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?

IT’S BECAUSE YOU’RE BEING TRICKED!

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.←

 

83 Comments

  1. Lesley says:

    No smart phone = no Instagram. Easy peasy.

    • Oh baby — you hit it on the HEAD !! I don’t even own a cell phone! Nor do I have cable [YES I live in suburbia]. We don’t bother with news programs because they tell us what to be mad at TODAY — waste of time. I waste ENOUGH time on the internet as it is! Easy peasy, you said it !!

  2. Linda says:

    I love pom-poms and do have some! But yes, fall into the loser category described. I think TV sit coms cause the same problem, as a child I couldn’t understand why house/family/school wasn’t like as shown on TV.

    • Karen says:

      The difference is sitcoms are “entertainment”. Fake. Instagrammers are real people so it can be confusing for our little brains, lol. But I completely understand what you mean about sitcoms! 🙂 ~ karen!

  3. Caryl Hodgdon says:

    OMG I was just about to get nasty and say “but that’s what you do”! Then I got to Barbara Bush on crack, peed my pants a little while laughing and remembered the real you! You are the queen of all things domestic, artistic, stylish, craftish (?) and best of all you make me lsugh-often. Thanks

  4. Kmarie says:

    This is exactly what I needed. I was literally thinking all angsty Instagram thoughts (of if I should go off but also it does fill something good too at times) and this post put humour and words to my inner existential insta crisis . Lol . Sometimes it’s nice not to be alone in musings and to have someone funny make it less serious then my typical overly thinking serious brain makes it out to be … thank you.
    Sincerely

    • Karen says:

      Hey! You’re welcome. It really is great for inspiration just take it all with a grain of salt Or box of salt. Or a salt lick. ~ karen!

  5. Peter says:

    I liked the video on how to kick start your dead Ryobi battery mixed in the blob text.

  6. Lisa says:

    You’re real… and great… and really great. Thanks, I needed that.

  7. Thank you Karen for a dose of reality!
    Even the word ‘influencer’ sets my teeth on edge.

    I actually remember the before the days of email when I truly was climbing up the top of Pyramids, hiking the high peaks of the Himalayas and stalking rhino and tiger atop an elephant! (I might have a photo of that one someplace…
    But my feet aren’t in it)!
    Ha!

  8. One of the reasons I LOVE your blog is because YOU and the content YOU present is REAL! Keep it up girl, real is what this world is desperate for and sooooo lacking!

  9. Debra Prince says:

    Barbara Bush on crack at a hoe down!!! Best laugh of my day so thanks. I am not on Instagram or even Twitter so I am pretty safe from the I’m a Loser syndrome. But I do have Facebook which, I guess, is only mildly annoying when it involves someone’s lunch and pretty good for keeping up with friends far away.

  10. Caroline Whittaker says:

    I get irritated by the word ‘influencer’, but I don’t feel any angst when I scroll through Instagram, maybe because I don’t follow many ‘influencers’. I follow A LOT of cats /kittens and also artists (because I’m trying to learn how to paint). When I post a photo it’s BECAUSE it looked great, not that I made it look great in order to take an Instagram photo. I post photos of my paintings because I want to see if anyone likes them or has comments (obviously only interested in those from real people, rather than bots). Ultimately, you only have to see a Celeste Barber post to get a dose of reality!

  11. MaryEllen says:

    You’re HILARIOUS 😆. I will however be looking for the hanging bras in your posts from now on!

  12. I’m sorry but that’s outrageous.

    Bra’s go on the bedknob not the doorknob!

    • Karen says:

      You’re absolutely right! While I would normally agree, I’ve been known on occasion (every single day) to snap at about 7 o’clock at night and wriggle out of it no matter where I happen to be in the house. Nearest doorknob gets it. ~ karen!

  13. Suzanne Heslep says:

    You are a rare woman…beauty, loads of talent, and wonderfully authentic!
    I can’t recall how I came to be familiar with your blog but every time I read it, it’s like a breath of fresh air!
    You doing life, epic or fail is what bonds your readers to you…that is the realness we connect with.
    Thanks for you just doing you!

