Who Are You Without Instagram?

A critical analysis of human behavior through the lens of social media as a means to shift a very normalized and common perspective to a perspective that is unpopular or obscure.

There is this thing about social media that I’ve grown to hate. It’s that nothing is real. The trends are there and the people follow. Self-care is done as a performance, depth is shown through the quotes of a book you’ve never read, and your said ‘knowledge’ is learned through memes so you can participate in the woke nigga Olympics and beauty is shown through an expensive camera, carefully chosen pictures & a filter to show your ‘perfection’- followed by (insert Alex Elle quote) a writer that you don’t follow. A book that you’ve never purchased.

this is a virtual reality. a distraction. nothing but performers, and the audience. I want to walk out, I do- but I’m like the person peeking behind the curtain, wondering, can I do what the performers do? the ones that get the standing ovation? the ones that get the fans? but the only thing I know how to be is myself- not a brand. not a type. not a category. I mean like fuck, I’m exhausted.

Aren’t you tired ?

But it’s all still a contradiction isn’t it?

 I wrote this in the way that I usually write everything – which is out of complete rage, passion, or compulsion. I don’t think there has been much critical writing on the way that social media is shaping our lives and our livelihood. I tried to encompass all of my frustrations into that writing, but I decided I need to elaborate on them with more examination and cogitation.

” Self care is done as a performance…”See the source image

I am ecstatic and excited that women, especially black women are engaging in self care, which I believe is radical, powerful, and uplifting. Self care is something that I’ve never made space for or have even been taught how to do. More often that not, black women aren’t afforded the time or the luxury of  engaging in self care. When I say that self care is done as a performance, I am making reference to the people with photographs of the flowers in a tub on their page, and the exaggerated perpetuation of ‘happiness’ and ‘positivity’ through those photos. I think this excessive expression of ‘self love’ through superficial acts of self-development can be dangerous. Self love/care is a journey that requires healing, introspection, and practice. I think it is falsely represented through social media as something that is easily tangible. A womans’ healing and self-development is nothing that comes easy. It is intense emotional labor and difficult sacrifice. It is the break-downs before the break-throughs, it is morning prayers, it is overdue apologies to ourselves, and to our bodies, it is the agreement to live beyond the comfort of pain, insecurities, and relentless fear,it is bravery, it is discipline, it is a decision to love yourself wholly.

We live in an age where ‘positivity’ is forced down your throat, and the intention is good but the result is not. I think we lose our ability to feel and relate when pain, suffering, and imperfection is looked down upon. It denies us of our realities of mental health struggles, and life’s unpredictable trials; And what I find interesting is that this exists in and outside of social media, because of social media. In other words, whatever lifestyle you are portraying on social media, you have to keep up with it outside of social media, thus it becoming performative and disingenuous.

“Your said ‘knowledge’ is learned through memes so you can participate in the woke nigga Olympics..”

Yeah, I said it. I am drained by the plagiarism and regurgitation of information for the purpose of seeming intelligent. I think that when people ignorantly engage in socio-political debates or conversations in subjects that they are not well-versed in, but do it anyway, they reduce the work that real activists and researchers do; To just participate without any real objective other than to feed your ego and to reinforce that you are ‘smart’, is damaging and counterproductive.Blog Photo-Powerful Women

“…Beauty is shown through an expensive camera, carefully chosen pictures & a filter to show your ‘perfection’..”

The pressure to look a certain way is disheartening. I have felt it. I still do, and I think it’s detrimental to the well being and self-esteem of the young women who are growing up in this age. The teenagers that I see now, look like grown ass women and that scares me for many reasons. I am scared to raise a daughter in a world where she will feel that her self-worth and beauty is defined by the amount of likes she gets on a photo. I want the feeling of inadequacy to escape me fully, so that I never feel the pressure of needing to be more, or less, ever again. I have found flaws I never even knew were there, because of the bombardment of ‘perfection’ images on social media. I never even cared that my teeth weren’t bright white, but now I do, I never cared that my stomach wasn’t board flat, but now I do, I never knew my butt wasn’t big enough, but now I know.

The idea we have of our own appearance has been distorted, at least honestly it has been for me. I rarely look at myself through a camera without a filter- and when I do, I’m like “who the hell is this?” and I put on a filter on it to feel better. Wow, we live in a crazy time.Blog Photo Child Praying

“…followed by (insert Alex Elle quote) a writer that you don’t follow. A book that you’ve never purchased”

I have been ITCHING to write on this. Okay, so boom- you wanna seem deep so you find yourself a deep caption, cool. But what we’re not gon’ do is, take writers’ work without citing/crediting them. As a writer when someone takes my work without permission, and/or doesn’t credit me, it is as though you are passing it off as your own. Being a writer is a struggle already, visibility is important to us. I know people who say they love this poet and this poet, and yet have only read their work on Instagram. Do you really love this writer if you’ve never actually purchased their work? P.S. I always see when y’all steal my shit, and it sucks.

I remember in one day two people who had 20K+ followers stole my poetry and used it as a caption without crediting me. I think the insult is that you felt you really didn’t need to. You can’t love the writing and not value the writer.

“I want to walk out, I do- but I’m like the person peeking behind the curtain, wondering, can I do what the performers do? the ones that get the standing ovation? the ones that get the fans?”

I enjoy social media and not just for the good parts. I like looking on TheShadeRoom, I like looking at the ‘picture perfect’ girls holding tea bags, I don’t know why, I just do, and I find myself wondering like, “how much do she get paid for posting herself in this Fashion Nova fit”, and “wow, her life must be lit, gettin’ all this free shit sent to her”, and “maybe I need to up my followers so I can get some free shit too”, and then I realize I’m never going to be like them, because I’m going to be like me.

This pressure to be a ‘brand’, pulls us further and further away from our spirit, and closer and closer to our ego. This ‘branding’ draws us deep into a superficiality that hurts us by making us believe we are this way, and this thing.

I am constantly reminding myself to stay true to who I am because the alternative is an internal conflict of turmoil and lifelessness.

“I mean like fuck, I’m exhausted. Aren’t you tired?”

Living for your ego, is a lot like constantly trying to prove yourself – to yourself- to others, that you are great, talented, worthy, funny, cool, and your attitude is so “I don’t give a fuck”, that you’re numb to anything worthy of feeling.

I thought that what I wanted was to be this perpetuated image of attraction and *goals*, and when I started thinking that, I started losing me. It is a tiresome thing to live to please others. It is a tiresome thing to stare at pictures for 10 minutes to figure out which one to post. It is a tiresome thing to sit around thinking of a “good caption”. It is a tiresome thing to ask your friends which fucking filter you should use. And I say this angrily, because I have lost so much time and energy trying to be something I’m not, and I still see people trying to be this thing.

I came home to myself…and it is the best thing I have ever done.

1 Comment

  1. Awesome post.. I feel similarly about alot of this and I’m a guy lol.
    I like your writing Lakota lol, you might not remember me but we went to Parliament Place Elementary together, my name’s Shamari a.k.a NikoLion.
    We was in 4th grade together and 5th i think, with Jesse Perkins, Nick, Rovina, Ranique, and some more. I remembered you not long ago and thought I’d check you out, I’m also an Artist and an Author. Definitely dig your style 😲

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