Instagram is Something, But it’s Not Everything

We live in a world where we put parts of our lives through filters before we allow even our closest friends to see them. We live in a world where we can just delete people without having to look them in the eye as we wave goodbye.

You might be wondering why we’re carving out the time to talk another minute about the internet on the internet. Here’s why: it can be a powerful, community-building tool, but only if we know how to use it in a way that is honest and balanced.

Instagram is meant to be a bonus, not your home base. 

The only reason that Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are problematic is because people have started to put the base of their relationships and their worth in them. It sounds silly because it is. Your online interaction is meant to be an overflow of your life, it’s not supposed to be your life.

We have put our identity in something that is quick and has minimum requirements for community commitment.

We cling to words from strangers that aren’t even sitting in our corner.

These things are fun, and they can be authentic spaces for confessions and encouragement. But if you see yourself through the lens of any one media source, it can wreak unnecessary havoc on your heart.

Instagram is something, but it is not everything. 

When real life friends don’t filter you, box you up, and call you boo. 

Instagram isn’t worth our tears anymore. 

Social media has killed off some of my most anticipated relationships.

It’s like I allowed myself to think that if they didn’t show me off online, the realness of our relationship didn’t exist or didn’t matter. Or that if someone doesn’t make me their #wcw or mention me in the night of our dreams that what we had wasn’t real. These lies are not true, so from the other side of them — don’t give them space to grow. Just because someone doesn’t post about an event — that doesn’t mean it wasn’t meaningful. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t walk away grateful for you. It just isn’t a little square in their profile.

The world doesn’t need more competition.

Our culture needs more people making memories with one another before they try capturing them. It needs friends that are willing to be honest with each other.

The best friendships happen when you take the pressure off of them. When you don’t feel the need to prove the relationship online of all places. When you do, it’s a celebration of the love they are already sure of, because you show them through your actions and in so much more than your tags.

Instagram is Something, But it's Not Everything | Rising Tide Society

“But you just seem so happy.”

Social media is a great tool for business, ministry, and keeping up with people. But, the minute we see their accounts as their whole lives is the minute we are wrong and need some perspective.

We are not in any way entitled to believe everything we see online is the extent of that person’s life.

Instagram has millions of honest smiles, but you can bet that it also has a few pretty little lies, too.

I have a few internet friends that know how I am doing better than the acquaintances across town. I’m adding this to say that it is possible to cultivate community online. It is possible to become best friends and to even fall in love. Even still, we must keep our common sense intact when it comes to quick judgments.

We’ve started to put away the work of making our life more genuine, and instead tried to make it look prettier. 

The point is: don’t make an assumption on a person’s well being or life status if you don’t commune with them on a deeper level, either online or face to face.

Myth: you’re nobody until someone likes your photo. Or wants to be your real life friend.

Sometimes you have to accept, no matter how hard you want someone to understand the contrast of the dust and light in your heart, that they want nothing more than 140 characters. They want your surface, not to ever sacrifice to keep you safe. Smile at those people, but never call them yours.

Let the dirt come out in its own time, if you pursue a deeper relationship with that person.

Or not.

Let me say it again, love: It’s just the highlights. 

We’ve got to step out of our stereotypes and beyond our tiny bios for awhile.

We’ve got to announce this: I am more than what everyone sees.

But these highlights are important to me.

Social media can be good. I’m glad it exists.

But pay attention.

It is merely highlights. That is all. Even when we share about bad days. Trust us when we tell you that we have dirt swept under the rug and monsters under our bed.

Wait, so you’re advocating for social media? 

I don’t want you to go and delete all of your social media accounts now. This isn’t a post shaming you for using social media.

Yes, I love Instagram. I’ve seen it crush spirits, but I’ve also seen it cultivate new lifestyles and relationships. This is because their writers wrote honestly. They knew that there were real, beating hearts on the other side of them when they pressed Share. The internet is a veil, but it is a thin veil between us. We can turn from competition to community. We can make this sweet transition by taking the time to think about who is on the other side, what do they need to hear today, and what can I share with them that could be like music to their ears?

Whenever we choose to see our people for the side that they show everyone, and choose to beat ourselves up over what we see to be true about people online, we dilute the potential community life there. Don’t be afraid of what’s real.

How do I find balance and cultivate community?

We are called to be authentic, but that doesn’t mean we have to share our whole diary online. 

We’ve got to meet in the middle. Don’t underestimate or over exaggerate. Mean what you say, but don’t say everything you’re feeling. Share your heart, but don’t add drama or gossip to an already-cluttered space. This is very important.

Share a lesson you’ve learned this week, but don’t complain. Be honest about your rough day, but don’t brag.

My general plan for using my profiles for good: (1) Make captions honest. Whether they are meant to be a challenge, or a celebration of friendship, or a cutesy lyric — whatever little piece of you that you can give to your followers, make it honest. (2) Think about the people on the other side of your screen. There is so much more than double-taps at stake here. (3) Post all that you want that is honorable and forget all the other rules.

Before you go…

Let this be our new Instagram anthem: We won’t apologize for sharing words that mean a lot to us or memories that brought us sunshine in a dark season. We won’t apologize for sharing highlights. We won’t apologize for keeping a few to ourselves. We will be authentic with all of the resources we are given, and we will encourage community on the internet, with the clause that reminds everyone that there is always more beneath the surface. We are loved outside of social media, but we also want to show others love in our use of it. 

To the haters: let us take pictures of pretty things and thank God for moments that awake something good in us. We will no longer give you the power to make us feel inferior. We are all just doing our best.

Let’s be people that inspire community that defeats all odds wherever we are. Let’s make our lives, our businesses, and our relationships so driven and beautiful that our profiles couldn’t possibly show it for all it truly is.

Emilee Clemons

Emilee Clemons? She’s a hot mess and a sinner, dearly loved and made into a new creation by Christ alone. She lives amongst the Flint Hills of Kansas and is soon-to-be a senior in high school. Emilee is a lover of rainy days, the Greek language, and classic movies. Her career is still a fuzzy dream to come in the years ahead, but she is passionate about missions, art, literature, mentoring, a strong cup of coffee, and writing. You’ll find pieces of her heart in countless cities and villages all over the globe. She believes in the power of authenticity and long handwritten letters. Emilee’s prayer is that she would manifest God’s grace in her life and in everything she creates.

2 comments

  1. Absolutely love and agree. Thank you for articulating the feelings I struggled expressing! Although my entire work is of visual means, I cannot allow SM to measure my value, it is simply a pretty piece of the puzzle. People, let’s create balance; go out and live your life and don’t forget to determine your value in reality, not just likes!

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