I decided years ago that I would not follow any of the Kardashians on Instagram.
I’m not anti-celebrity. I follow Rih Rih and Will Smith and Shakira and a whole heap of “influencers,” but the Kardashians are a brand of celebrity that seemed to combine far too many out-of-reach elements for me. They don’t just have some money — there are filthy rich. They aren’t just good-looking — they are plumped, filled, nipped, and tucked by the best. They aren’t just well-dressed — they receive praise even when they are appropriating cultures. They don’t just have loyal followers — they have a legion of fans who would buy a stick of butter if Kim put her name on it (Kardashian fans: I come in peace.)
So, I choose to support from a distance. I occasionally watch the show but still opt out of seeing them in-feed. This decision is one of many I’ve made to keep my relationship with Instagram healthy.
Since its inception in 2012 as an innocent photo-sharing app, the Instagram platform has morphed into an internet smorgasbord. A space to be inspired for many; a place to shop for some; a source of education for others; and mindless entertainment for a whole lot of us. But it is also a platform that has been known to heighten insecurities, exacerbate body dysmorphia, and lead to depression and anxiety.
In addition to the obvious suggestions of limiting my time on social media and turning off notifications when needed — I apply the below five tips to keep my relationship with Instagram balanced.
Assume it’s all a lie.
Many of the most popular celebrities and influencers on IG have done something to enhance or change their genetic inheritance. There are those who have gone under the knife and others who have made a few “tweakments,” such as fillers and botox. And millions go the “old school” route of photoshopping their way to excellence.
Let me be clear though: there is nothing wrong with people choosing what they want to do to their bodies. What I am saying is that it isn’t healthy for us to compare our unfiltered, raw bodies to the augmented ones that we are inundated with online. That’s why I choose to assume that things aren’t as they appear on social media. And that applies to everything from Khloe’s body to the seeming perfection of Michael B. Jordan and Lori Harvey’s relationship. And while realness surely exists — I think we can all agree that the internet only tells us a sliver of the story.
Unfollow accounts that don’t serve you
If I don’t know you personally, I require the accounts I follow to do one of the following: bring me joy, inspire me, teach me something, or allow me to support a come-up (i.e., a small business). As a result, I have stopped following a couple of beautiful-for-no-damn-reason influencers. These individuals aren’t bad people but I noticed that watching them, say, pose in a private jet was not doing anything for me but stir up annoyance and envy.
Don’t let it take your peace
A close friend of mine started using Instagram in 2018 to share his experiences in nature. At the time, he was fishing for recreational purposes and loved that through the platform, he could shine a light on the positive aspects of a sport that didn’t often feature men like him: Black fathers. In 2020, he started to amass more followers and at some point, there was a shift. As he reflected, he told me that he went from using Instagram to share a pastime that brought him peace to believing he “owed” the platform evidence of said pastime. In a subtle way, Instagram then became more for show than for peace.
I believe it’s important to take a break from social media platforms when you are not okay with how your “why” for using them has evolved. And note here, it’s okay if you do decide to change your relationship — and, for instance, use Instagram for your business or to help you stay accountable to something. However, my friend’s experience was a reminder to me that I must monitor my evolving relationship with social platforms to ensure it continues to sit well with my soul.
Don’t let it interrupt new memories
I fall somewhere in the middle of my friend groups when it comes to my social media use. As such, I’ve both been on the side of feeling like someone is distracted by their phones as I have been that person who momentarily holds a group up so I can capture a moment “for the ‘gram.” However, I subscribe to one rule of thumb: if I can do it within one minute, it’s okay.
I figure that if what I’m doing on social media while in a social setting cannot be done in under one minute — it need not be done at that moment. This often means I capture something with my camera but I don’t upload it for a few hours (I’m notorious among my friend groups for next-day IG Story recaps). It serves us to be cognizant of whether our actions are helping memorialize a moment or rather, interrupting a new one as its unfolding.
Don’t conflate social clout with soul identity
Studies have shown us that social media notifications trigger the same chemical reaction caused by gambling and drugs (real cute, I know). And in addition to that “feel good” dopamine release, social media’s success is predicated on its ability to serve (err, stroke) our egos. The number of followers, the likes, the comments — these can all make people feel recognized and rather self-important.
Yet, none of what we post on social media is who we are at our core. The cool vacation shots, the perfect selfie, the new business account page you just started — none of them are expansive enough to capture the whole of you or your true essence. And in many ways, these vanity metrics cause many of us to confuse our social clout with our soul identity.
Like all social platforms, Instagram may not be around forever, and I think it’s important that we find a way to like ourselves whether or not someone likes our photos.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here are my own and not supported by Facebook/Instagram.
Simone Keelah is a creative writer. After a decade working in Corporate America, Simone walked away from the 9–5 grind to unapologetically live out all expressions of herself. She’s a citizen of the world, having lived in five cities in the past five years before landing back at her parent’s house. She’s on Instagram @SimoneKeelah.