall street trader — the wealthier you become. Consequently, the more prosperous you become, the fancier you become. Then love becomes something you use to show off to the world — Instagram Love.
Not everyone participates in Instagram love, however. I fully recognize that. There’s plenty of people who don’t have any desire to show off at all. I didn’t know they had a significant other until they told me in person or over text. If you’re one of those types, then you no longer have to continue reading this blog post. In fact, write a post of your own.
I’m kidding. Don’t go, please, because I haven’t told you about the other kind of Instagram love that’s out there. The beauty of posting whatever the fuck you want, not posting what you think other people want to see, or what would make them admire you.
View it as an intervention; A challenge. All you have to do is go a whole month (30 days) without posting your significant other, accomplishments, fancy things, food, and anything else vain, on social media. I promise I’m not saying this cause I’m single and may or may not be annoyed by others posting their sappy romance on my feed. I don’t care at all (as I type with tears with single lonely tears in my eyes). In all seriousness, I tried posting whatever I wanted for a couple of months, and I discovered something quite interesting.
When I stopped posting pictures of my food, the cool places I went, and the people I hung out with, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. The weight itself was consisting of hefty stress I felt from continually striving for a good photo of my food, the cool place I was visiting, or the cool people I was hanging with. I didn’t worry about what other people would think, I just lived in the moment, and only took photos when I wanted to.
There’s a scene in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, A movie about Walter Mitty, a man who’s obsessed with daydreaming that’s had a wise stain upon my brain for years now. At the end of the film, Walter finally finds the famous photographer he’s been searching for, Sean O’connel, deep in the Himalayas. Who has the photo the magazine Mitty works for is trying to find in time for their big final issue? Walter Mitty finds Sean in the Himalayan mountains, taking pictures of snow leopards, an animal that’s mentioned in the film as being extremely difficult to find. The camera shows Sean look through his viewfinder at a snow leopard, but he doesn’t push the shutter button. He instead looks up from the camera and marvels at the rare cat off in the distance. Using his own eyes, he chooses not to scramble for the photograph everyone and their mom would praise him for taking, and live in the moment.
I hope you accept my challenge, post what you enjoy, and not let social media pressure keep you from living in the big/little moments of your life. After all, you only have so many.
I don’t hate social media by any means. I think it’s one of the greatest inventions in human history. I’m on literally every social media app there is. Nothing has ever connected us so tightly as facebook, Instagram, and apps like Snapchat have these past 12 years. But I think we can all agree; it wasn’t meant for other people, it was meant for us, the individual, to enjoy wholeheartedly, and not worry about what other people think. That worry is a tremendous power. One can put the power in yourself, or others. That is, the power of who can control your emotions. Will it be the opinions of your followers, or You?