The Best and The Worst of Instagram
Instagram is the best. Instagram is also the worst. It’s a love/hate relationship that one billion of us cycle through. But here’s the thing my lil cucumber angels, Instagram isn’t inherently good or bad. Instead, it’s how we, as users, choose to use it that makes it one or the other.
On a personal level, Instagram completely transformed my life. I created my account in 2015 on a complete whim and as a simple tool to hold myself accountable as I started Kayla Itsines’s BBG 12 week workout program. I was a graphic designer at the time, and I had no intention of my Instagram account becoming anything. The word “influencer” in relation to social media didn’t even exist yet.
Over the next three months, it felt like someone had cast a wonderful magical spell over my life. I found myself feeling really excited by Instagram. I couldn’t wait to leave my office job, come home, and post/engage/scroll on my Insta account. I started to make friends through the platform, which was incredible for me considering I didn’t really have friends IRL at the time.
Fast forward to almost four years later, I have made Instagram my full career. It’s been a beautiful, bizarre, and windy road to get here, and heck, I know this ain’t even the final destination. But after all these years, I’ve certainly experienced the best and the worst that this lil app has to offer.
Below, you can find the following:
Fave/Least faves about the ‘gram from me
Fave/Least faves from some inspiring accounts that you may recognize!
Faves/Least faves from awesome members of my community
Some tips to use Instagram in a more mindful manner
My Fave Things about Instagram
Insta Fave: the ability to make friends
Making friends as an adult is hard. So hard. We’re all set in our ways. We don’t walk up to people and say “Hi! Wanna play?!” like we did when we were five. So if you aren’t in touch with your friends from high school or college or if you move to a new city, how the hell do you meet new people?
As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that I found so uplifting about Instagram when I first started using it were the virtual friends that I was making. I was in this weird and somewhat dark period of my life where I didn’t really have girlfriends, so talking to other women on Insta every day was actually life changing.
In 2015, I had been following this gal for a little bit, known as @getfitbrooklyn at the time and now as @chinaealexander. We liked each other’s photos, left comments for each other, and I just thought she was so damn cool and so funny. So one day I sent her a DM to let her know!
I’ll never forget when Chinae gave me her number, and we started texting like friends. This was revolutionary for me. I was finding connection that I had been desperately lacking for years. Chinae and I ended up going on a coffee date not too long after, and from that moment, she’s been one of my closest friends.
Now in 2019, I would say that literally all my friends are women that I’ve met because of Instagram. Whether it’s someone I reached out to directly to get a coffee and hang, or someone I met at an event. The power of putting yourself out there and getting a little uncomfortable is so real.
There are so many examples I could give, but here are a few others:
I have no idea how I originally found Paige, but all I know is that I just loved her vibe and everything she was putting out there. She’s an activist for women’s health and empowerment, the co-founder of @the_breasties, and just all around a badass. We got breakfast one day and just hit it off! It’s funny how you meet someone and just connect with them instantly on an energetic level.
I saw Hannah pop up a few times in my notifications, and I clicked into her profile. She seemed like a rad chick, and best of all, was funny as hell. This past fall, I asked her to meet up for coffee. This girl was even better in person! We had so much to talk about, and after a few hours of chatting, Hannah accompanied me to get my nipples pierced. Yes, you read that right. Since meeting, Hannah has launched her podcast Berning in Hell (check out the episode I was on here!), is starring on Bravo’s Summer House, and has grown from 8k to 50k+ followers. Girl is KILLING IT!
Nitika, a chronic illness advocate and creator of The Point of Pain Podcast, and I met a few years ago on a wellness weekend trip to Montauk, but didn’t really reconnect till mid 2018. I attended one of her events, and ever since then, we meet up and talk on the phone pretty regularly, which is funny, because I rarely talk to anyone on the phone! I love it. She’s one of the most caring and warm human’s out there who will also give it to you straight.
Oh my sweet Chelsea. She was one of my original insta friends from back in 2015. We met at at yoga event, and have been friends since. Chelsea and I share a unique bond because we both went through SoulCycle training together at the same time. It was a insanely crazy, challenging, and transformational process that few understand. I was so lucky to have her during that journey.
