Monday, March 28, 2016

Is Social Media Killing Real Life?

“Does this picture match my theme?”

A question asked by millions as their thumbs hover over the post button on Instagram. No one wants a picture that doesn’t match the rest of their feed. Why, I hear you ask? Well no one wants to follow a clumsy, mismatched account – you don’t get insta famous that way. Duh.

“But wait! What about the ‘no theme’ theme?”

“It’s a still a theme darling. Oh, and remember, when in doubt - cactus.”


Welcome to modern day Instagram. A place where a theme is everything, and someone with fewer than 1000 followers is nothing. Harsh? Yes. True? Also yes.

Now that earning money and fame from your social media accounts is possible, it’s become the career ambition and obsession for many people around the world. But I’m here to ask the question: is social media killing real life? (Don’t worry. I’m not going to go all Essena O’Neil on you – I still like Instagram)

By ‘real life’, I mean all those things regular people do with their lives – get a job, work 9-5, endure the rush hour commutes, sit in badly lit rooms etc. While it would be lovely to avoid this reality and still get paid, let’s be real here – how many in the clamour to win Instagram attention will succeed? As of January 2016, there are an estimated 400 million active users on Instagram. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of attention that needs to be won.

This fight for attention and recognition has never been more evident than at this moment. As I write this, it's the day before Instagram changes the algorithm of it's feed; posts will be ordered by perceived relevance rather than chronologically and as a result, my current feed is a stream of posts stating "TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS FOR MY  POSTS". This simple change that, let's be honest I'm probably not even gonna notice, has instilled fear in the hearts of so many - the fear of losing views, likes, followers, noteriety etc. When did we all come to care so much? When did Instagram and social media become such a defining factor of our lives and who we are as people?

I used to want to be big on Instagram because feeling credible is a nice thing - but trying hard is tiring. I don’t have an extraordinary life, a famous family or live among the palm trees so insta fame was never really going to just happen. If I wanted to gain a following I was going to have to work hard – but for what? If I became big on there, how long would it last? Is my Instagram going to support me for the next 60 years? Probably not.

So, instead of working hard at that, I started to work hard at my real life instead. My life isn’t an array of perfect flat lays, vegan dinners and trips to the beach. My life is me, sat at a messy desk, drinking from a chipped mug and writing essays.

That’s real life. And I grew tired of trying to make it seem as though I live anything other than that.

As I scroll through my feed, I’m met with hundreds of pictures of lives so aesthetically pleasing, and so similar, that I just don’t believe them anymore. Did you really go to that artisan cafĂ© because you love it, or did you go because you know it’s a photogenic place? I can no longer tell the difference.

I’m not saying no to the insta theme and social media, I’m a visual person and use it to express myself; but what I am saying no to, is specifically living your life to be aesthetically pleasing and gain a following. Live and record your life, not the life you think others want to see, because people prefer something genuine.

Stop focusing on followers and focus on the moment instead - social media followings don't define us.


  1. Loved this post, I love instagram, but I do worry if it's filtering my expectations and my own memories!

    Made In The 1990s

  2. Totally agree with this post, although I like Instagram and everything there's more to life than doing things for followers. I find the whole theme thing a bit silly x

  3. I agree, I also think it stops people interacting in real life because it is easier to send a message via facebook than pick up the phone and call them.

  4. I must admit it is very annoying being on Instagram these days. Ever since that bloody announcement, people just went NUTS with those "turn on notifications" requests. If anything, it made me want to unfollow them.

    If ever I become "big" - great. If not, that's also great. I'm on Instagram to express my creative vision and share my photography with people who are interested. Not to beg for anything. Then again, I don't judge those who do - I just don't pay attention to them as that's of no interest to me.

    But I also have to say I don't appreciate the fact that Instagram thinks their algorithm can know me better than I know myself. I like to be shown a bunch of random, different things so that I can see what's out there and decide what I like MYSELF.

    Btw I totally agree about the real life thing! It's like no one works in "real life" anymore! Great post, great points made.

    Much love from

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