- February 28, 2019
- Esther Followwill-Johnson
Lately it seems like most people I know want to be insta-famous. I get the appeal. There is the undeniable opportunity to make money, and to establish a serious platform for your brand. The opportunist in me applauds those who are riding the wave and taking advantage of the benefits that apps like Instagram present!
But there is a kind of conformity I see a lot of influencers present, that is worrying. That is, perfection. At least the appearance of it. Perfect-looking people, in perfect-looking places, living out perfect-looking experiences. I see this especially in the IG “young mom” influencer sphere. The typical girl in this genre, is basically a variation of this:
She is beautiful.
She flawlessly juggles her career while being a doting wife and attentive mother.
She’s perfectly fit, (and —if we’re being honest — never actually had any baby weight to lose). Even in her “haha-I’m-such-an-imperfect-mom” pictures, she looks coiffed intentionally, and the image is invariably edited and brilliantly arranged.
AND somehow, while running her business, she seems to have leisurely days filled with pillow fights, and adorable trips to get ice cream or go to the zoo. The ever-smiling kids are all perfectly matching, and dressed in “mommy-and-me” fashion-forward outfits. To say nothing of the editorial-grade photos of her and her husband seeming effortlessly in love. There really must be a professional wedding photographer following her around as she travels to all the world’s most exotic places. That has to be the explanation!
Would you believe me if I said I’m not judging, I just want to know HOW? I am not knocking it- I love sweet pictures and mommy-and-me clothes as much as the next person. But I know the realities of the busy mom/professional life. Where is the raw reality stuff? Example: I just sat down to write for 10 minutes, and in that time, one of the kids wet the bed and needed to be cleaned up. #thatslife. So honestly, how does everything look so poised and perfect? And holy smokes where does she find the time to do everything in her life so apparently well?
Those are my knee-jerk reactions. So back up a second. We all have an internal response to what we see, whether we realize it or not. Therefore, what we witness online, (or, if you’re an influencer yourself, what you post online) is not just a pretty, casual engagement for others to think “oh that’s cute” and move along. It all has an impact. Here are a few reasons why influencers’ perfect-looking profiles are damaging to the psyche.
- We think what we see is all real, but it isn’t. Those pictures she posted are only the (heavily edited) highlights of someone’s life. A closely manicured glimpse, not a 360-degree view.
- It drives us not to admiration but rather comparison, making us think: I wish I had that, did that, was that, or looked like that. Where jealousy is, there exists every kind of evil. (James 3:16.
- Or it drives us to entitlement: Why DON’T I have that, get to do that, or look like that, etc. And I should, I deserve to, right? Why does SHE just get to do or have those things?
- We don’t see the cost. I mean the behind the scenes of what it took to GET that photo. Because as long as humans are human, there will always be brokenness… so what might look like a great picture might actually just represent a lot of tears, stress, snappy words, kids feeling like props, husbands feeling neglected, a lot of mirror-time, and self focus- who knows? But even if none of those things occurred, you’d never know. Because those pictures only tell half the story.
But the MOST dangerous thing of all is:
- A perfect-looking life sells us a lie: that flawlessness is the goal. In that kind of word, there is no freedom. No room for mistakes, imperfections, no room for messiness in the house, or mismatched clothes, for dark circles and wrinkles, or stains or all the annoying little things that make us HUMAN. And relatable. It’s the Stepford Wives syndrome all over again. It’s all surface value. That perfect world makes us subconsciously believe that materialism and perfection is what matters. That it is to be prized over everything. Even over authenticity.
See, that categorically opposes the two things I value most: the internal and the eternal. The two things that matter most on earth, are what’s happening inside someone’s heart and mind (internal) and what is the status of their soul (eternal). You don’t see the internal and the eternal on an Instagram profile. Sure those two things can be mentioned and discussed online- that has some value indeed! But it’s rarely evident on those “perfect- life” profiles of most influencers.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying accounts, or following accounts like the one I described are wrong! Not necessarily. But rather it is SO important to be aware of the result, of the fruit of what influences our minds… even in things as trivial as social media.
But I’d rather hear of a mom who neglects her online presence to listen to her child describe the bug she just saw.
Or someone who noticed their friend was having a hard day… and sent them flowers and note without having to document it online.
Or someone who was so connected in conversation with a friend they love, that they didn’t get the lighting right.
The image of something is far less important that what is going on beyond the lens.
Consider what you’re seeing. The profiles you and I casually enjoy looking at might seem innocent enough. But ask yourself “how is this affecting me?” You might feel more inspired to travel, more excited about something, but do those accounts also make you more thankful and more content for who you are and the life that you have? What is contentment worth to you?
If you are an influencer, or have an account like the one I describe, what is your motivation in the content you share? Is your goal to glorify yourself, or to brag or flaunt what blessings you have? If you are a Christian, then unless your vision is 1) to glorify God, and 2) to encourage and build up others, then honey I’ve got news for you. It’s just poorly masked self-glorification. And that is always going to be repugnant, or at the very least, shallow and unhelpful. Use your influence wisely.