Insta Fave: helps me feel less alone
Going through challenges in our lives fucking sucks. And not only is the obstacle itself shitty, but often times we feel so alone in our shitty emotions.
People ask me all the time how I’m able to be so open with life on Instagram. They can’t imagine sharing the things I share so publicly. But the incredible thing that I’ve found is that it’s therapeutic to divulge the tough stuff. Sharing the crappy things I’ve gone through and hearing from my community has helped me get through them, whether it’s an encouraging word or someone else letting me know they’ve gone through something similar.
Here are some examples of challenging moments I’ve shared over the years:
Insta Fave: the wealth of information and connections
Instagram hosts a plethora of information and offers up so many ways to connect. Of course you have to take things with a grain of salt- there are plenty of people out there claiming to be experts when indeed they’re not. And just because someone recommends something or says that certain things work for them doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. But that being said, I’ve learned about so many things and also tried so many things over the years because of instagram.
Here are a few examples of things I’ve learned about, or connections I’ve made bc of Instagram:
I discovered BBG because of Instagram, and when I started following the program, I created my account as a means to hold myself accountable. BBG was an important step to create positive change in my life physically, but it also was the first step in changing my life into what it is today.
KonMari is a proven decluttering and organizing concept, and you can read about my 50+ hour journey with it here. Lisa Tselebidis, a certified KonMari consultant, found me on Instagram, reached out, and we began working together shortly after. The entire process transformed me, and I’m so grateful to insta for hosting that initial connection.
I’ve found most of my tattoo artists through Instagram either by searching through hashtags, or by asking my community for recommendations.
My Least Fave Things about Instagram
Insta Least Fave: the comparison trap
If we were on an episode of Family Feud, and the poll question what “what’s your least favorite thing about Instagram?” I would think that the comparison trap would have to be the highest ranked answer. When you’re presented with hundreds of images and videos from people all around the world, it’s extremely easy to start comparing your looks, possessions, healthy habits, vacations, relationships, clothing, etc. Instagram, for the most part, is the highlight reel. We see the best photo taken out of 100. We see the most fun moments of someone’s life, but not the shit ones they also experience. We see a sliver of a moment out of their day instead of the big picture. But sometimes it’s hard to remember that while your neck is craned down, your thumbs are scrolling, and you’re sitting in your sweatpants feeling shitty while eating a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. I get it. I’ve been there.
For me personally, though there are certainly times I get bummed out about the above, I probably get even more down about things like instagram metrics. Ie, engagement, story views, and follower count. It’s easy for me to look at someone who has half the followers and double engagement and think, “I’m working my ass off to produce great content, so why aren’t my comments and likes as high?!”. Yes, this certainly partly comes from a vanity aspect as we all want high numbers. But what some people may not realize is that these numbers are also important for my business. Brands look at and calculate things like engagement rate, which is becoming even more important than follower count these days. So as a content creator, it can be really frustrating to put a lot of effort into creating great photos and captions, and then have a small fraction of your following see the post and an even smaller fraction engage with it, and then know that my business depends on those numbers.
Insta Least Fave: it’s a time suck
I spend a shit ton of time on Instagram. Easily four hours a day, sometimes five. And yes, I’ve seen it even go up to six… yikes-a-rooni! Though it’s part of my job to be on Instagram a lot, I for sure spend excessive time on the app. I bet I would be shocked at the number of times a day I absentmindedly reach for my phone, open up Insta, and start to scroll without any intention.
The other day I was walking in NYC and all of a sudden felt like, “omg, this sort feels like virtual reality.” I had been staring at screens for long that day that the real world felt like it was not-real. That was definitely a wake up call to start cracking down on my screen time.
Insta Least Fave: I’ve gotten comfortable
This “least fave” is probably not one that a ton of people can relate to, but it’s something I feel strongly about. Instagram is my full time job. It’s the only way I make money at the moment. And though I certainly work hard and love what I do, I think I’ve gotten a little too comfortable. What I mean by that is, it’s time to start thinking longer term. It’s time to set some goals. It’s time to get a little uncomfortable again and take some action to start exploring new ideas.
My Instagram isn’t going anywhere, but I want to create something of my own. A workshop? An event series? A product? I’m not sure. And to be honest, I’ve felt a little stuck recently. But the wheels are turning and I’m feeling really ready to add a new adventure to my plate.
