I deleted my Instagram App

I feel like I should clarify that I haven’t deleted my actual account. I didn’t want to take that step in case I decide to return to Instagram, but I have deleted the app and haven’t seen an Instagram feed in about a fortnight.

I should probably explain why I made the decision to do this. I began to find that Instagram was just another stop on the rounds of scrolling through apps for whatever psychological reason it is that we do that (it’s certainly not fulfilling). I probably posted once every 3 months on average, and every time I did I would be glued to my phone waiting for ‘enough’ likes to come in so that I wasn’t as concerned about people judging me anymore. I remember when I was about 12 years old being allowed to create a Bebo account. Firstly I want to point out how much more creative and wacky Bebo was than any of the social media sites we have now, in many ways it allowed for a higher level of individualised self expression, but anyway… I think that was the first time I ever felt the panic of not having enough social media likes. On Bebo they were called hearts/ ‘luvs’ and you saw when you clicked on somebody’s profile how many hearts somebody had. I don’t remember how many I had at any given point but I remember clicking on some of the pages of the popular girls at school and seeing that they had hundreds. Actually, I remember at times this would put me into a panic and I think it was the same for almost everybody. People would practically beg each other for hearts and comment things like ‘luv 4 luv’ etc (late 2000’s text language was an abomination) on each other’s profiles to try and up their count.

Now, Bebo is long gone but it has been replaced with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The reason I decided to delete Instagram and not either of the other two is because, to me, Twitter and Facebook still have some inherent value that overrides the pressure and anxiety that comes with all social media. Facebook allows me to stay connected with the more obscure people in my life, to have a cheeky look at what people I went to school with are up to and Facebook Messenger is the main way I communicate with my friends on a daily basis. With twitter it’s slightly different, I don’t actually feel too much pressure to get a whole load of likes on my tweets. I also tend to find that there’s a genuine correlation between the content of tweets and how many likes they get. If the tweet’s shit it’ll probably get less than 5 likes regardless of how popular you were in school. The value of twitter to me is information. It’s a useful source of world news, pop culture trends and hashtags have become sort of a staple in the development of a lot of ideological movements.

Instagram, however, does not have any of these redeeming features for me. Personally, Instagram epitomises all of my anxieties with social media. One of my absolute least favourite things about it is that people are congratulated on physical attractiveness (whether it be false under a guise of makeup/filters/edits or genuine) as if it’s some kind of achievement. If somebody looks especially nice they “deserve” more likes. This is a mentality that many of us have without even realising, because when you actually think about it it’s completely MENTAL! Nobody EARNED the way they look. Angelina Jolie didn’t excel in some obstacle course before she was born that granted her the gift of good looks just in the same way that a baby with a deformity didn’t do anything bad to deserve it either. I’ve heard some of my friends say things like “if they look especially nice I’ll give it a like” and to be honest I’ve grown tired of the shallowness… I’ve also found Instagram to be a bit of a breeding ground for fakeness. We like other people’s content just to receive likes or portray ourselves in a positive light (kind of like the hearts on Bebo). The chances are people have only liked your picture in the hope that you will in turn like their next one. It’s not genuine and they probably didn’t spend more than three seconds looking at it, and what’s worse? You don’t care. You don’t care that it’s disingenuous as long as the numbers are there for everyone to see when they scroll past you looking for their own posts to fixate on. Really, what’s the point?

Lastly, but DEFINITELY not least, is the body image aspect of Instagram. The majority of pictures people post are edited at least in some way. You’re not looking at the face of your best friend sitting across the sofa from you each day, you’re looking at a construct. It’s easy to spot this with people you spend a lot of time with, but where it gets dangerous is when you begin to compare yourself to celebrities and acquaintances that you don’t see in person. You don’t have the reality to balance out the edited version and that’s when insecurities start to fester. I know girls that spend hours and hours a day just scrolling through images of toned girls in bikinis, this isn’t healthy.

I ended up finding that scrolling on Instagram was causing me more upset than any kind of rewarding sensation it was supposed to give me. I probably only spent about fifteen minutes a day (on average) on Instagram, but in those fifteen minutes I could go from feeling totally fine to feeling worse about myself, even if it was just a tiny amount. I’ve decided that, for now, it’s just not worth it for me. I’ve already had messages from anxious friends asking me to like their latest post and it’s only a reminder that social media can be a truly insidious way to make an enemy out of yourself and to commodify your friendships. Even though I’ve only deleted Instagram, it’s one less thing to worry about. One less thing to squander my time scrolling through.

 

Until next time,

J x

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The Addams Family Musical

I am currently lying in my bed, trying not to feel guilty about it because it’s Sunday, still suffering from Friday night when I went to see The Addams Family Musical (followed by a big night out) as my birthday present from one of my friends.

Since then I have been hungover singing the songs, thinking about the performance and what it must be like to perform in a professional touring show like that.

The opening number of the show “The Addams Family Theme” was an amazing number and the choreography was awesome. I immediately thought that the casting of Cameron Blakely as Gomez and Samantha Womack as Morticia was spot on. I’ve linked to a video of the opening number with the current cast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jum02Ku4ylU

I loved the story that was chosen for this musical, Wednesday’s sort of coming of age story which I don’t think has really been told before. Songs like “Crazier Than You” and “Pulled” are absolute classics and Carrie Fletcher’s (who played Wednesday and who I’ve watched on youtube since about 2012) voice was so strong and clear. It was amazing to be sat in the audience watching.

