Instagram Makes Me Feel Old and Boring and I Don't Think It's Instagram's Fault

Here are some things I have posted on Instagram so far: the recovery literature stacked up on my nightstand, my daily gratitude list, my bookshelf covered in stuffed animals. I mean, YAWN.
Publish date:
August 22, 2012
Instagram, social media, being old and boring, pictures

So, I joined Instagram.

If I hadn't already told you I was old and boring in the headline, you probably could have told from the fact that I just joined Instagram. I'm something of a late adopter. I got an iPod, iPhone, Facebook and Twitter at least 5 years after everybody else, and I am resolutely anti-Kindle. I fear change, as Managing Ed Corynne could tell you -- she's always trying to drag me into a more efficient way of doing things while I freak out and cling to the way it's always been. This time it was Madeline who kept telling me I should really join Instagram, you know, for my job.

It seemed like an OK idea -- I wear cute clothes, I like attention. I enjoy looking at other people's manicures and dogs and bestowing my approval on them. But then I started trying to use it. And the first thing I noticed was that my life is soul-drainingly boring. I mean, not to LIVE. My life is FINE to live. (FINE, by the way, is the most devastating thing Jane Pratt will say about your writing.) But it's boring to look at.

Here are some things I have posted on Instagram so far: the recovery literature stacked up on my nightstand, my daily gratitude list, my bookshelf covered in stuffed animals. I mean, YAWN. At least other old people on Instagram can post pictures of their cute kids; I'm not even allowed to do that. The most excitement on my whole feed is the time my son spit up all over me and I took a gross-out shot.

My life used to be sort of GRITTY. I remember it all in Instagram-like photo flashes anyway -- Tuesday night bar scenes with my "friends" in mid-scream, chalky lines on a CD next to my desk where I "worked" all day. (In the beginning it was very important to me to use a "cool" CD to chop and snort cocaine, by the end, I was like "Whatever, gimme Amy Grant.")

My life today is not gritty. It is muted. The colors are pre-school primary and beige. Everybody is always smiling.

I know I'm just bumping up again against the same old happy-but-boring conundrum of life in sobriety. I am safe, but also sheltered. I wake up every morning, but it's always in my own stupid bed. The dark part of me misses the drama of dancing on the pin's edge of self-annihilation, of not knowing for sure where you went and who you hurt last night. It's also the coupled-with-a-kid thing. In fact, I know that almost-30 (a few months into 29, you become almost-30 automatically) is not factually old. When I say old, I am referring to my settled, mature ADULT lifestyle. What do I do these days? Parent and work. Not the stuff of riveting photographs.

Not to mention how much of a tool I feel like taking these pictures. Sure, that pretty flower you found in a crack of cement makes a nice photograph, but when I picture you actually all crouched over in the middle of the sidewalk taking a shot of it? LAME. And don't get me started on filters.

"So, filters are kind of like, not cool, right? I asked my official correspondent on all things YOUNG PERSON, Olivia, yesterday.

"Uh, filters are the whole point," she said.

But it seems like cheating somehow, or lying, to make that picture of my new shoes or makeup bag look better than it is. And maybe that's my fundamental disconnect with the app. Instagram is all about making your life look cool and beautiful, which is sort of the opposite of what I'm about. I like to show you the sloppy bloated clutter, the back fat and the pimples and the ugly pajamas of real-person life. My life isn't really all that cool and beautiful. Most people's aren't.

When I first got sober, I thought I would never have fun again, never dress up in pretty clothes again, never go to a party. That has not turned out to be true. Furthermore, the fun I have in sobriety, the friends I've made, the laughter, is all authentic, not chemically induced. It may not be as exciting to peek in on, but it's real. It doesn't always look cool and beautiful, but it feels that way. #nofilter

Follow @msemilymccombs on Twitter and Instagram, I guess? My username is emilymccombs.