How Instagram Is Tricking You into Thinking You’re a Loser.

Does browsing through Instagram leave you feeling like your life took a terrible, terrible turn at some point?

Mine doesn’t. I mean look at me. My life is FANTASTIC.

You thought you were doing alright but as it turns out, your husband is a loser, your kids the spawn of South Park and your house looks like a centrefold for the latest issue of  You’re such a loser and you have such bad taste.  The shame you must carry around.

You, your life, and your family are all an embarrassing failure.  You know this for a fact because …

… Instagram.

Case in point.

At Christmas you did not, even ONCE, get the whole family in matching footie pajamas to gather on your bed to play board games and eat popcorn while laughing maniacally.  Didn’t.  Happen. Once.

In the fall you didn’t walk through an apple orchard with perfectly tousled hair while holding your bearded husband’s hand. And even if you did who the hell was going to be behind you and happen to take a picture of the event as it unfolded at sunrise??

Also, I’m not going to tell anyone, but I happen to know for a fact that you don’t own anything with pom poms on it.

And your vegetable garden actually has weeds.  Loser.

None of this would have bothered you one bit in your LBI (life before Instagram) but now it eats at you.  You wanna know why it eats at you?


Here’s why what we see on Instagram can send us into a tailspin.

When you flip through a magazine you know that you’re looking at ads that have been produced.  When you watch a tampon commercial with some woman dancing through a field of lavender while holding a puppy high over her head you know it’s fake.  It’s an advertisement. You know there was a photographer, a lighting specialist, hair, makeup – it was a whole production.  This woman doesn’t routinely dance in puppy-filled lavender fields.  She’s working. She’s an actress or a model or if the ad is particularly low budget, maybe the wife of the producer’s loan shark.   Her job is to create whatever tampon fantasy the advertiser wants her to.  We don’t believe this is her real life.

But with Instagram we do.

Because it kind of is real life.  Bloggers, influencers, even average people are “just being themselves” on Instagram. So it’s easy to get roped into the belief that this is them.  In turn it’s easy to become depressed over your life and anxious that you’re not living up to the potential you could.  YOU could be vacationing in a fantastically appointed castle atop a palm tree covered mountain on a remote island no one’s ever heard of.  With an INFINITY POOL!!!  But you’re not.  You’re at home washing sippy cups or planning your next big trip to the dentist.

Are they real people these bikini wearing, hand holding, pumpkin spice latte drinking apparitions of Instagram?  Yes.  Are they being themselves?  Not entirely.  They’re portraying themselves, – their brand – which is very different.

We perceive the matching pajama wearing Instagram life as real life even when we know it isn’t – because it’s real people. They’re just better people than we are.  Right?

Wrong.  Obviously.  Even when we smartly and astutely understand that these Instagram photos by bloggers and influencers are staged and fake and not even close to being a representation of how they actually live or look we sometimes can’t help ourselves from wondering where it all went wrong for us.

I get the same feeling scrolling through Instagram and I’M ONE OF THE PERPETRATORS. I try to be realistic about what I show on Instagram. It’s really my house. It’s really my garden. It’s really me.  But a tiny bit better sometimes.  A tiny bit better is usually achieved by editing the photos as opposed to my life.

Do I clean myself up for Instagram pictures?  Sometimes, not always. But when I do, I clean myself up or tidy the house the same way I would if someone was coming over for dinner.  So I’ll take the half eaten bowl of dried oatmeal off the coffee table and brush my hair. I’m kind of  lackadaisical about having my bras hanging off of doorknobs so you might see some of those in my photos and definitely in my Instagram stories.

The picture of me with the apples up at the top of the post?  That’s not me. Why the hell would I be picking apples in a vintage floral dress.  Even if I was, why would I plop myself down on the grass with an artfully arranged basket of apples and grin like a simpleton up at a camera (that just magically appeared over my head?)

But did I share that photo on Instagram?  YOU BET I DID.  LOOK HOW CUTE I LOOK!  Like Cameron Diaz only cuter.

It got 511 likes.

But I also shared these pictures of that time I watched a YouTube hair curling tutorial and thought I’d end up looking like Charlize Theron …


… but ended up looking like Barbara Bush on crack at a hoe down.


Guess what?  This photo?  It got twice as many likes.  Over a thousand.

I still want to see and put up inspirational photos on Instagram. If I only wanted to see real life I’d just walk through the grocery store on a Tuesday.  And I don’t blame bloggers or influencers for using Instagram the way they (we) do. It’s part of the business and those perfect photos are very attractive to a lot of people and a lot of sponsors.  It’s what Instagram IS. It’s a platform for sharing beautiful photos.  You’ll find “realer” stuff in the Instagram Stories – the videos.

Instagram photos inspire me, motivate me and sometimes yes … irritate and anger me. You too?  K.

That’s when you have to stop and remember the tampon lady.  She’s not real.  And neither is a lot of what’s on Instagram. As long as you remember that you can enjoy Instagram instead of getting angry at it. Or your life. Or your throw pillows that don’t match.

So while you’re scrolling thorough your favourite social media feeds this week wondering why your living room doesn’t have pom poms or your husband doesn’t want to heft you over his head in the middle of a pumpkin patch like all the other Instagram husbands do, remember … behind every Cameron Diaz there’s a Hoe Down Barbara Bush.

With her bra hanging off of a doorknob somewhere out of sight.


→Follow me on Instagram where I plan to make doorknob bra spotting a thing.←


How Instagram Is Tricking You into Thinking You\'re a Loser.


