Being a non-Instagram user, I’ve accumulated enough (well maybe just 2, but that’s definitely sufficient) years of observation to understand how Instagram cripples its very own users. That being said, I would like to first state that this is not a case of sour grapes because I own a Blackberry that does not have the Instagram function; though I admittedly adored all the amazing effects Instagram does to prettify even the most nondescript images, I soon found myself thankful to be excluded (mostly voluntarily) from this community.
The first and most obvious consequence of Instagram is one simple question – “Can I eat already?” Users or non-users can attest to this by easily recalling any experiences at the dining table. My food takes some time to come, and when it comes, I will wait for my friends’, and in the pre-Instagram era that’s where the wait ends.
But I’m no longer allowed to pick up my cutlery, bargain for a spaghetti strand from my plate or even steal a sip of my piping hot soup because someone wants to Instagram them. As if it isn’t cruel enough to prolong my starvation, they reach for my plate, cutlery, all other available glassware, and even the napkins, before proceeding to rearrange them in an ‘elegant’ fashion. Nobody notices how I incessantly roll my eyes while I wait at the sidelines. It is as though they are too caught up in getting themselves and their phones in the right angle, with the right amount of light, the right distance, the right effect…
When I finally lose my patience and ask for my food, I’m thrown impatient stares because I’m not helping their photos look any prettier. Through no fault of my own I am suddenly the object of blame, and labeled the Boyfriend because somehow boyfriends are the only ones who can’t appreciate or put up with these classic pursuits of poise. When my hunger pangs urge me to decide that enough is enough and return the stare, the chains on my food finally fall off and I am bestowed with the best (albeit cold) meal on earth.
Of course, this is not the end. It never is. The next consequence is a subtle manifestation of hankering after the praises of men. It occurs mainly in 2 forms: the Imperative “Eh go like my photo”, and the Introspective “Why nobody like my photo?”
Every Instagram-holic would be familiar with the number right underneath the photo – signalling the number of ‘like’s – and they’d be lying if they say they didn’t care. On the surface level this may seem like a pure photo-sharing platform, but more subtly and where most people are less ready to admit, I am inclined to believe that this is a form of popularity contest. Liking a photo that is not necessarily appealing is a tacit way of creating an obligation for the other to return the favour. Ensuring there is a significant number of Likes is a necessary way, consciously or sub-consciously, of sustaining one’s own license (and confidence) to carry on Instagramming.
There are more I’d like to add, but I would just bring up one last example: The constructed emptiness.
Instagram allows connection with people beyond the closest circle – from one’s family members to the rich and famous. Seeing the lives of people that seem to be way better throws one’s heart quite frequently into an abyss of melancholy. “Feels like my life is just so aimless”, is one phrase that you may or may not have uttered before but has, whether you like it or not, definitely crossed your mind.
Instagram addicts more often than not cannot help but feel dejected and discontented. But the real problem lies not with Instagram or their lives, but the ones who choose to indulge their hearts in envy, jealousy and competition when they decide to Instagram their entire lives. The grass is always greener on the other side, and with Instagram, anywhere but here just seems better. It becomes so easy to forget the tremendous amount of comfort, blessings and shelter in one’s midst, and life with Instagram the Beautifer just ironically seems to turn out tragically lackluster.
Without much thought, my Instagram friends always tell me to “get Instagram!” and mock me for being out of the loop while everyone discusses the latest posts by Ladyironchef, the famous online baking gurus, or the enviable fashionistas. I am often tempted to begin writing an entire paper on why I do not have Instagram but knowing that people are less eager to hear answers than asking questions, I am tremendously thankful to my Blackberry for saving me; the quickest and most straightforward reply would be “Blackberry has no Instagram”. I could delve into another analysis of why I’m using my Blackberry even after I was given the option of switching to the mainstream Phone, but that is not my point.
My point is, in actual fact I do not have not because I can’t; I chose not to. It really is just that simple but people who’ve become so caught up living the Instagram life can’t ever imagine one who wouldn’t. So if you think non-users of Instagram are missing out so much on life, think again.