For the past three years, the most superficial moments of my life have been stored in the servers of Meta. Posting on Instagram has consumed me. And I’ll be the first to admit that my proclivity to cook up a profile full of luscious landscapes, crafted candids and wistful waterfalls feeds into the illusions of social media. But after listening to the auspicious lectures of those who live a grand life free of social media, I have finally accepted the daunting future that is my life on a screen. In fact, I am starting to appreciate all my Instagram presence has taught me.
My first encounter with the obsession of capture started in May of 2021. It was a post-pandemic summer. Masks stuffed in every pant pocket. Everything was open and closed at the same time. You get the gist. In my mind, I had a general feeling of “what now”? The roads returned to their clotted state so I couldn’t take my normal walks on Hattertown road and route 25 as I once did. School had ended on a weird note partly because most of my friends opted for a “google meet” attendance. And my pandemic hobby of sourdough breadmaking faded into one of my past fads. It was also around that time I became deeply acquainted with a reflex to take pictures — the morning shadows that danced on the drywall of my bedroom ceiling, a clover field by my house my dog Rudy would sunbathe in, and the odd cloudscape that graced the sky that July 8th. Back then, my photos came from an urge to uncover the sublime amidst the mundane.
And sure I enjoyed the occasional compliment of my new shirt or haircut but I never was one to show off per se. So I really can’t figure out what motivated me to start posting on Instagram that summer.
To this day I still whip out my phone at every dying sunset, patch of goldenrod, and snow-filled pine. I still cause my hands to reach a numbing stiffness as I punch at the white circle on my screen while hurling down a ski slope or sticking my hand out of a car window. But why? Why am I obsessed with such a torturous, and let’s be honest, vain hobby of capturing photos for my Instagram feed?
I guess there is something to be said for learning to seek out beauty amidst periods in life that reach a lull. Posting the instances that bring me the most joy (even if they are not representative of my day-to-day life) has led me to seek out those moments in a greater capacity. I admit It’s a prolific cycle. And I recognize this sounds quite contradictory coming from someone who reaches for his phone instead of relishing in a particular moment.
I would like to also make the case that my obsession with photo taking, deleting, debating and posting has given me a clearer view of how I unconsciously want myself to be perceived. Every diverse cityscape, mountain, and scenery I share shows that I am a well-traveled and adventurous type. Or so I like to think. I have the power of choice. I choose the hike in Kent Falls and the trip to Montreal that you see on my feed. And although I do not directly cause you to regard me in any higher standard, I certainly push you in the direction of my illusion — that I have the “ideal” lifestyle.
Instagram has become a tool to craft my self-image; the way I want myself to perceive my life and the way I want you to see me. I can’t abandon it because, in a villainous way, it gives me control of my fleeting perception.
My conflicting digital experiences aside, I still urge you to document or capture the moments in your life that you find beautiful — whether that be the table setting of your birthday dinner or the night walk you took with your parents during a full moon. Take a mental note, write down a few words, start a scrapbook, or (and tread carefully now) follow in my footsteps and become an idealistic Instagrammer.
As a long-time Instagram user, it is satisfying to reveal my internal quarrels to you. But I must confess, I will continue to chase the illusion I perpetrate and capture.