I put on several layers as it was only about 10 degrees out side. After driving forty minutes due north, I got out of the car I had piled two dogs into the hour before and leashed them up. I parked at the base of some snow-covered sand dunes that I thought would be a great workout to climb for both me and the pups. Upon reaching the top, unzipping my jacket and taking a seat in the sun, I took a steamy exhale and pulled out my phone. The springer spaniel in front of me panted, but in the way that dogs do where it looks like they’re smiling at you with the most honest intentions.
I really had no choice. I had to capture the moment. Between the lake, the lighting, and the overall picturesque scene, it would’ve been a travesty for this photo to go untaken.
The next day when I got back to work, I got a Gchat from a friend expressing that my Sunday had looked phenomenal. I concurred that, yes, it was indeed phenomenal before she shot back, “Did you just do that for the Instagram?”
I was fucking appalled. How dare she come at my neck like that? Who has the balls to come into my house, take my remote control, question what I’m watching, and just change the fucking station? Did I do it for the Instagram? Did I do it for the fucking Instagram? Of course, I didn’t. I did it because I wanted to get a fresh perspective on shit by way of soaking in the sounds of nature’s silence with a couple of man’s best friends.
I officially had a chip on my shoulder. I didn’t want people that I was just living my life through the lenses of Instagram. I didn’t want people to think my life was just a bunch of smoke and mirrors behind my intrinsic need for affirmation by way of likes.
But then, something happened. I had an epiphany of sorts. Did I, deep down, know that I would put myself in the middle of a picturesque scene in Northern Michigan that would automatically garner the attention of my Instagram followers? Was I inspired by the myriad of outdoorsman accounts that I followed in return? Was I… was I doing this for the Instagram?
Honestly? Maybe I was. Maybe I did know. Maybe I turned my lazy Sunday on the couch into a five-hour excursion with zero human contact that I’d die to return to when I’m getting cabin fever in the city. Maybe I would’ve otherwise fallen in and out of naps all day until the dread kicked in that I had to work that following Monday. Maybe I was becoming okay with people doing it for the Instagram.
We live in an Instagram-shaming society where girls and guys alike can’t even snap a quick selfie at a baseball game without two 65-year-old announcers making them into a viral sensation for being a part of a lost generation. But sure, we can all take a step back and criticize the actions of others. But what if it was acceptable to purely do things for the Instagram? What if we make it okay for these girls to hike Maroon Bells without being afraid of feeling basic for it? What if I do ask someone at a wedding to take my picture in front of the fireplace so my mom can smile at her phone knowing I’m crushing it?
What if we didn’t shame the girl in front of an exposed brick wall having her boyfriend take photos of her for her fashion blog? What if we were accepting of her being like every other girl who spends her Saturday morning laying in bed with her phone sitting in her outstretched arms texting, “Oh my god, I got so drunk last night”?
What if that group of guys never went on a one-night camping trip with their golden retrievers, and instead went to a bar where they downed a total of fifteen shots of Fireball only to get in a fight with an Uber driver?
What if the girl with a perfectly juxtaposed brunch photo of eggs benedict, coffee, and a newspaper that she didn’t read was actually a girl arguing with her boyfriend in her studio apartment because they, “never do anything fun anymore?”
Do you want to live in that world? Do you want to live in a world where someone can’t take group photos to document their vacations because they’re living in fear of people thinking they’re just doing it for the Instagram? Do you want to question yourself about posting a photo because you’re afraid people will think you’re trying too hard? Do you want to be forced into taking just one photo at the beach only to run the risk of it not turning out and having that moment fall away forever into your fleeting memory?
I didn’t think so. We need to end Instagram-shaming much in the same way we need to end childhood obesity. If both continue, complacency will take over and we’ll live in front of screens even more than we already do. And that’s not a world I want to live in.
And yeah, to answer your question, I did kind of take that hike for the Instagram. .
Image via Shutterstock