Dearest Instagram Follower,
Hey dude, thanks for the follow. I am glad you think I am cool enough to include me in your flurry of social media. Now that we are friends, I have a few questions for ya, I hope that’s ok. First off, what is it about me that makes me worthy of your follow?
Seriously, who am I to have 1,216 people following me? Total madness. That’s 1,204 more followers than Jesus had, and I can say with 100p confidence that Jesus was WAY cooler than I will ever be. Why are there more people requesting to follow a digital representation of my life than people requesting to be my real-life-in-person friend? What aspect of that digital grid of pictures has the power to capture your eye in a way that my genuine social qualities can’t accomplish? Why does the polished and VSCOed version of me seem more interesting than the daily life of Shanz? Truly, I can’t begin to answer.
Is it because you like me? Sure, I know you like me- well at least the “me” in my last selfie I posted. If we are being exact, 436 of you decided to like that version of me. But really, do you like me?
Do you like the way the hair by my ear curls, no matter how hard I try to straighten it?
Are you impressed by my utter lack of all athletic ability?
Do you like the way I cackle laugh when I think something is really funny?
Do you like the way my eyes are two different shades of blue?
Do you like the fact that I cry when I am stressed or that I blush whenever I am embarrassed?
Are you a fan of my above average dance moves?
Do you like the way I talk in my gru voice when I am bored?
Are you sympathetic of my struggles with anxiety?
Do you like my joy for life, and my love of God?
Really. I am truly wondering. What about me, got your like?
If we are both being honest here, it probably it wasn’t me at all. Maybe it was the perfectly filtered balance of C1, exposure, and brightness that made you decide my photo was aesthetically pleasing enough to throw me that double tap. Maybe my clever caption made you chuckle, or it was just relatable enough to let me know you are in the same boat. Perhaps you just blindly liked it while scrolling through your feed. Maybe you weren’t a fan of my picture at all, but you felt obliged to like it because you’re a true homie. Whatever the case, you liked my picture, and it very likely could have nothing to do with the smiling girl in the photo.
Regardless of why you double tapped, I want you to know your approval means a lot to me. In fact, it means way too much. I hate the fact that getting likes on Instagram gives me satisfaction. Why am I so dependent on the approval of 400 some people who decide to follow me on social media? I know for a fact that some of the people who consistently like my pictures have no desire to spend time with me, and don’t care enough about me to get to know me better than what they see on social media.
I wish I could unplug from the need to seek approval in Instagram likes. Instead of focusing on why and how we get likes, I think it would be a better use of our time to discern why those little red hearts mean so much to us. If I truly believed in -and was satisfied with- the boundless love of God, then the number of likes I get on a picture would be worthless to me. There is no need to impress God with our aesthetically pleasing profiles and all the perfect white backgrounds. In fact, God likes every picture of us: unedited, un-staged, without the clever caption. He looks at us in every moment and calls us Beloved because we are His handiwork. Each one of us were created to be exactly who we are, and we are all precisely where we are meant to be. When I am able to fully rest in that truth, I find more security and peace than any amount of Instagram likes could ever have the power to grant.
I am not saying that Instagram is the root of all evil, but I do think that when we realize that we were all meant to be celebrated exactly the way we are, we are obligated to be more honest and authentic on social media. It’s refreshing to see a post that reflects who you really are- it takes more courage to be authentic then it does to toss another edited bikini pic on the ‘gram. So, let’s ditch the skinnify apps, post more funny pics, and just be ourselves on Instagram, and in our everyday lives. If we were all a little more genuine, social media would feel a lot less like a competition and a whole lot more like a party.