By: Eve Nicholson-Smith
I’m doing the hourly mindless scroll, where the curated minutia of other people’s lives whirls past in the muted artsy shades of sepia and deceit.
Most often it’s when I’m nursing my eleven-month-old baby or after I’ve put her down for a nap and instead of doing something mentally stimulating or even mundanely productive, I slip into the anesthesia that is Instagram.
I wade through, half awake myself, and come across the familiar funny memes, some quotes written in loopy calligraphy, cacti upon cacti, and pictures of friends and strangers showing me (and the rest of the world) who they want to be. I go to the “Explore Page” after I’ve exhausted the new pictures in my feed and find more of the same.
Time to put down the phone, right? Pick up my paintbrush? Or my journal? Or even do the dishes? (I’m joking.)
But no. I can’t stop.
It’s not suspect at first scroll; in fact, it is a beautiful, easy-to-consume medium. As a new mom, I’ve got a lot of time where I’m at home, alone, unable to do a thing as I sit nursing my baby girl for hours a day, so I end up on the app more than I’d like to admit. It must be a common occurrence, though, because there are so many moms on Instagram.
And not just any everyday, run-of-the-mill moms. You know what I’m talking about; The Instagram Moms. Hundreds of thousands of followers, more natural light than a greenhouse, a couple fiddle leaf figs for good measure, and of course, the perfect bonneted cherubs.
Oh god it’s dangerous. Half the time I find myself imagining posting my own idyllic scenes featuring my baby and house and transforming my feed into a version of domestic bliss. The rest of the time, I’m comparing my life to these women with movie-mansions and modern concrete wonder homes in Maine. And guess what? I end up feeling less.
Less rich. Less stylish. Less creative. Less motivated. Just less.
But I keep coming back because of that mysterious combination of envy, hope, inspiration, optimism and greed. Instagram can be a good a place to share snapshots of your life with friends and family and Instagram momming can be a creative outlet as well as a seemingly endless source of inspiration.
But it is also a theatre for inconspicuous social judgement that fuels competition and poor self esteem. And it’s so addictive it hurts! Seriously, I think I’m going cross-eyed sometimes.
So what’s a woman to do? Delete the app? The last time I tried that I think it lasted for about 2 days. Plus then what would I DO with myself in those idle moments? (I guess that’s the point right? To sit with yourself, meditate, let the calm glow radiate from your peaceful mind? Yeah, right.)
What about giving myself time restrictions? Well, see previous success rate. Ok then, do I just say screw it and give in to my sometimes-fantasies of becoming an Instamom? Make my profile public, perfect my posts and see the likes (and maybe cash) roll in?
But no! I have to remind myself that would be all the worse. Obsessively checking my likes and followers, deleting ‘unflattering’ pictures of my baby, and witnessing her sweetness through a screen instead of in the flesh is the opposite of how I want to live and be with her.
That leaves me thinking that even if I am able to cut down on the time I spend on the app, I need to change something outside of it. Instagram isn’t the only source of dangerous comparisons. Facebook, advertisements, Hollywood movies and celebrity culture naturally all seep into our visions of what a happy life should look like… So cutting out one wouldn’t really do the trick now would it?
If these influences are unavoidable, then changing or starting a practice outside of them is a good place to start. My mom is always reading about Buddhist practices of presence and gratefulness and sharing them with me and my siblings. So inspired by them, for a start, I’m going to try to say or write down a few things every day that I’m thankful for or happy about.
At least then, when I’m perusing the white cupboards, natural fibres, humble-brag captions, homemade pies and no-baby-cries of these curated worlds, I will remember some of the things that make me happy about my life on the other side of the screen. Today’s are as follows.
My baby napping as I write this. (Naps! Hallelujah!)
Living a ten minute walk from my mom and seeing her every day.
Living in a country with Universal Health Care!
Seeing my sisters multiple times a week.
Tuesday nights when my sister Chloë babysits for my husband and I, and we go drink beer and eat french fries. (Now I’m just bragging, eh?)
The library and its programming for moms and babies. (Am I actually saying I’m thankful for singing ‘Tommy Thumbs’ on the weekly?!? WHO AM I???)
Having friends I can talk with about the above existential questions.
Spring coming? Maybe that one’s overly optimistic.
But that felt good! And you might say it’s just a way for me to convince myself that I’m ‘doing something’ while not actually changing the bad practice of looking at Instagram on the regular, but hey, I never said I was a perfect Insta-mom ok? Cut me some slack. Namaste.
Featured Image: Candice Swanepoel on Instagram
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