Real People “Faking it” on Instagram
By: Morgen Sherwood
“According to a recent study released by non-profit Anxiety UK, over half of the social media users polled said Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites had changed their lives — and 51 percent of those said it’s not been for the better.”
“Experts from the Australian Psychological Society found FOMO elevates anxiety levels of teenagers and may contribute to depression.”
“FOMO is more common in heavy users of social media, the report said. One in two Aussie teenagers or about 50 percent of the respondents said they felt the fear of missing out on their friends’ inside jokes and events, as well as the chance to show they’re having fun on social media.”
The statistics above may not be surprising, considering the amount of time people spend on social media everyday scrolling through “the good stuff” people want to share from their lives. It can make people seem like their own lives are worse in comparison, causing anxiety, depression, and sometimes even unhealthy obsession. But, what if the “good stuff” (i.e. fun events, positive relationships, etc.) isn’t actually as “good” as it seems? What if people are “faking it” by presenting their lives to be better than they really are? Would we still let Instagram photos affect us in the same way?
Nadia, 27 of Hoboken, NJ “faked it” on Instagram when she was on a business trip in Los Angeles last year. She pretended she was roaming the streets of LA while she was really just stuck in meetings.
“I was in Los Angeles last year on business, stuck in a hotel room and meetings the whole day I was there. I felt like I missed out on seeing the city, since I had never been there before but I was stuck inside until I had to get my return flight- like I literally did nothing except work. Before I left for the trip, I kind of made it seem like it was going to be a fun trip to my friends… So, I found a photo of the city on google and posted it to Facebook- acting I took it while I was sightseeing or whatever…
People were commenting on it.. Like my friends and family were writing stuff, saying they wished they were there. I kind of felt guilty because I wasn’t there myself…but everyone does that, everyone posts fake pictures once in a while.”
So, next time you see a pretty Instagram picture and feel jealous because you wish you were there, remember this: the person that posted it may not even be there.
Or when you see a picture of a group of friends and feel sad wishing you were invited, stop and think about the possibility that they’re not having as much fun as it appears. Sam, 20 of New York City can explain:
“I posted a photo on Instagram of all of my friends during a party, looking nice and everything… but it was all fake because that night two of them got in a fight and by the end of the night everyone was crying and mad at each other.
The picture makes it look like we were happy, but it’s fake. I feel like a lot of people post fake stuff- fake happiness. Like friends could be in the biggest argument, but online it looks like everything’s fine.
Everyone wants people to think they’re having a good time, even if they’re not.”
“Faking it” on Instagram can even be as simple as posting old photos and acting like they’re recent, or tagging the location as somewhere that you aren’t. Carli, 20 from Westchester, NY admits to these “little things.”
“I’ve done stuff like posting selfies from years ago, pretending like I took them the day they were posted. I’ve definitely tagged a fake location before to make it seem like I was still there. Little things.
Instagram kind of gives the illusion that everyone looks their best all of the time because you can take a million selfies in a row and only choose one to post…It’s definitely not true to real life but we choose what we want to share on social media.”
The flawless picture may have taken a million tries. The location may be tagged as somewhere that the person has never been. The original unedited image may not even look similar to the filtered photo that you’re looking at. People on Instagram, Facebook, could just be “faking it.”