    • Kristen says:

      Suzanne, I’m sorry that your experience has been that it is rare to find a woman who has beauty, loads of talent, and is wonderfully authentic. I’ve found that most of the women I’ve met have been beautiful (in many different ways), talented (again, in many different ways), and authentic (all in their own way). Although we haven’t met, I expect you’re one of them!
      And it can be difficult sometimes, but I try to remember that I too am beautiful, talented, and authentic. 🙂

  14. Jenny W says:

    …aaand this is why I follow you, both here & on the Gram 🙂

  15. ecoteri says:

    I have given up on Instagram. for some reason, it is optimized for smartphones. I don’t use the inter web on my phone, so Instagram drives me crazy ( as does facebook) . what happened to thing in order? If I try to look at my facebook feed, it force-feeds me what some stupid algorithm thinks is what I want. same with instagram. I don’t even bother with IG on my computer (and don’t ‘do’ it on my phone) because the algorithms used aren’t working for me. sorry to sound grumpy, but can I please have my world presented in a timeline that makes sense to me, rather than curated by some stupid AI bot?
    OK, RANT MODE MOSTLY OFF ((except I let all caps take over))

    • PegB says:

      I totally agree. I think IG is worse since the IG traitors sold out to FB. FB censorship is a problem and it seems they brought to IG. Accounts are being shuttled so far back I quit looking because when I do find them it is from 4 days previous. I don’t think real people are in charge anymore; AI has taken over. It may be the newest Frankenstein.

      • Audrey says:

        Yes! Nice to know I’m not the only one who is totally frustrated by Facebook (I have never even tried Instagram). Seems like every time I want to go back to a post to read it again, it has disappeared, and I have kept my Friends list to a minimum. Or I click on something and end up somewhere else and can’t get back to the post I was on….grrrrr!
        I read Karen religiously, but the comments are also a big draw!!

  16. Sherry (BTLover2) says:

    I’m case I haven’t said in awhile… I love you!

  17. Lynn says:

    You know, I know someone like those pictures you described and oddly, I don’t like her that much because she’s like that.

    And this is as close as I get to social media (well, plus a neighborhood site) because I Have A Life! And enjoy it.

    Thank you for the vote in favor of reality!

  18. Jeanne Boardman says:

    Best thing all day….Barbara Bush at a hoe down!

  19. Rebecca says:

    I think this could be said about Facebook as well. All my friends seem to have perfect children who attend or are attending college, jobs they love with managers who praise their work daily, and friends who take three or four fabulous trips a year. The dinners out almost every night with their adoring “hubby” is the norm for them.
    Meanwhile in my reality, my daughter, her boyfriend, and their very hairy fur babies moved back home. My last trip was to the market, adoring hubby, nope.
    I actually found myself sinking into a depression because my inadequacy according to FB friends.
    Thanks for keeping your blog real Karen. For those of us with weeds in the garden, you’re a breath of fresh air.

  20. Suz says:

    The destruction of public and private properties in the name of getting that perfect shot…..it makes me want to weep. Holiday pictures that involve the death of flowers that got stomped, memorials that got stood on while people smirked at their cameras….even animals that died from being handled. We are so self centered and disingenuous. I know, I am ranting. Sorry. Hit a nerve there.

    • Audrey says:

      I’m with you, Suz. Self-centered was a good word.
      So many people seem totally unaware of their surroundings and the consequences of their actions. I don’t think they are disingenuous because that would imply a certain amount of self-awareness 😉
      Got a kick out of Karen’s post though, as well as the comments!

  21. LOVE it! And love you! I am one of the perpetrators…. sort of. Like you said, it’s my farm, my chickens, me… but sort of a cleaned up version most of the time. I don’t purposely choose the angle that highlights ALL the chicken poop, I’ll use some natural lighting to create a “pretty” version of my life. But do I shovel snow in a cute sweater and my Hunter boots. HELL no! I’m bundled up with just my eyes peering out from under my cowl. (That I did handknit btw).

