Living life outside of the lens

IMG_9793Megan Winkle

While scrolling through the explore tab of Instagram, I often see pictures of travel destinations, selfies and concerts and think to myself, “why can’t I have that?”

Instagram is a form of social media allowing people to post pictures of some of their most unforgettable memories. People find excitement through editing the perfect picture and attaining as many likes as possible. While it certainly holds its leisurely benefits through staying connected with others, a drawback has become quite apparent with the app’s increased usage among teens.

Comparing and competing are natural tendencies in human beings, especially for teenagers maturing into adulthood. Whether it be physical appearances, grades or mile times, people seek assurance through knowing that they are better than others. While this cutthroat attitude is often unhealthy, sometimes, it is just second nature. 

As a young adult who has lived in Coppell for most of my life, I am particularly excited to simply experience more. I am excited to meet new people from distant parts of the globe and experience cultural traditions in multiple ways. I am excited to live in different cities, eat exotic foods, attend music festivals and more. 

I know that this is what I want for my future but when exploring Instagram, I cannot help but feel that I want that lifestyle now. I become impatient and dissatisfied with my current quality of life. It is hard to avoid this feeling when I am inundated with photos of various people doing all the things I want to be doing. 

“It is easy to see someone’s best pictures and compare it to your low points, especially when you are bored with your own life,” Coppell High School senior Amela Pjetrovic said. “It’s important to know, though, that those ‘best pictures’ are not real.”

It’s important to know, though, that those ‘best pictures’ are not real.”

— Amela Pjetrovic

It is important to note that frequent Instagram users only post the best out of the tens or even hundreds of pictures they spend time taking. In reality, those pictures are taken over hours of fixing lighting, getting the right camera angle, touching up makeup and using Photoshop. This culminates into a social media account acting as a facade of a person’s life, only capturing the good parts and what they’re proud to show. 

Obviously, this is not the full picture. 

People are much more than what they paint themselves to be on social media. Nobody wants to post about their bad days, their flaws, their insecurities, yet everyone has them. 

Consequently, many teens find themselves detracting from life’s important moments by fixating on getting the perfect picture and creating that facade to keep up with the societal norm. Ultimately, by focusing on snapping that photo for Instagram, people are not genuinely experiencing their lives and their unique experiences at their fullest. Afterall, no moment can truly be experienced through a lense. 

“Focusing on how you look in a picture versus having fun with your friends can take away from meaningful events,” CHS senior Pam Mason said. “As long as the focus of an outing isn’t placed on taking pictures, it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Instagram doesn’t have to be detrimental.” 

Mason makes a strong point. As stated, Instagram has its benefits. It is fun to see what others are up to and look good in pictures. It is important, however, that this does not take a negative toll on people’s self-perceptions.

So occasionally, put your phone down. Do not compare yourself to the highlights of one’s life and do not let that detract from your own quality of life. Actually watch that alluring sunset rather than taking a picture of it. Laugh at that funny event rather than re-doing it for an Instagram video. Listen to the music at that concert rather than filming it. Afterall, your life is for you to experience rather than flaunt on an account.

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