An Open Letter To My Emotionally Draining Boyfriend, Instagram

Dear Instagram,

I love you. Whatever I say in this letter, know that I will never actually have the guts to quit you, because I am too far into this relationship and too much of my happiness has come to be tied up with you and your recently-improved selection of filters. I don’t intend for this to be a breakup letter; on the contrary, I hope that this kind of openness will allow our relationship in 2015 to be more productive, healthy, and rewarding for the both of us. (Also, thank you for sparing me in the purge this year.)

As you know, for years, I didn’t have a smartphone, and thus didn’t have you. I lived three whole years in Europe without you (think of all the likes I missed out on!), and because I’d never known you, I didn’t miss anything. I didn’t think of my life, and aesthetic surroundings, in terms of their Insta potential as I (embarrassingly) do now. I didn’t compare how sexy and artistic my vacations, apartment, and daily outfits looked compared to my extended group of friends. Looking back, it was a much simpler time, filled with many fewer pictures, but more deeply personal experiences. And even now, when I go a few days without you, I am transported back to that time in my life, and feel nostalgic for how unconcerned I used to be with appearances.

But now I am technically a lifestyle blogger, and as part of my #personalbrand, maintaining you is a matter of career importance. (Even if it wasn’t though, let’s be honest, I’d definitely still use you.)

Anyway, when I moved to New York — and acquired the requisite smartphone — I started using you. Suddenly my experience in the #BigApple was filtered through you, several times a week. (I admit I am partial to Valencia, but certain times of day lend themselves really well to Amaro and, occasionally, Nashville.) You are a big part of my life now, and aside from the existential crisis about “Am I really enjoying this, or am I just enjoying it via the likes of my followers” is only part of the problem.

The most pressing issue, and the reason you are often so emotionally draining, my beloved boyfriend, is because you make it so much harder to save money. You see, now, I am surrounded by the expertly-art-directed lives of the people I have chosen to follow, and even though I know from personal experience that their lives are not actually that glamorous or high-contrast in reality, I cannot help but look at them and think “Fuck. My work area looks like a piece of shit compared to that, I’d better go out and get one of those incredibly uncomfortable clear lucite chairs to make myself all Pinteresty and #aspirational.” I see them wearing the perfect camel coat, and I go on a whirlwind tour of every mid-price-range store in the city to find one for myself. And yes, I often do love these things, but if I hadn’t known about them in the first place, I would have never known the desire to begin with.

Because, let’s be honest, Facebook isn’t aspirational. I don’t see people’s lives on there and think “Damn, I really need to get on this level, because this friend is deceptively good at portraying their life in a sexy way.” Most people on Facebook are illiterate. You are clearly the problem here.

And I am really trying, Instagram. I’m running this blog on saving money, and I swear to god, I’m gonna really do it. I’m going to cleanse and pare down my whole life until I am freed of the desire to fill the empty spaces in my heart with material goods. Right now, you are stronger than the joy I get from seeing money going into my savings, but this year will be about conquering that. You will not wield this power over me, this trickery that teaches us your life is only as good as it looks, and that everyone is in a competition for how minimalist chic their office can look.

(Because, by the way, I don’t actually believe that the people who are “winning Instagram” with their flawless ability to arrange a watch, piece of cake, and single flower on a table together, are actually that happy. I have seen people painstakingly arrange things, letting food get cold at a table while they fought for the perfect angle, and I don’t aspire to that, either. I just know that, in the moment, seeing how successful they are at portraying an image of success, my self-esteem drops a notch automatically. I can’t help it.)

This probably means that I will have to unfollow certain people who are simply bad for me and my wallet, and are only going to cause me great sadness. I’ve already purged myself of the fashion bloggers and the one or two friends whose families vacation regularly in Bali or whatever. But the cleansing will have to continue, because I cannot let you continue to mess with my sanity, and my perception of what is real and necessary. If I don’t, you will have me spending all of my savings on a glamorous espresso machine to put in my light-filled kitchen, when my shitty IKEA stovetop thing works just fine.

You are the worst. But the Valencia filter is a godsend for people with problem skin, so I can’t hate you. Just please, if it’s not too much to ask, be a little kinder to me next year and disable the browse function. I don’t need to get into a two hour k-hole of looking at Eva Chen’s entire post history while eating Pringles in bed. Not that I do that or anything.

Love

Chelsea

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