    So I get what you’re saying.

    I also know that the “influencer” with the perfect corner shot of her kitchen showcasing her KitchenAid and LeCreuset likely has all the crap that’s normally on her counter stacked in the other corner.

    But I like pretty. That’s why I like Instagram because it inspires me and gives me ideas and is generally a far happier, prettier place than Facebook. I think we all need a little pretty, but we all also need a dose of reality for sure.

    SO… if anyone doesn’t have enough chicken poop in their life, by all means follow me. @fresheggsdaily and I’m for sure going to keep following you.. and I”m holding you to hanging bras on your doorknobs. Look forward to that.

    • Karen says:

      Perpetrators unite! I’ll show mine if you show yours. 😉 ~ karen!

    • sera says:

      Funny how I can take a photo of my kitchen counter with my cool kitchen aid from an angle that doesn’t show that the bowl is filled with plastic produce bags. I feel like I’m inspired to take close ups of whatever I want and then do the wide shot of my kitchen mess.
      and you’ll never see a photo of my living room filled with my daughter’s legos. They are everywhere.

  22. Eileen says:

    New word to me, influencer. I influence me, no one else and I’m fine with it. This social media is getting a lot sickening. Everything seems to be a competition. Thanks for bringing it down to earth, where it belongs…..or further down,,,,like buried.

    My facebook includes about 25 people, relatives and a few friends and LOTS of doggie photos.

    Gee, I sound boring. Oh, well.

  23. Alison Allen says:

    Wow! Thank you Karen. I needed that post this morning!!

  24. Joyce says:

    Don’t have FB or insta or or…I tell people it is because I am in the FBI Witness Protection Program and because I am a really good liar, most believe me.
    My life is pretty boring. The son and his pregnant ( very) wife, dog and cat are staying with us until they find a house. We have chickens who peck people, demand treats and poop; dogs who bark a lot.
    I mostly don’t wear a bra; with all the layers I wear in the winter, who would know?
    I am waiting till fun stuff starts and the statute of limitations runs and then maybe FB. In the meantime I have a Dr appt so have to find a bra

  25. Carlee says:

    Ha! This is great and so true. Social media does have a way of being both inspirational and feeding the green envy monster.

    • Rebecca Holt says:

      So true. That’s kind of what I was eluding to in my post. I think I was in a way feeling envious because my circle of friends seemed perfect.

  26. Mary W says:

    It’s not Valentines Day yet, but I LOVE YOU!!!! I loved that the first thing I did while sipping my first coffee was spit it out laughing. No one is more brilliant than you describing your hair as inner Barbara Bush. LOVE YOU!!! Just pulled all the ripe grapefruit off my tree and made several batches of marmalade with kumquats and tangerines which made me feel Instagramish until I look at the 10 huge bags of fresh grapefruit sitting outside (cooler) on my steps since I can’t give them away as everyone I know takes Atorvastatin for cholesterol and can’t eat grapefruit anymore. So there the lovely free bags of juicy native grapefruit sit – I can’t use that photo for anything but a science project studying the life cycle of magots. AND the plastic bags don’t match!

  27. jen says:

    There are only a very few times when looking at the curated lives of Instagram influencers makes me feel like shit, but I often think “why am I not more interesting/active?” when actual people I know post stuff about where they’ve been or what they’re doing. But then I remind myself that those people are not posting their everyday detritus like I do and I feel better.

  28. Kimberly says:

    I think Hoe Down Barbara Bush needs to be everyone’s official aesthetic for 2019.

