For much of ages 6 through 15, I was an artist; what I lacked in skill, technique, and talent I made up for in expression. In elementary school, I loved to draw, fill up my sticker book, make colorful, fake glasses out of WikkiStix, and doodle on my scratch art pages. When angst took over in middle school and high school, I would take to creating collages of images, words, and phrases that resonated with me or to painting in a bra and underwear while blasting music.
Like many people, my emotional world seemed unlike anyone else’s, and I needed as many outlets as I could come up with to keep myself sane. Coming of age with technology shifted my outlets and my ability to express myself. It came with depressing or overly enthusiastic Facebook statuses and corny Tumblr posts. It was in overuse and continued lack of connection that I found myself needing to pull away, until I made my way to Instagram.
While I am often one of the first people to knock our growing dependency on social media and the excess of apps for us to post on and keep up with, I’ve found energy and comfort in sharing and posting on my Instagram story. I often share meaningful quotes, gut-wrenching poems or one liners, impressive images, music from Spotify, and my day-to-day happenings. It all has made its way to relatable content and brought forth fleeting but generous connections, kind conversations and catch ups, exciting perspectives, pearls of wisdom, and the unexpected aha moment. I daydream on Instagram about places I want to visit and food I want to taste. I muse on Instagram about the funny, small, and frustrating parts of life, relationships, and being a New Yorker. I can show who I am, what I’m thinking about, what I like, what I dislike, and what I am feeling in different ways with the help of many other users’ posts and creativity.
What I’ve found on Instagram is what others might find on Twitter, Facebook (or is it FACEBOOK?), SnapChat, or heck, even TikTok. For better or for worse, we can share and connect in a way that can be difficult to do in person. We can be seen, heard, and understood through our chosen social media outlets. It doesn’t surprise me that the artist in me who loves colors and aesthetics also cherishes Instagram stories and posts. I would go as far to say that being able to express myself on Instagram has deepened my relationships with people off Instagram because they get to know me better through what I post and I get to know them better by how they react to my posts and what they share.
Our inability to be true and clear to our authentic selves outside of our devices is a failing, but we can use our social media outlets to supplement who we are and what we want others to know about us. Is it more acceptable to be ourselves online? Is it more refreshing when we are ourselves in person? Do you have a social media outlet that makes you feel seen, heard, and understood?