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viewpoint

I am the problem

| Monday, November 11, 2019

I toggle back and forth, judging even the most minute differences in color quality with the utmost scrutiny. Finally, I settle on C6 — deeming it “perfect”, my fingers export the photo with a seemingly innate series of movements. Finding my creation in my Photo Library, I immediately add it to my Instagram story. Most of the time I’ll include the photo’s location with a meticulously placed geotag; occasionally, in the interest of evoking a sense of “mystery” I’ll leave the photo location-less. Rinse and repeat — the art of the Instagram story.

The vast majority of my interactions on social media resemble that of many college-aged girls: delicious food, fun moments from game days, time with friends, an amazing sunset picture I snapped on my walk around the lake, sights from my travels. All seemingly innocuous images that showcase my love for amateur photography. Completely harmless; all in good fun, right?

Wrong.

It’s a Thursday night. I’m sitting outside of South Dining Hall waiting for dinner with friends. It’s been a long day — hell, it’s been a long week. My mom hasn’t returned my calls, my Intermediate Micro exam was much harder than expected, I miss my sister, I’m tired. To occupy the minutes before my friends arrive, I scroll through my Instagram feed; immediately I’m inundated with images of loving relationships, smiling faces, delicious food. My view of South Quad, with the last rays of sunshine struggling to break through the permacloud, pales in comparison. As I sit on the wall outside the dining hall feeling the coarse gravel against my skin, I feel inadequate. I put my phone away, sinking into my parka. My own Instagram account? Silent.

I have fallen victim to the likes of my own creations. These posts that have fostered endless negative comparisons are no different from my own. Just as those I follow, I only care to share the exciting, the wonderful, the brilliant. Feelings of sadness, of uncertainty? That’s embarrassing to post — nobody wants to see that.

And there I made the sobering realization: I am the problem.

By curating these seemingly innocent posts, I am contributing to a culture that fosters my own feelings of inadequacy and self doubt. Don’t get me wrong, as the human being behind The Observer’s Instagram account (shameless plug, follow us @ndsmcobserver), I have seen firsthand the wonderful, empowering effects of social media. Especially within the realm of journalism and news sharing, social platforms are an invaluable tool for conversation and debate. Within the digital space, everyone has a seat at the table.

When it comes to social media, intentionality is everything. A rapidly changing medium, whether it be for personal or professional use, it requires near constant evaluation. As we continue to write the rules in this endlessly complex space, I have hope. Just as I am the problem, I can be the solution.

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