  29. Diane Amick says:

    And see, what I seem to get from Instagram is everyone on the planet aspires to have one of the ALL WHITE farmhouses set in a field of climbing roses with white fences and horses. Not me in any way, shape, or form. I’m sick to death of all white everything. Boring beyond words. And farmhouses…don’t get me wrong, I adore Joanna Gaines. But…I don’t need or want shiplap in every room. Please…bloom where you are. Develop your own look and style. I have grasscloth walls, black and white photography art, oriental tapestries shredded at the bottom, big brown furniture that hasn’t been painted…yet…and one only crystal chandelier over a traditional double pedestal dining table straight from the furniture store 38 years ago. But love it I do.

    • Cheverly says:

      Exactly this! My house is all shiplap (built in 1920) so I’m stuck there, but the whole painting EVER. Y. THING white and then oooh, look at that “pop” of black… how daring!

      :eye roll:

      So over it. I need color! and pattern! and texture! It’s why I love Karen’s house so much, and yours sounds fabulous too.

  30. Deb Wostmann says:

    You are hysterical. Thanks for the early Monday morning laughs and for being so genuine. I’ll know I have solidarity if I happen to post a less than magical instagram post.

  31. Sandra Miller Pitts says:

    Oh my goodness! I am laughing out loud. Barbara Bush on crack at a hoedown….the picture of your new hairdo……..perfection. I am laughing just remembering the visual. Your the best.💕

  32. Marilyn Meagher says:

    Hahahahaha. Hilarious. I’m not on Instagram and I can’t really hang my bras anywhere where people might see them because they are so big that people always want to put them on their heads. Yeah. I know. I have big breasts and yeah I know it fits your head. Yada yada

  33. 4a.m. from Vancouver USA says:

    It’s all a rather large staged event to scoot viewers into ditching what we have to buy what the latest thing/trend happens to be. It’s hard not to resist the idea. But then you can search and run across The Art of Doing Stuff and see what is real and helpful in addition to a dose of early a.m. comedy. THANK YOU KAREN!!!

  34. judy says:

    I hesitate to bang the old person drum again but Karen your post connects to an aspect of life in the 21 century that worries me for the future. i e the disconnection of humans from one another with the use of texting-how do you look in someones eyes and know that you are loved or liked or tediously boring if you are pressing buttons on an electronic device? Also so many live inside the car- the house- the stores or online and it may contribute to the dissociation from our beautiful world and what some of us are doing to adversely affect its’ future. I know you attract followers of a much smarter more informed and responsible mindset. If this next generation does not get out of all of its man made enclosures and know their planet enough to save her -as storms increase in destructive force, fires destroy and food supplies are impacted due to these events-violence will ensue and all of this can be prevented by the collective will,voice and demand that change must happen today-or tomorrow’s effort will be 10 times more difficult. Obviously delete this if it isn’t appropriate,and thanks for being such a bright light in the world.You teach,entertain and make us laugh. You are unique- so happy I found you

  35. Debbie says:

    First of all, door knobs were invented so we could hang our bras on them.

    Secondly–I don’t tweet, instagram, and maybe once every four years, do Facebook. Not being tied to a cell phone is so much better for me, my environment, etc. Life is much simpler. Now if I could get rid of that Ben Watson person who sends me emails about making my penis longer (even though I don’t have one), has money for me in some undiscovered account (even though I don’t have one), my emails would be much simpler too!

  36. Carla says:

    I just LOVE you! Thank you! Your stories of when things weren’t so good inspired me greatly as I struggle through similar circumstances.

  37. CJ says:

    For me IG is like Twitter. I don’t get it, therefore I don’t use it. I cannot understand the appeal of either.

  38. Rose says:

    Thanks for the reminder. I knew I liked you.

  39. Karen says:

    Loved this post and actually cried while laughing at the Barbara Bush comment! Thanks so much for making my Monday morning!

  40. Renee Strange says:

    That much skin requires a spray tan – LOL, I think your production team can do that with a photo app. Thanks for the laugh, I needed that.

  41. 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.

  42. cussot says:

    Your hair curls GOOD.

  43. 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!

  44. 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!

  45. Katie says:

    You are an absolute delight. Period.

  46. 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.

  47. Maghie says:

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

  48. 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!

  49. Karen,
    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.

  50. 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.

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