Instagram makes me disappointed with my life

Instagram makes me disappointed with my life, and I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

Instagram is different to other social media in this way.

Twitter can be a source of toxic, lose-lose “debate”, but it can also be constructed in a way that creates productive discussion. As an educational tool, or an educational tool that sources other educational information, resources and mentors, Twitter has no equals.

Facebook is the Internet, for many people. It’s the first website or app they turn to when they access the Internet, and the last one before they close down. It’s a world within a world, with added advertising. Used proactively, it can be useful (although the news feed fosters reactive use, and the entire Facebook business model, built as it is around ads, is designed to make you and I use it reactively in a neverending downward scroll).

LinkedIn is about positioning for opportunities, no more, no less. It has become more and more like Facebook, taking what has worked on Facebook and trying to make it work on LinkedIn, but it’s still positioning for opportunities with the occasional stroke of genius standing out from the mass of quiet desperation.

Instagram is different than all of these.

Yes, it’s part of the Facebook ecosystem, so ads on Facebook can appear on Instagram too.

And it has the basic system in common with all other social media — it’s built exclusively on the combination of (1) user generated content and (2) the code that displays that content uniquely to each individual user.

But the whole experience is much different than other social media.

What Instagram makes me feel, more than any other social media, is disappointed with the reality of my own life.

Its array of beautiful images, with artfully and skilfully produced videos, and stories that allow us to tap side to side or swipe up for more, all of those insights into the very best moments of the lives of others appeal to our innate, species-old aspirations for a better life.

I have options.

1. To avoid Instagram entirely, and so avoid the feelings of disappointment in the reality of my life that invariably come when I open it.

2. To face up to those disappointments with an awareness of why I’m feeling what I’m feeling, and perhaps use those feelings as motivations to get better a little each day, and be confident that a little better each day adds up to a lot better before long.

Both of those choices are open to me.

I don’t know which one I will choose.

Maybe I will choose both, depending on the day that’s in it.