I always thought I had plenty to be happy about. Then I checked my Instagram feed.
Sonam Kapoor recently got married, before that it was Anuskha Sharma. And a while ago, there was the launch of Shahrukh Khan’s wife, Gauri Khan’s luxury décor store. Apparently, Akshay Kumar flew in for a day to surprise his wife on Valentine’s day. I saw it on some celebrity photographer’s (paparazzi, might I say) page on Instagram. Priyanka Chopra is out there being phenomenal and she’s all over Instagram, sometimes in Maldives, sometimes in India, sometimes in London or LA, and all the time in airplanes. And all these star kids these days have already become celebrities even before they have done anything to actually warrant any attention. There are several fan pages for every one of them.
There is a lot on my Instagram feed and explore that make me jealous, wallow in lust, and then wonder how these people seem to have so much money while I work like a slave and still have to do strict budgeting if my husband and I are to go a vacation later in the year. And even then we will once again have to fly economy class and choose budget hotels where they won’t change the towels unless you ask them to, and breakfast is tea or coffee, a slice of toast, and two eggs of your choice.
It’s not fair. It’s so not fair. I find myself repeating that in my head every morning as I scroll through all those glorious Instagram photos. Apparently, Anuskha’s mangalsutra cost a whopping 52 hundred thousand Indian rupees. And just like that, even before I have gotten out of bed, it’s been a bad, bad day already. I have come to realize that this Instagram addiction is really taking a toll on my sanity. While I’ve always thought of myself as a positive and grateful person, in the past few months I haven’t been feeling all that delighted with life. Looking at all these photos of celebrities at airports, parties, and on vacations makes me question the standard of my own life and makes me crave a life filled with luxuries of all possible kinds.
While I know social media fuels this kind of self doubt and negativity, once it takes root it’s really hard not to compare your apparently mediocre life with that of stars who never wear the same dress twice or carry handbags that cost as much as, if not more than, your most fancy diamond necklace and earring set. And even those were gifts from your in-laws. It’s not like you can actually afford to buy diamonds. There are better things to do with the money – like grocery shop, pay the electricity and internet bill, and even save, for that matter.
I recently unfollowed a Bollywood actor because I was tired of seeing her perfect life on my feed. Apparently that’s quite common. A recent study found that though the list of reasons we unfollow our favorite celebrities is long and varied, the green-eyed monster is one of the most popular reason with 79% of people saying they felt jealous looking at photos of their favorite celebrities on Instagram. Their luxurious lifestyles, money, and relationship status’ were some of the reasons people felt jealousy and, in most cases, this would result in that unfollow button being hit. The study also found out that another grievance we hold is seeing the amount of freebies celebrities receive, even when they can surely afford it all. And that reminded me of all times I saw posts of celebrities thanking so and so brands for the ‘wonderful gifts’ and wishing I could have one too. Can you imagine actually Soha Ali Khan’s dog got birthday presents? It’s not like I need them. But hey, when it’s free, who cares if you need it or not, right?
Instagram became a social phenomenon because it allowed people to transform snapshots into magazine-worthy images and share them easily with friends. Thanks to the built-in filters, everyone looks a little younger, a bit prettier, and a lot more cover-worthy. But what was supposed to be a photo book, journal, or a good way to promote businesses at most, quickly became a source of depression and anxiety for many. A lot of my friends confessed to feel really bad when they saw photos of globe trotting celebrities. And that’s despite the fact that their jobs allow them to travel quite a fair bit too.
I didn’t want to wallow in self pity and so I recently made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t look at Instagram explore and would just stick to working on my own feed and only look through photos of people I actually know. I was able to follow through for three days before I couldn’t stand it any longer and was back at it on full swing. Then I went ahead and deleted the Instagram app from my phone. I thought going cold turkey might be the best way to go back to being grateful about life and work to make it better, out of a desire for self-improvement and not a feeling of spite. But even that only lasted a week. I had a couple of Instagram-worthy shots and I desperately wanted to post them, and the app was reinstalled.
Photo Courtesy: ipsynopenstudios.com
But ever since then, I have been making a conscious effort to not drool over celebrity pictures and I found a really good way of using Instagram creatively. Turns out, there are so many fun and uplifting Instagram challenges and hashtags. You can #OOTD your favorite outfits and get excited about picking out clothes again, #Project365 challenges you to snap a photo every day, or #Blessed will get you thinking about what you are really thankful for. I have been challenging myself to follow a trend for a month or two and then move on to another and it has managed to change my perspective on Instagram quite a bit. I’m more focused on myself now rather than others and that’s such a respite.