As many of you may know (give or take 230 people specifically), I love Instagram. In fact, I not only love Instagram, I love the art of photography as a whole. Whether I am shooting behind my Canon Rebel or I am tapping my iPhone screen for focus – I just love taking a good photo. But that’s not my problem.
My problem came to light about a week ago as I sat watching The Princess Bride in a park. I was having a conversation (I obviously did not actually watch the movie at all) with a friend regarding Instagram. I think our level of love for Instagram is just about equal, and he admitted something rather profound. He admitted that he is “addicted to affirmation”. I think there was a wide-eyed, throat-gulping moment of realization that, I too, have that … problem. I was suddenly aware that I was in love with receiving that little orange notification as I opened my Instagram app. So I thought about this for a whole 20 minutes more and let the conversation roll on.
It wasn’t until I was driving home the next day that I found myself needing to pray about something … but instead found myself opening up Instagram. At that moment, I knew I had to delete the app immediately. My frustration leaked out onto my Twitter app and Facebook app, too, but those were soon re-installed. That’ll be another blog, for some other time.
Given that this was last Thursday, August 16th, I have been Instagram free for an entire week. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. I’ve been told that I’m one of the more “active” people that others follow. Which is slightly embarrassing, but whatever – I crave(d) affirmation. But here is what I’ve learned thus far:
1. Instagram is great. I believe it is a great tool that one can use in order to capture moments, store those moments and look back on those moments. Who doesn’t love to re-live vacations and still-framed laughing?
2. Instagram is not so great. I have found that my time spent looking to find “artistic attributes” to things (seriously, what is so great about a red door?) I’m missing out on what is happening on the other side or just what is happening in general.
3. I found myself going to extremes to capture an “awesome photo”. I would pull over the car or hold up friends. I think the one thing I found detrimental was that I would Instagram while with others. Maybe while in a conversation or just walking with someone. I was too caught up in checking if I got an “Likes”. That is just sad.
4. I have come to the conclusion that no matter how many “Likes” or “Followers” I attain, I highly doubt that my photos will end up in a silent room of some prestigious museum.
5. I have found that I enjoy moments more. I saw a rainbow this morning that was beyond me. My heart was beating so loudly from its beauty. I do admit that I did take a picture, but before I did, I told myself to enjoy it. The size and the color of the rainbow could and would never be captured in its naked form, as I saw it. The picture barely does it justice.
6. Lastly, I have realized that every picture should tell a story. If it doesn’t tell some kind of story, then what is the point? Sure, there is artistic beauty to behold, but what about walking out to see the Chicago skyline at 10PM with two people you have just met and have just shared this incredible story of their travels across America with you? See, the Chicago skyline would have just been a Chicago skyline for me in that moment of taking a picture. Instead, I decided to back up and capture a moment of these newfound acquaintances and their first view of beautiful Chicago. I shared this moment with them and got to capture it. Now that is a picture to look back on and be proud of – no matter how many “Likes” are received.
All this to say, I will eventually return to Instagram. I think this was a really healthy decision for me to step back and understand that Instagram is great, but it comes with a tag of distraction. It is all about learning how to balance and understanding what affirmation is. This type of affirmation isn’t a double-tap on a screen, rather it is a deep understanding that you or me or us are living a beautiful life through shared stories, not just pictures.