I’m developing an aversion to Instagram. I still love the photos, I still occasionally post and I still double tap like the ship’s going down. But being around people who use Instagram are driving me crazy.
It feels like every conversation, every meal and every outing is getting interrupted by selecting filters and later, goofily smiling at a screen with one’s head hunched over. It happens automatically, mid sentence, the transformation from friend to photographer. Just take the damn picture already so I can eat these scrambled eggs.
Don’t get me started on the lull in conversation created by the launch of Instagram videos.
It’s getting easier and easier to make our present – well – less present. We want to do cool things now because we’ll get to show people we are doing cool things. We’re trying to capture our experiences and share them with others so that people know we’re happy or sad or hungry or funny. I’ve already had to make allowances for people who have to tweet something right away or respond to a text right away or check their email right away (the result of a boyfriend who works in the media). But isn’t it getting out of hand? We have developed so much etiquette about what to post and how to do it correctly. Will we ever have etiquette about when to do it (ie. not in the middle of a conversation?). I’m 27 – the looks I get asking people to put away their phones during overdue dinners or intimate brunches makes me feel about 80. It’s uncomfortable and also totally understandable.
I’m not even above this habit. I’ve had the dreaded millennial thought pass through my mind more than once: Does this matter as much if no one knows I’m doing this? I have to post this. Right. Now. Brewery tours, days at the beach, rainy days at home – Sometimes it isn’t enough to just do those things. I want people to see it and react to it – like it or not, it tends to add to my experience of doing those things. I’m cringing just writing that out, but there we are.
So why is it suddenly making my skin crawl?
I struggle with a lot of anxiety – which at its root is about losing the ability to be present because you’re frantic about all the possibilities of events in the future. And I’ve come to realize that managing my anxiety is about trying to stay present, and allowing myself to feel all the feelings as they are happening. Fretting about the future strips away my ability to enjoy all the things that are happening right now. I end up missing a lot of things because I’m worrying about the next thing. Trying to move away from that means enjoying what’s happening now – sans worry, sans documentation, sans social gratification.
People Instagram for a lot of different reasons and I’m sure most of them aren’t all about inherent narcissism. But it won’t stop me from thinking twice about our habit of interrupting the present in order to document our memories – not for ourselves, but for other people.