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Monday, September 24, 2012

My love/hate relationship with Instagram

I said it. I both love and hate Instagram. When the creators of Instagram released it for Android last spring, I was quick to download the app I'd heard my iPhone friends talk about for so long. Of course, I'd seen photos they'd shared on Twitter, but I don't think I really understood how it stands alone as its own form of social media.

Within days, I  had experienced some great reasons to Instagram:
+ free + fun
+ photos look good with the filters offered
+ easy to share images (and has its own built-in community)
+ another way to connect with the blog community

But I quickly found myself compulsively checking my phone to see what photos others had posted and who had liked the photos I posted. It became another distraction and another thing to check, along with Twitter, Facebook and the many blogs I follow. Last week, I shared my heart at On The Willows, and asked the question Can I bless God via Instagram?

Don't worry, I'm not going to Instagram is evil (not any more than any other piece of technology or form of social media). But I do think a word of caution is on order. In my experience, it often calls attention to things, rather than people, and that's my biggest gripe. I hate the way it makes me think, is this dining room centerpiece or baked treat good enough to share on Instagram? Thoughts like this breed comparison and if you've been on Pinterest (another culprit) you may have seen the saying:

As much as I love a pretty photo, I want to capture everyday moments. I'm grateful to have a camera with me nearly always so I can do so (even five years ago it wasn't the norm). Rather than wondering if my photo will "measure up" and get me X number of hearts, I have  been making a conscious choice to post photos that bring glory to God, rather than showing off the latest trend or purchase or my ability to make food look good on a plate (all are areas I lack in).

If I share a photo of an outfit, it's to inspire others to make much of what they already have, rather than show off. I take photos of people because they are God's creation and I treasure spending time with them. I'm blessed to have some beautiful relationships.

Since I've felt convicted of this, I've taken less photos in the past few weeks. But sometimes less is more. The photos I've been snapping have more meaning for me. While these images may not have garnered a lot of comments or hearts within Instagram or even when I shared them on Facebook, there are reasons I love them:
+ I took a walk through Boston's South End and just love its brick paved sidewalks.
+ We shared a meal with friends on Saturday night before going to a Major League Soccer game
+ Candy corn reminds me of fall and makes a simple "decoration"...until it's eaten
+ On Saturday, we enjoyed a breakfast date

With all of that being said, I appreciate following other users who take gorgeous photos. It doesn't mean I don't follow them. Last week, I came across Allison Lehman's guide for users to follow. And if you're new to  Instagram, check out this beginners guide. The bottom line is that, just like anything on this earth, it can become an idol and only the Lord knows what's in our hearts even when we take photos and post them.


  1. Great thoughts, via the encouragement of my husband, I did an IG-less weekend when a college friend whom I'm no longer close with got married. IG was a sad reminder we'd drifted apart and I wasn't part of her day. The weekend turned out to be SO nice!

  2. i'm not on instagram, but i can totally relate to what you're talking about. i struggle too with comparison (usually relating to twitter or blogs), and i have to constantly surrender to the Lord in this area. thank you for your challenging words about posting photos that bring glory to God. that is so good! :)

  3. My favorite thing about IG when I joined was that it seemed to bring all of the encouragement and fun that I love about Facebook, but none of the drama that I despise. My IG feed was dominated by posts from other young moms, offering encouragement or seeking and finding answers to common questions. Not a rant or an e-card in sight. Now there are more and more negative images all the time. Screen shots of text messages, photos that feel like they've been posted simply for comparison purposes. I agree that IG is not what it once was for me.

  4. i agree that instagram can be obsessive.. and i try not to look at it a lot. in fact, i really try to limit myself on social media and the husband and i have no-phone rules during most dinners or times that just the two of us are together talking. but anything can become an idol... one thing I've really tried to do is be okay when I don't get a daily blog post in. that, at points, was beoming an idol because i had this pressure of 5 days a week and even if i was exhausted, forcing myself to put something together. i'm much happier just doing it on my own schedule. :)


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