Instagram is arguably one of the most popular social media platforms being used today. With social media being such a prevalent part of life, it's almost as if everybody is living two separate lives; one outwardly and the other on their phone.
While there are clearly positive aspects of integrating media into a person’s everyday experience, it can also increase pressure on users to maintain a social appearance that they want to uphold.This is now more commonly defined by the term “aesthetic” that you'll see floating around social media nowadays.
An Instagram aesthetic is more than just color schemes fitting together just right, or writing each post in lowercase letters to convey a more relaxed, carefree tone (or just for consistency’s sake). Upon doing some research to write this article, I found that there are several web pages devoted to helping people create their online image. This whole concept extends far greater than just trying to make Instagram pictures appear color coordinated.
This is not just an issue with Instagram, but any social media outlet. Whether people are conscious of the distinction between the two lives that they lead, both online and in the physical world, whatever they're posting is constantly affecting each aspect of their dual identities. In many cases, an Instagram user with a thousand followers will only know about a couple hundred of them, personally.
However, everything has become curated to the extent that users know that their posts will be affecting potentially a limitless amount of people, so there's increased pressure to not only post a picture or text of substance, but to also convey a personality that will be attractive to massive amounts of viewers.
This is a whole lot of unnecessary pressure when you just want to post a picture of a sunset that makes you happy, but you avoid doing that with the fear of being labeled “basic,” or only getting 15 likes on a picture.
Activity in this online world helps craft behavioral patterns that a person can carry into their real lives, especially in regards to insecurity. There are several unwritten rules when it comes to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or whatever outlet being used.
With each Tweet, Snap, Instagram picture, or share, parts of you are being pieced together by outsiders, as they are creating an image of you that you will never know about, or ever know is accurate. It would be wonderful if most people entertained the mindset of “what people think about me is none of my business,” but unfortunately, that's never the case. Even we care about what we think about ourselves.
Identity crises can’t entirely be blamed on the rise of social media, as people of any age and in any condition will always be influenced by others around them. However, the Internet world makes matters entirely more pressing, and forces people to assume an identity. What causes the distinction between the two “lives” is that people are given the chance to recreate themselves, separate from the lives they physically lead. Having this choice is daunting. We have a lot of power in choosing how we want to be seen, and it's not easy.
I acknowledge that all of this is a first world issue, but identity is a big thing, and the media doesn't help make the process of "becoming" any easier. I'm probably too personable, and perhaps optimistic, to come across as unfazed and innately artsy on social media.
I often wonder if this is only an issue that females face. It can be argued that females are under a stronger amount of scrutiny and fear of slut-shaming from both genders.
With is being said, a person should know that they have the complete freedom to choose what they want to post- so you do you.
As cliché as it sounds, we will never be able to fit into a specific box, and it’s unrealistic of us to expect that of ourselves. We can't condense ourselves into a particular image just to give ourselves a particular, uniformed persona. We are just as messy as the pieces of ourselves that we leave behind in the Internet world, and we shouldn't feel the need to pick them up. And that's an aesthetic goal, in of itself.
Originally appeared in The Odyssey, reproduced at the request of the author