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Instagram can be a net positive if you handle your browsing with care. Here’s how I make it more “gift”, less “curse”.
Instagram. Where oh where do I start with Instagram? I hate that it plays such a big role in my life. I wish I could bin it a lot of the time, like most people. And yet Instagram has also been an incredible platform for me. It’s let me move away from being “just another model” to a real person that other people can connect to. And more recently it’s allowed me to start talking about issues I have become passionate about around body acceptance and positive self-image. All in all, I think the pros outweigh the cons. But it’s such a powerful tool that I’m basically a bit scared of it. I treat it like an army treats its nuclear weapons: to be handled with extreme care and the appropriate amount of fear.
I doubt anyone is immune to the power of the Instagram comments section. When I post a photo I wait to see the response it will get with equal parts excitement and fear. I have gone through phases when I only posted images of myself that were perfect - well let’s be real, it’s never perfect is it? But images that showed none of my perceived flaws because I was scared for the world to see them. And like everyone I go down rabbit holes of insta-creeping and always manage to come away feeling "less than”, even though I know the images that are making me feel insecure are just as doctored as any magazine cover.
When I talk about Instagram being as powerful as a weapon I’m only half joking. Whether it be validation from strangers or spiteful, hurtful comments, the feedback can burrow its way down into my brain and cloud my self-perception for days. I’m honestly not sure our brains are evolved enough to deal with it all in a sensible manner. But over time I’ve developed a very unofficial but very useful-to-me checklist of things to repeat to myself anytime I feel my head spinning in the social media vortex. See what you think :)
1. Unfollow accounts that upset you or get you feeling negatively. Looking at your boyfriend’s ex or someone you compare yourself unfavorably with can (and will!) ruin your day. Listen to the voice in your head and if certain accounts make it chatter too much...ditch them!
2. I used to wake up and check Instagram before I got out of bed. Now I make sure to have some time alone with my thoughts in the morning before I pop open the phone or the laptop. I saw recently that Kanye West does the same...great minds think alike ;)
3. Along the same lines, I now sleep with my phone away from the bed. Previously if I woke up during the night I would jump on Instagram. What good does that do to have a bright light shining in your face?! And in the quiet of the night it’s a good way to get sucked into a social media spiral. Make your bed for sleeping, not surfing.