How You Can Use Instagram, the Most Vicious Form of Social Media, to Help Others
By Vanessa Palencia
*Disclaimer: This does not apply to professional companies or brands
We’ve all heard it before. All the photos on Instagram are deceiving. They’re curated to portray the perfect picture of people’s lives. We never see behind the scenes, we never see the unedited photos, and we never see the other 30 takes of the same shot. We only see that one seemingly perfect photo. While there was never anything inherently wrong with wanting to post the ‘prettiest’ picture for everyone else to enjoy, it took a wrong turn when others started believing that what they saw was an accurate representation of what our lives are supposed to look like. No wonder reports of depression and loneliness increased!
What started out as an innocent way of sharing our fondest memories with others turned into a vicious form of social media that preyed on our low self-esteem. Talk about some serious FOMO! So why on earth would thousands of other people, including me, want to use Instagram as our platform to help others? Because, and I speak for myself when I say this, I strongly believe that we have to solve the problem by starting at the roots.
If you want to talk facts, there over 800 million Instagram members, which means over 800 million eyes soaking up all of these ‘perfect’ photos and possibly feeling inadequate in their own lives. What’s more is that, a majority of those who are majorly affected are women who start to compare themselves with what they see on Instagram and believe that they are not good enough. And since we hold that power in our own hands to fix this mishap, I believe that it’s my duty to show those who were wounded from Instagram’s entrapment of ‘flawless’ photos that this social media platform can be a place of empowerment and positivity if we learn to use it correctly.
So how do we do that?
By being real and raw. It sounds so simple, but it can get so complicated. If you think about it, when you meet someone in-person, you get to witness all of their quirks. You see how they walk, hear their tone of voice, feel their overall vibe. It’s completely different than what you will see when you go on their profile. And even though there are many users on Instagram that try to be as real as possible with their followers, it’s so hard to be raw. I know because I struggle with this, and I see how many others struggle with this as well.
As a self-love advocate, my aim is to inspire others to love themselves completely. I’ve posted photos of me in all my glory (read: fat rolls and no-makeup selfies) and I rarely use any filters. I talk about my struggles and I talk about my peaceful moments, but even with all of that I’m still not raw. How do I know this? Because if you go on my profile (@vanessapalencia15), you’ll see a lot of happy looking photos and possibly associate self-love and body positivity as an easily attainable thing. You’ll probably think that my progress to that level of happiness was quick and linear, and that’s because I don’t show you all of those times I broke down crying, all of those times I was in such a negative mood, and all of those times I legit hated myself. I’m showcasing the ideal pathway to self-love and body acceptance. While it might be a good thing that I want to help others learn to love themselves, I know that I can do more. We all can do more.
So if you’re passionate about helping others, and you’re eager to help turn Instagram into an effective platform that can restore people’s confidence and overall well-being, then you need to learn to be raw. When you look up the definition of raw, you’ll find that it means “being in or nearly in the natural state.” This means you need to be vulnerable as much as you can, but in order to do this, you need to overcome your fear of what others will think because you need to get comfortable with showing your unpolished self. Show what you look like when you’ve just rolled out of bed, messy hair and all. Talk about your feelings exactly as they are, no sugar-coating or beating around the bush. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised at how many people get uncomfortable when it comes time to doing it and will avoid being this vulnerable. However, through your vulnerability, you are helping millions of people understand that all of those flawless photos aren’t real. You are turning this vicious form of social media into a place of compassion and acceptance, and you become a part of a movement that helps lower the numbers of depression and loneliness. Of course, being vulnerable isn’t for everyone, but you can still be an ally. Whatever your choice is, you can still make an impact just by supporting others who are being real and raw. Your voice matters.
Comment your thoughts below and share how you'd love to help support turning Instagram into a more positive place! I'd love to hear them.