Fave and Least Fave Things about Instagram from Some of Your Fave Accounts:
My favorite thing about Instagram is the ability to have connected with SO many amazing people I would have never met otherwise. I love how social media connects the world together and I feel I have grown so much as a person learning from my community and the amazing friends I have met along the way through Instagram.
My least favorite thing about Instagram is it is so easy to get sucked into the comparison game. You only see the good moments of people's lives so it's really easy to feel like your life or your accomplishments don't add up. The most important thing is to be mindful about how much your scrolling and only follow people that uplift you!
Favourite thing: The ability to source free information and inspiration at the click of a button. No idea what workout to do at the gym? Instagram has about a million workout videos to solve that!
Least favourite: The culture of perfection. We need some more reality checks on instagram. Life just isn't all sunshine and rainbows and instagram should show that too!
My Fave Thing About Instagram: Being able to connect with so many amazing people from all over the country. I’ve made friends that I can literally hop on a plane and meet up with!
My Least Fave Thing About Instagram: The scrolling!! Idk why but it drives me nuts to scroll because it never ends (which I totally get that IG wants you stay on there haha) but I find it distracts me so much!
My favorite thing about Insta is that it gives everyone a voice to express themselves. Whether that’s on their own page or in the comments of someone else’s page. It creates community, builds brands, and gives us perspective.
Least favorite thing - it’s a time suck if it’s treated like an all-you-can-eat buffet, it can be a negative experience if you don’t set boundaries and if you don’t curate who shows up in your feed. It can be a vehicle for good, but it can also be a vehicle for trolls. At the end of the day, let Instagram complement your life. Not be your life.
One of my favorite things about Instagram is the “ask a question” feature in the stories. As a therapist, it’s a great way to answer questions for people who don’t need a therapy session but just have a question.
One of the things I dislike about Instagram is that it encourages us to compare our lives with others. The new celebrity is your friend or neighbor which makes it easier to believe you are less or have less.
Fave thing about insta: being inspired with the click of a button! Want a yoga practice or recipe or meditation? Open IG!
Least fave: comparison trap — falling into the habit of thinking someone’s life is better or that I should be someone other than ME
Such a love hate relationship. I think it’s such a great tool for women to connect but it’s also such a toxic space for us if we don’t learn how to properly use it.
I love being able to connect with other women who are conscious of their wellness journeys. To read someone else’s vulnerability and be able to say “wow I have felt the same” is one of the most powerful, long lasting connections you can make! It’s even better when you can take that online connection, offline.
It can feel disheartening to know I am putting my heart into the content I create for my community but feel like it doesn’t get seen due to an algorithm.
Fave: connecting with folks from all over the world and the exposure to a variety of stories and experiences that inspire
Least fave: the overly curated nature of Instagram, can result in a warped view of reality. It’s important to remember the difference
Good things: the lifetime friendships I’ve built and the inspiring and motivational community.
Bad things: the dang algorithm. Spending time on content etc and no one sees it.
My favorite and least favorite thing about Instagram is a double-edged sword . I really love that we’re able to connect with people and brands from all around the world in a way that previously felt inaccessible (even with Facebook). My scope of understanding cultures and languages is so much more vast than a world without Instagram… That said, people think they know you and your life interworking’s because they’ve gone back and liked every Instagram you’ve ever posted or because you’re keen to respond to every message you get. It’s icky when people think this gives them the leeway to solicit for things that just feel...intrusive. I am asked a lot about my personal relationships or if I can make intros to friends (like, no, my best friend won’t tattoo you). That doesn’t feel good. I choose not to share specific things for a very specific reason.
My favorite thing about insta is how you can post a humorous tweet on it, and then if it’s relatable and funny enough, other people repost it, you watch it spread, and you feel like your words reached so many people and made them laugh.
What I hate most about insta is when people cut the name off your tweet, and then it spreads around the internet with no credit. I like to say, the devil works hard but people who cut your name off your tweet and don’t credit you work harder. It’s taught me that the internet is a wild place and that you can’t get hung up on the past. I try to focus on making new funny content for the present.
