Hey, go like my instagram.
So many a teen have sent or received this text. Whether it be our newest “insta,” Facebook profile picture, or tweet, we are always checking the hearts, likes and favorites, when we should be using social media for our own self-expression.
I think we all know we shouldn’t care. But social media has become a monster. We’ve self-created so many rules that people don’t feel safe to post on their own accord. Friends send around pictures before posting (which filter is better?), ask for help on captions, even check “ratios” of likes per minute. We worry about not only what to post, but when to post too–yes, there is apparently a “prime time” to get the most likes.
As a ridiculous article (surprisingly enough, posted by Vogue) called The Instagram Rules: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Boring so rudely states: “If your picture doesn’t get more than eleven likes, you need to take it down because it sucks.” Wow. It seems the need for attention and approval online has spread beyond teens and into the lives of many, even into a supposedly elegant and mature magazine.
If you obsess over how much people “like” your content, you decide what to post based on if you think others will like it, not based on if you like it. This makes you lose sight of who your social media is supposed to represent–yourself. Instead of trying to fit the mold of what other people want to see, we need to be able post whatever, whenever, we want–as long as the content is legal, of course–without feeling anxiety or stress. This whole thing is supposed to be fun, right?
People should be able to visit your page and see your personality, your interests, your adventures, your non-adventures and your quirks. If you took a picture of your 13-year-old, slightly crusty, but entirely lovable cat, and you love it, share it! Everyone’s pictures do not have to be posed, planned, and perfectly edited, because that’s just unrealistic. Everyone’s different, and everyone’s page should mirror that.
It can be incredibly hard to not care what people think of your posts, especially because as scared as we may be to not be liked, it feels great when we are. It definitely makes us happy to get a “like” from someone who we think is really cool, and satisfying to see our numbers climb as we reload our posts. But if we allow ourselves to obsess over these feelings, we give others the power to control our own happiness, and that’s not a healthy place to be.
It’s time to take back control and post whatever makes you happy. Here’s the only rule you have to follow: Don’t overthink it.