Going to see things at the theatre is not something I do often. I went to see Wicked in London a couple of years ago and going to see The Addams Family in Glasgow is the only thing I’ve seen since, however, I’ve decided I definitely want to go to more shows like this. The rush it gave me was amazing. I spend a fair bit of money on going to music concerts and the feeling I had when leaving the show on Friday night was the same feeling I have when I leave a particularly good concert (such as Lorde who I saw recently, but that’s for another time).

Actually seeing this show live took me back to when I used to take drama classes. I tried to imagine what it must be like to have thousands watching you every single night. I can’t even imagine the nerves of standing in the wings waiting to begin a show, I’m not sure if I could cope with that. I did a few shows with my drama group but only to an audience of friends and family. I remember one time I had a costume change where I had to put a shirt on and button it up in the space of like one minute and I didn’t quite get it done so you could still see my red t-shirt underneath when I went on stage. I don’t think anyone really noticed or cared but it was enough to nearly send me into full on panic. I also remember one time I was doing a short performance from a section of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with a few other young girls and we got on stage, the lights went up and one of the girls (who was to start the whole piece off) muttered under her breath “I can’t remember my lines”. Luckily after a few seconds of sheer panic she remembered them and began, but what if that were to happen on stage at an actual theatre?! Obviously these actors/actresses are professionals and have done it hundreds of times but there’s nothing preventing somebody from just having a mind blank one day.

Anyway enough of my rambling because none of that happened, the show went flawlessly and I left feeling exhilarated and wishing I could go again the next night (until I woke up with my hangover).

Until next time,

J x

The Problem with Inspirational People

I’ll rephrase that, it’s not the inspirational people’s problem, it’s mine. There are so many positive things to be gained from watching and listening to the people who inspire you but, sometimes, I find it has the opposite effect.

One of the most inspirational people in the world, to me personally, is Emma Watson. I’m a MASSIVE Harry Potter fan (obviously) so have known of Emma since I was literally a small child. Watching her play Hermione in the Harry Potter films and grow up on screen, while I was also growing up, was amazing to me. I left the cinema after seeing The Deathly Hallows Part 2 sobbing my eyes out that it was the end. I was wrong though, Emma Watson has continued to inspire me in almost every way since that day. I learned that she studied literature at Brown University, starred in an adaptation of one of my favourite books ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’, is a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, a proud advocate for feminism and sustainable fashion and she started her own book club ‘Our Shared Shelf’ that champions female writers.

Emma Watson placing free books in random places in Paris (like an angel) as part of her book club ‘Our Shared Shelf’. Picture from Emma Watson’s Instagram (@emmawatson)

She’s pretty much a perfect human to me and I think if I ever met her I’d be a blubbering mess and wouldn’t be able to say anything. I’m excited every time she posts on Twitter or Instagram and actively keep up with her latest projects. Most of the time, I’m just in sheer awe of her. If I achieve 0.001% of what she has achieved in my life I’ll be over the moon. I look up to her and admire her work.

Sometimes though, If I’m having a bad day or have just had a set back of some form, I see an Instagram post by somebody I’m usually inspired by, about their latest exciting endeavor, and it just makes me feel inadequate. I fully know that this is my own problem and nothing to do with them but, none the less, it is the case.

Zoe Sugg launching new beauty range ”Jelly & Gelato’. Picture from Zoe Sugg’s Instagram (@zoella)

I follow a lot of bloggers and youtubers and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of their lifestyles. Most of the time I just think it’s really cool that they’re working on creative projects that they’re passionate about. Whether it’s books, product ranges, short films and sketches, campaigns or music. I’m envious of those who are in a position to create something they love and have it be a success.

Hannah Witton winning an award at Summer in the City. Picture from Hannah Witton’s Instagram (@hannahwitton)

An example of this is Hazel Hayes’ short films. I have always loved writing and am currently studying English Literature at university in the hope that one day I’ll be able to pursue writing as a career. On top of that I’m a massive fan of film and TV and have written screenplays for my own enjoyment for years. It’s awesome that Hazel is achieving her goals and creating short films and I find it encouraging and inspirational to see, but again sadly when I feel bad I start to compare myself to people like her. Which I KNOW is one of the most unhealthy thing I could do, but I think about my own life and the things I’ve achieved and compare it to these, very successful, people.

Hazel Hayes on set of ‘Prank Me’. Picture from Hazel Hayes’ Instagram (@thehazelhayes)

It serves no purpose other than to demoralise myself, but I’m sure a lot of people understand that it just feels out of your own control sometimes. It’s unhealthy but natural to compare yourself to others. Sometimes I even look at the career trajectory of some of these people and then decide that I’ll never achieve success because I haven’t done the things they had done at my age. I know, it makes no sense and everybody has their own individual paths.

Anyway, this is just a little something that was on my mind yesterday that I thought I’d share. 90% of the time, seeing what these people are up to puts me in a great mood… especially Emma Watson.

Until next time,

J x