  1. Renee Ryz says:

    I pinched pennies, and used mason jars to store things way before it was “a thing” & homemade everything. I found even Pinterest can make you feel like that. I didn’t bake 27 dozen perfect cookies, or decorate my house to look like Vermont in the fall. But then I think – I raised two great kids that never got into trouble, both went to college, and have great jobs they enjoy, and have turned into the most thoughtful, sweet, responsible adults. THAT is my accomplishment. I’m not on IG or FB, but if so, my non-matched unorganized stuff would show they are all covered in cat hair, and I don’t care. That is why you are the only blog I follow aside from one baking one. You make us laugh, you inspire us to try new things, all with no judgement. You are the pal I wish lived next door! Awesomesauce Karen, that’s what you are! And the rest of you, remember you are all “practically perfect in every way!”

  2. Elaine says:

    …. and this is why we love you, Karen! Just keep on being you!

  3. Georgia girl says:

    Facebook is evilness. Selling sad chumps a friend filled world that overlays the hate mongers and Russian democracy destroyers. Zuckerberg doesn’t care about you! He cares about money.
    Instagram is for vacuous vain people who can’t survive without feeling cuter or superior. Twitter spreads fake news and is destroying real journalism.
    What’s wrong with people these days? Just stop participating in social media and interact with the people around you.
    Oh wait does Karen’s blog fall into the category of social media? Well then I take that part back.

  4. The Little Matchgirl says:

    I don’t do Brag-Book or Insta-Brag.
    I get enough bragging listening to people at work and friends and acquaintances who brag. I would love to tape people sometimes and show them how really boring and boorish they are.
    Didn’t any of your mothers tell you, it’s ‘not nice to brag’ ?
    I was an international champion in a type of unique dancing; my mother would not allow me to count my trophies – that way I couldn’t brag or reply, when other kids asked how many trophies I had. Smart lady, Primrose.
    I feel sorry for the kids growing up on this stuff…. these are new types of addictions.
    Try to be humble and visit these sites only once in a while for your sanity and self preservation.

  5. Jen says:

    Please google “Instagram Husband.” It’s the greatest video….makes me laugh every time I watch it.

  6. Idaho Girl says:

    Sometimes I will go page through your Instagram to see if I’ve missed anything good (which I always have), but other than that… I don’t even follow my kids’ Instagrams.

    My vegetable garden doesn’t have any weeds though, so maybe I should start my own so I can be an ‘influencer’…

  7. Debbie says:

    What a great idea, bra’s on door knobs!

  8. Kyle Copeland Muse says:

    I just can’t get enough of crackhead Barb Bush, I’m lobbying so she gets her own show. Let’s brainstorm some names shall we? It makes me guffaw EVERY time I see it.

  9. ALLEN BROOKS says:

    We all need a little retouching. The older we get the greater the distance of what we really look like and what we think we look like. I know I’m 80.

  10. PegB says:

    Well, I found you on IG and you got me at your name. Who names their kid The Art of Doing Stuff? I knew I was going to like IG.

    I am not a black and white person, so I judge most accounts by how much color their squares show. Being mostly housebound (I am not a drunk, but sometimes wonder why not. Some of my meds make me feel that way) most of my photos are what I see from my windows or in good weather, my property.

    As for those perfect photoshoots? I mostly wonder how things look behind the photographer. Just sayin, ain’t nothing that perfect!

  11. Maghie says:

    Laughing so hard! Omg there is a stand up routine in there 😂🤣

  12. sera says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I think if one were to look at my Instagram page, one might think that I spend all my days drawing and cooking and baking because those are the only things I deem worthy of taking photos and posting to IG. The reality is that on the first real snow day of this season (I live in Seattle), I had to take the day off of work less because of the snow but mostly because they both canceled preschool and my daughter threw up all over me. Hooray. I took a photo of the beautiful snow with the caption, wish my daughter felt well enough to appreciate it. Only a couple of people even read the caption. Oh, the glamorous life.
    Sometimes I wish there were a way to post the reality of my life to IG, but it’s clear to me that most people don’t read the captions.
    I follow mostly artists at this point because I’m trying to learn how to draw. But now I’ll be looking for those bras on the door knobs on your feed. Lol. Thanks for the entertainment Karen!

    • PegB says:

      For me IG fuels my love of good photography. I photograph mostly nature with emphasis on sunsets and light and shadow shots. I have never bought anything on FB or IG, so I guess I am not easily influenced. I went to IG because so many of my friends quit FB for IG. Then IG dold to FB. We cannot win this takeover.

  13. Katie says:

    You are an absolute delight. Period.

  14. Angela says:

    This is the best thing I have read ALL YEAR! I swear, Karen, you and I were separated at birth. You are my soul sista! Barb Bush hair and all!

    You did forget to mention the white pants, though. The lady in the tampon commercial and her damned white pants! Come on!

  15. Kim Domingue says:

    I like you. Your sensible and funny. A Canadian “friend” from Apartment Therapy “introduced” you to me some time back. And while I no longer visit Apartment Therapy, I do still visit with you. When AT started going all Instagramy a couple of years ago, I jumped ship. They became, in many ways, the tampon model dancing through lavender fields holding a puppy over her head who, of course, did not pee all over her perfectly coiffed hair and perfectly made up face in unbridled puppy excitement. I’m pretty sure that, from you, we’d get the story about “Folks, this here is the reason you don’t hold a puppy over your head as you dance around in a field of lavender” with a photo of your puppy pee drenched head to prove your point, lol! Keep on keeping it real!

  16. cussot says:

    Your hair curls GOOD.

  17. Jacquie Gariano says:

    Add my love to all the others coming your way. I was drinking my morning tea and spit it all over my desk and moniter at the picture of you. OH well, it needed cleaning anyway. Keep it “you” real. that’s the way we all like it and why we look forward to your blog.

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The Art of Doing Stuff