Why Instagram is like window shopping (sometimes)

Instagram is like window shopping for the life you wish you had.  That line came to me as I was doing my nightly scroll through the ‘gram.

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Who isn’t guilty of posting a vacation selfie to Instagram? This one didn’t make my feed, but I had plenty others from last October’s trip to Mexico.

I don’t know the origin of the phrase FOMO (fear of missing out) but I swear it must’ve been birthed because of, or around the same time Instagram became to be.

In my not-so-distant previous working life, I was an online lifestyle editor. After many, many years writing and chasing local news I transitioned to what seemed liked the shiny, glam world of fashion, beauty and pop culture. Truly, I loved it, but if you’ve read some of my previous posts you’ll know that the reality of journalism sunk in very literally.  

Instagram is essentially the social pulse and lifeline of the lifestyle world, in my opinion. Brands, lifestyle journalists/bloggers/content creators/photographers – whatever they choose to call themselves push and publish their work on Instagram. They promote themselves there, inspire their followers and yes, maybe even make them feel little less than (unintentionally) in the negative sense or encourage them to strive for a lifestyle more elevated than their own, in the more um, positive light?

I consider a lot of what I see on Insta as mini magazine editorials, style shoots, flat-lays even ‘candid’ shots are well-planned, and more often than not shot with a team of professionals. Posts are curated, scheduled and yes, sometimes sponsored.

Yet, even with all my knowledge and first-hand experience in knowing what goes on behind the scenes, I still sometimes catch myself with a little bit of envy, committing the sin of comparison and yes – feel the dreaded FOMO.

When I was a part of the lifestyle journalism world, I still felt a bit like I was on the outside looking in. Because I worked for a national newspaper company, my Insta posts were objective, filtered maybe, but not edited on third party apps, and they were never sponsored or paid for (though I was offered a few times) and I carried the same non-spoken, but understood rules for my personal Insta account. Yes, I have posted professional photos taken of me at events, I’ve shared my personal favourite brands and sure I’m guilty of a little filtering here and there, but I’ve always tried to be myself.

The photos I share, the captions I write, even my stupid hashtags are all in the genuine sense of how I talk, how I write, and I how I choose to share that moment in my life because I don’t consider myself or my feed a brand (though I’ve been advised to and admittedly thought about it). But I always wonder where does the line in the sand get drawn?

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Hands up if you’ve ever taken a mirror selfie. This was at an event for Winners. Media was allowed to shop the new store in downtown Toronto before it opened to the public. Notice me clenching my hand? It took me a few tries to get a photo I liked – and no, it wasn’t this one.

I was at a media event once for a big sports brand, and I overheard someone say “I don’t post anything unless it goes through two editing apps” I was a bit shocked and started questioning every photo I took and posted.

Another time I heard a girl say she got hate from her followers for posting a photo of herself styled in black when she is known and popular for her bright aesthetic.

Black is a staple, sometimes a girl wants to wear black, why should there be backlash for that?

I understand and respect that Instagram has become bread and butter for people, and let’s be honest those who have been successful at it are incredibly hard-working and creative. But when I catch myself falling into the damn, I wish that were me attitude I remind myself of these stories. I remember how many shots it takes to get that perfect one, the agonizing over this pose or that, this lighting or nah?

It’s not fake, but it’s not always real life.

(This is the photo I ended up posting to my Instagram page, notice the differences?)

Window shopping can be fun when you know or tell yourself you’re not buying just looking and it’s cool. When you window shop with the mentality ugh, I really want this now and I wish I could have it, it sucks. That’s how I’ve come to look at Instagram now; I don’t want to emulate someone else’s life, because honestly, mine is pretty damn good and I remember this nugget of knowledge from my favourite bear, Winnie the Pooh: “If you weren’t you, then we’d all be a little less we.”

So next time you find yourself in Instagram-life- window-shopping mode smile and take it as inspiration to not be like someone else, but to live as your best self unedited and all.

2 thoughts on “Why Instagram is like window shopping (sometimes)

  1. Pingback: Contemplating social media’s filter phenomenon | The Ms. Adventures

  2. Pingback: Fitness advice from the heart: Kindness over comparison | The Ms. Adventures

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