I disabled my instagram account.
It’s only been two weeks, and I already have to get back on to hype up my friend’s new song, “Hey Montana”. (Go listen, it may sound suspiciously familiar…!)
I disabled my account for a lot of reasons- I felt anxious every time I went to post. I wasted so much time staring at nearly identical photos trying to choose which one, fretting over editing, wondering how I would be received. Like every picture was an audition to be allowed to stay in my social circle.
Women, especially, get a lot of ridicule and criticism for how we utilize social media. We post content often, in the most aesthetic way we can, looking for engagement and likes.
That isn’t ridiculous.
THAT is the human condition- to engage with others, to seek comfort through approval from our peers, so that we can have a place in our great big world- a place where we know we fit. That’s powerful. And important. Any sociologist or anthropologist will tell you the same.
Do the tactics get more and more drastic and dramatic? Yes. But does that not imply we’re more hungry for finding our belonging than before? Isn’t that an indication that we don’t KNOW how to be liked or approved of anymore, now that our lives are visible to millions of eyes?
In attempt to figure it out, we throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. And I mean everything.
But the real problem lies even deeper, as I learned the other day.
I drove through glorious Rock Creek, Montana this weekend, on my way to take care of my friend’s chickens while she’s out of town I had an eye-opening experience. The air has started to crisp up, the foliage just barely starting to turn, autumn sunlight slanting a little differently than any other time of year. I thought to myself, “I could share this to instagram.”
Sharing is a lovely thing. Nothing wrong with sharing.
When I remembered that I could, in fact, NOT share this moment to instagram, though, I thought to myself “I wish I could do something with this…”
I didn’t consider myself an option…
that I could be the person who gets to enjoy this moment! It didn’t occur to me that I can just… have it all to myself.
This isn’t sharing.
Sharing means having something, enjoying it so, so much that we realize someone else might like to have some of it, too. Without having it ourselves, first, that’s not sharing- that’s giving it away.
I STRUGGLED to fully appreciate this golden Montana moment because I reflexively deny myself and pivot to prioritize the pleasure of others. (My people pleasers will feel this, especially.) Trying to bask in my own moment of pleasure without thought for someone else felt… foreign. I concentrated hard, thinking, “I love this. I do. I enjoy this. So much. Feeeeeeling the enjoyment.”
We are so stressed out, so anxious that love and belonging will slip through our fingers at any moment, that we don’t even allow ourselves to savor our own joy anymore. The minute it hits our brain, we take the snap like a quarterback, give ourselves a moment to analyze what everyone else is doing, adjust accordingly, and then lob it out to someone else. (Wow, a football analogy, J? You’re turning into Dad.)
I’ve been on the warpath with Instagram for a while now.
It’s been an interesting exercise. At first I was dejected, I felt like I had NO enjoyment. It was depressing. I felt more peaceful than ever, true, but it wasn’t good right off the bat. Slowly I realized that when I get an “impulse” to share, I’ve got to learn how to pause and ask myself: “Did I get a turn, first?”
So maybe I don’t need to quit instagram altogether- I miss following your beautiful lives. Fabi, I’ve longed for IVF updates. Sumi, I want to know when your episode of Heels is going to air, Kyle, I want to hype up your new song and share it with everyone I know. There IS good here. IF we learn to actually SHARE, and not just give away.
And when we fully appreciate the wonderful moments, they get tinged with our unique love and become even more beautiful and potent for it. Which makes sharing even better.