We all have a lot of emotions about Instagram. Some days, it's all #inspo and connection, and some days, you may feel stuck in the black hole of judgment and comparison ("how's she so bendy?!" "will I ever look this good in leggings?!" "does she ever work?!") It's totally human, and we all go through these waves. Ever wanted to get off Instagram completely? Hear! hear!
But the important thing to remember is that social media, like any technology, is neutral. We're the ones who bring the energy and emotions to it. Think about it for a second. That's why it's vital to be extra intentional about what you allow into your feed – whether you want it or not, it impacts you subconsciously.
I choose to use social media not as a be all end all, but as a tool to get inspired, feel connected, amplify my message, build community and business, and create all-around positive impact.
The best thing that happened to me on Instagram is the fact that it gave me the opportunity to build multiple businesses around doing what I love. Having a following on Breakfast Criminals gave me the credibility to get into public speaking, host a podcast (Jera has been a guest!), and a conscious social media online program. Good things come out of Instagram when you use it intentionally and choose alignment over hustle.
My favorite thing about Instagram is connecting with other creatives around the world! If it wasn’t for this platform, I wouldn’t have met some of the most incredible people i know now.
My least favorite is the constant pressure to be on Instagram, as part of our jobs. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do for work! But sometimes just want to take a breather and spend personal time with people in person rather than through the phone. The constant need to feel like we have to update everyone on everything at every moment can become a little exhausting.
Best: Instagram has allowed me to get to know people who follow my work on YouTube, TV, and podcasts in a way that doesn’t feel immediately dated. If someone tweets at me it’s easy to respond, but not so easy to get a sense of who the person is. Usually on Instagram the people commenting have actually posted about their lives, so I get less trolls.
Worst: One time I made a joke about a celebrity (which I often do) and my Instagram was overrun with twelve year old stans who I then had to report for being kind of nuts and relentless. I think generally speaking, people are sensitive about less important things on Instagram and it’s perhaps not the best place online for actual comedians to find success.
Fave and Least Fave Things about Instagram from my community:
That I get to be inspired everyday by people all over the world
A community, easy to feel less alone when there are things other people deal with as well
Taking a glimpse into other lives and seeing how much we are the same despite differences
Got access to women with bodies like mine- and they celebrate it!
The honest, real, vulnerable posts put out there
Makes it easy for artists (poets, photographers, etc) to share their work/for us to enjoy it
Social accountability! I tend to “stick to my word” when I write it on IG”
Exposure to people who teach me to be my best self
Gives me idea for fashion, food, travel
Connecting with amazing new people that I never would have met otherwise
When I look up and there goes an hour of my life I’ll never get back.
Everything is a competition & the only way to validate your experiences is to post about them
Seeing others vacation in cool places. I can’t afford to go anywhere like that.
Tying my worth to how many people double clicked my photo
It can be easy to forget about the simple beauty in our own surroundings
Only seeing the highlight reel of everyone’s life
The false information from health & fitness “coaches” infecting vulnerable minds
Often you see the finished products and not the tears and years that went into it
The focus on what you have/what you look like via some influencer culture
Sinking into a whirlwind of comparing yourself to other people.
My Quick Tips to Use Insta in a More Mindful Manner:
As you can see, folks, there is so much potential for both good and bad when it comes to Instagram. To wrap things up, I’m going to give you my top tips to use it more mindfully and keep it as a positive tool:
Unfollow people who make you feel badly
Whether its about your body, relationship, clothing… doesn’t matter what it is they made you feel badly about, UNFOLLOW! It’s up to you to curate a feed that makes you feel inspired, that makes you laugh, and that uplifts you. If an account does otherwise, then give ‘em the boot.
Set a limit on how much time you spend on insta a day
Instagram now has a nifty little feature that allows you to set a time limit. You’ll get a notification when you’ve reached it. It’s so easy to mindlessly scroll, so cap your time and notice how much better you feel when you’re more intentional about your insta use.
Don’t look at insta when you first wake up
Just DON’T DO IT! You’re going to look at it eventually, right? So why not just wait at least thirty minutes and let yourself wake up without the distraction of your phone so you can set the tone for the day? It’s a hard habit to break but it feels really good once you do it.
Would love to hear your thoughts about instagram and your fave/least fave things about it down below!