I was hooked the first time heard about Instagram. As in checking it compulsively all day every day. That kind of hooked.
Little did I know, Instagram art was a thing. Seriously, for the sake of what I’m about to share, I just googled “Instagram art” and there are articles all over the place saying to follow this artist or that artist. People who take everyday pictures and transform them into art using apps on their phone.
My buddy who has over a hundred thousand Instagram followers loves to dabble in such art. He’ll take the most random things like a deer in a forrest and add a bright ray of light coming from it’s eyes. He’ll then add a planet in the background with some stars and presto, you’ve got one of his curated pictures.
I remember the first time I saw one of his pictures thinking to myself that’s weird and so not my thing. Then I saw how many “likes” and comments he had. A lot. Thousands of them.
I was immediately envious. I wanted that many “likes”. Better put, at that point in my life I needed that many “likes”.
So off to work I went. I took a picture of a rose in my front yard and with the aid of an app I added stars and planets to it. With the help of another app I took the sunlight out of the photo so that the rose had a black backdrop. I then split the rose in two putting it on both sides of the screen and filtered the image so that the red from the rose jumped right off the screen.
Wham bam done. My masterpiece.
I remember thinking I was going to have so many people “like” my photo. I was sure of it. I even had a moment where I thought maybe, just maybe, it would be such a huge hit that it would become an Instagram sensation.
If my buddy can post a picture of a deer with laser rays coming out of it’s eyes and get thousands of likes I was positive this piece of art would be a success. I confidently posted my picture and waited for the love to come in.
This is the part of my article where if I had an audio portion you would hear crickets chirping. I got nothing.
Not one single “like”. Not one single comment. Both of which, or lack there of, reinforced a deep routed core belief, that I’m not good enough.
I had grand hopes of being validated with your “likes” and I failed. I failed miserably.
But that’s not all. I then criticized my work and myself. Nobody will ever like a talentless loser like myself. I was using Instagram to feed my low self worth.
I went back and took another look at my friends picture and couldn’t believe that he had so many “likes”. Seriously? A deer with a bright light coming out of it’s eyes?
I couldn’t contain my low self worth any longer and posted a comment on his picture “look out for the laser ray coming out of his eyes!”. Insert shake of the head here. There was nothing nice nor funny about that comment. It was meant to be mean and nock him down a notch and it was very childish of me.
You see I couldn’t handle my friends success because I felt inferior and insecure in my own skin. I was jealous of all of his “likes”.
My mentor and I call it one-upping. It’s a coping mechanism that I learned as a kid to make me feel better about myself when I’m feeling “less than”. It’s when I make a not so nice comment about someone in attempt to make me feel better about myself. It’s not healthy so I do my best today to avoid it.
I share all of this with you because shortly after my failed experiment I took myself off of Instagram. I realized I wasn’t grounded in reality when I was on there so to break the spell I went on a self imposed hiatus.
Instagram had become toxic to my mental wellbeing. It created feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. A “like” was never going to be enough to make me feel loved and accepted. I was looking for validation in all the wrong places.
Once the dust settled (and I could see clearly again) I remembered that self love and self acceptance come from within not from a “like”.
Have a great day!