The Illusion of Instagram Happiness

Do you ever look at Instagram and think…Man, they are always having the time of their life! They always seem to be having fun and enjoying life while I’m stuck in a boring job, that I drove to in a boring car, so that I can sleep in a boring house, next to a boring person.

Okay you might not go that far, but I bet there has been a time or two where you compared your life to someone else’s on Instagram and ended up feeling like you were boring.

Not only do we compare our lives to others photos we can also chase their happiness.

For example…

You tried the same restaurant they posted about but you didn’t seem to smile as much as they did while they were there.

Or you saw their picture at the “happiest place on earth” but when you went you just did a bunch of sweating and waiting in long lines. How did you miss out on the happiness they posted about?

Or you saw their selfie at the gym but they didn’t sweat they glistened. You tried the same gym but you felt like everyone was staring at you for all the wrong reasons.

We so desperately want to be happy we will try to recreate other people’s pictures in our quest to find happiness.

It’s easy to start feeling like a loser when you compare your life to Instagram photos. Why does it seem that others are enjoying life while you’re enduring it?

Before you get too down on your life. I want to remind you of an important fact that I think often gets forgotten when you look at social media. You ready for it? Here it is…

Every picture was staged.

It’s a staged view of happiness. Don’t believe me. Think about this…What do we all say before we take a picture? “Smile.”

Why? Why do you have to tell people to smile if they are having the time of their life? Why do you have to tell people to smile if they are so happy?

What happens when a phone comes out for a picture? Everyone starts to smile or fix their hair or put their hand up to wait because they aren’t ready yet…for the staged photo.

We know that photos are staged but we forget it when we look at other people’s photos. We compare our real-time current life with a staged picture. It doesn’t help that we are on Instagram when we are bored or trying to kill time because it only reinforces our misguided view that life is passing us by.

I’m sure if I had the perfect angle, with the perfect props, and the perfect filter something about what you are doing right now would look cool and fun.

I went out to lunch with the staff this week to celebrate one of our teammate’s birthday. We had a great time and someone pulled out a phone to capture the moment. Of course, we all instinctively knew what to do…smile and act over the top happy. Why? Because that’s what you’re supposed to do when a phone comes out.

I remember looking at the post later and thinking… “Man, I was there and it was a lot of fun but I don’t remember it being that much fun!” It’s amazing what the right angle, with the right filter, and a bigger smile can do for your snapshot.

The next time you compare your “boring and unhappy” life to a picture remember it was staged…even if it was with a simple smile.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying it’s wrong to smile or get ready for a picture. No one wants to see pictures of sad people. I’m just saying every picture is staged.

Why is this such a big deal? Because when you feel like you are missing out you start looking for people to blame. You’ll blame your spouse, your kids, your parents, your boss, your self, or God for your unhappiness. You’ll think it’s their fault you don’t get to have or do what seems to be making everyone else so insanely happy.

Blaming yourself and others for something that isn’t even real is a guaranteed pathway to unhappiness.

The next time you’re on social media and start to feel discontent remind yourself…there is nothing wrong with you or your life except that you are comparing it to a staged picture. Give yourself a break. Give those you love a break. You are only seeing a staged picture.

Better yet put the phone down and be present with those who are present. You’ll experience real happiness with them.