Compare and Despair: The Instagram Blues

Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name, Elizabeth Rose. Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.

The majority of cruisers we’ve met maintain some sort of a blog, Facebook page, or Instagram account dedicated to their life on a sailboat.

But like many people out there, I have a love/hate relationship with social media.

At one point, I found myself scrolling through posts up to five times a day.

My ego would inflate with each “Like” and deflate just as fast as I compared myself to others.

On top of that, the base of my right thumb began to ache from overuse.

So, as post-worthy as our trip would be, Jason and I decided to leave social media behind.

Instead of enjoying moments together, we feared we would preoccupy ourselves with staging the perfect shot, composing witty captions, and searching for a strong Wi-Fi connection ultimately diluting our experience just to look like we were entirely in it.

So, I deleted all social media from my phone altogether.

Our family and friends were a little disappointed, as they wanted to follow our adventure, but I figured there’s nothing a good old-fashioned slideshow can’t fix.

With that said, a few weeks into our stay in Santa Barbara my ego got the best of me.

Curious to see what was going on around town, I caved, downloaded Instagram, and lost myself in the world I yearned to escape.

It was our two year anniversary and Jason and I laid in bed, happily scrolling on our phones after a long beach walk and a movie.

I was twenty minutes deep into Instagram when I wondered why Jason never posts photos of us.

Spiraling down the rabbit hole even further, I began to question his love and dedication to me.

Here we were, content and happy yet only after I immersed back into social media did I compose a perfectly irrational story in my head: If a man is truly in love with a woman, wouldn’t he want to shout it from the rooftops or, at least, post a dang picture on Instagram?

I tried to talk myself out it but my ego already started to bruise. By this point in our partnership, Jason knows when I’m feeling off.

He sat up, put his arm around my shoulders and asked what was wrong.

“You don’t post pictures of us on Instagram and I just want to be sure this isn’t a temporary relationship.”

He looked confused.

“What do you mean? We’re on this incredible journey together, Love!”

“Yeah, but, I don’t want to be just a first mate for this trip.”

He laughed with smiling eyes, the way you would at a small child wobbling across the room learning to walk.

“No, Lover. This is not temporary. We have our whole lives ahead of us.”

At that moment I felt something a million “Likes” could never replicate.

Jason looked deep into my eyes in a way that dug right down to the core of my insides.

It was the look of assurance, love, and commitment. A look that said, I mean business.

Minutes later, I deleted the app.

Of course, the problem isn’t Jason or Instagram.

It’s the fact that after scrolling through Instagram, I felt our relationship needed validation from others.

In my personal life, I do not share with friends why our relationship is special.

Words would only lessen the magic.

The reason our relationship feels so good is the same reason I’m unable to verbalize it.

Our love isn’t based on outward appearances or approval.

It’s an inside job.

So why I felt the need to gain public opinion is beyond me.

My grandparents, the greatest love story I’ve known, never felt the need to prove their love to others.

I saw it in the way grandma would lay his fishing clothes on the bed every morning and how grandpa would serve her papaya with cottage cheese and raisins on top just the way she liked it.

At some point, we’ve got to ask ourselves: How much of my happiness is base on social media?

At the end of your life, will all those “Likes” matter?

As you lie on your deathbed, will you remember a life half lived for the approval of others and regret the life you forgot to live for yourself?

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