I did not have an Instagram account until 2015 and I wasn’t aware of the term “filter” in the context of photos before then. Once you know filters, there is no looking back. Enhancing your pictures has never been easier, one click and you can turn an ordinary picture into a masterpiece. I still don’t have a Snapchat account but I know that its filters are even more unreal, and can turn mortals into angels and also into angels that exist in reality (read animals).
We can’t deny the fact that the online space is slowly and gradually encroaching our lives and our private space. With the constant status updates and the new profile picture posts, it is only natural to feel the pressure to always look good, and appear happy.
There is absolutely nothing wrong in looking beautiful or being happy, the problem starts when we start making conscious efforts to look rather than be beautiful, to appear rather than be happy. When we start taking pictures not to save them as memories, but to share it on social media. When the appearance of our food takes precedence over its taste, not because we like it, but because we want to get “likes”.
It’s a vicious circle, before you know it, you get into this never-ending loop of taking pictures, putting a filter on the pictures, uploading them into social media and counting the number of likes they are getting.
No wonder it happened to me too. Being beautiful is a far cry, I started trying to look good only for my pictures, which could mean putting an extra layer of makeup or spending extra 10 minutes in getting the right filter. And then suddenly it dawned upon me that maybe the filters that I am using on my pictures are actually filters for my insecurities. Maybe I need those filters because I believe in looking beautiful more than being beautiful, maybe it’s my lack of confidence in me or my hidden insecurities about my own body.
I deactivated my Instagram. I may never use the filters again. I am not sure if I will ever gain enough confidence to say goodbye to makeup forever, but I will try.
Perhaps, just like the filters for pictures, there is a filter for our insecurities too, and that filter is awareness, awareness of what is real and what is superficial, awareness of what matters and what doesn’t, awareness that no matter how good we look, it can never cover up for our bad attitude, awareness of our own being and realization that we are special, no matter what we look like.
Originally published at medium.com