With eyes glued to the glowing screen of my phone I sat with a lump in my throat. My chest was tight, anxiety was building and my risk of developing repetitive strain syndrome in my thumbs was increasing with each time I pressed refresh on my new Instagram post. You’d think this was a lot of intense, negative emotion directed toward an app that was originally created for the purpose of light entertainment… but unfortunately it was a regular thing for me.
I’d always pictured the lives of influencers as this rosy perfect ideal world. A world of gorgeous clothes, flawless makeup and gallivanting off to brunch at the drop of a hat. But as my follower count began to rise, and I’d officially been declared an “influencer” by Instagram itself, I realised that there was a lot of toxicity hiding beneath perfectly curated Instagram grids.
Despite only having a relatively small audience (just over 10k), the pressures of living a perfectly Instagramable life were taking toll on my already fragile mental health. It felt like every single follower was waiting for me to slip up. I was staring at myself through a metaphorical microscope, judging myself on every single flaw, holding myself to standards that I’d invented for myself. Each post had to be perfect, and if it wasn’t then I wasn’t insta worthy.
The paranoia that real life Law wasn’t up to par with Instagram Law started nibbling away at me. I sat worrying every day about what would happen if someone saw me in real life and realised I wasn’t the best version of me that I’d presented myself to online. Nobody saw the not so perfect pictures, the ones where I’m pulling a weird face, the ones where I don’t look “slim enough” or have one too many chins. It felt like I was lying to over 10,000 people. I felt like a fraud. I couldn’t just sit in my room at night wearing scruffy old pyjamas and no makeup. I had to look perfect at all times, even if nobody could see me.
And then it hit me. I was the problem here. I was guilty of buying into this false parallel universe that I’d created for myself in the form of filtered photos and good angles. And I wasn’t the only person.
It wouldn’t have mattered if I had 10,000 followers or 10. This is a problem that most young adults feel in the contemporary world. Not only are we faced with feeling the need to match the standards of photoshopped models in magazines, but we feel like we need to match up to the online personas we create for ourselves. The best version” of yourself that has become dangerous, because it’s you, just that bit better that you never feel you can match up to.