Insta-Media Literacy

I want to start today’s post by wishing the happiest of happy birthdays to my dear blend Maria! I’m so thankful to have met you through blogging and cannot wait to see you in August!

Drinks at 116 Crown!

Drinks at 116 Crown!

I also have to say THANK YOU to everyone for your supportive tweets and comments regarding the rest day I’m taking today. I woke up this morning with such an urge to fit in a workout before work but your words seriously stopped me and reminded me of the commitment I made in yesterday’s post. I need to do this to prove to myself mentally that nothing bad will happen because of this rest day and I won’t become permanently lazy. That’s just as important as giving my body this physical rest.

So much love for Nicole and Meg!

So much love for Nicole and Meg!

Today’s post is a little bit heavy but it’s something I’ve been wanting to write for several weeks now. I am fortunate enough to have done a communications minor in college, so I had plenty of lessons in media literacy. What is media literacy? My pal Wikipedia calls it ” a repertoire of competencies that enable people to analyze, evaluate, and create messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres, and forms”.

More specifically, during my ED treatment (nutritionist, individual & group therapy) I received the tools I needed to be more media literate when it comes to the messages we are bombarded with daily about what is and is not “healthy”.

In the last year, a huge source of messages about health has come onto the scene – Instagram. I obviously am an active participant in this social network. I love to share food and fitness photos. But I hesitate at times to share certain things, because I wonder how well-equipped in media literacy my followers are. I do not want to be irresponsible and project an inaccurate image of myself. At times I want to add a disclaimer to everything I upload, something that says “This isn’t the whole picture!” or “Just because I’m eating this doesn’t mean what you ate today is bad!”

Just because I Instagrammed this entire dessert does not mean I ate the entire thing. But do I have to add the caption “I shared this with someone”?

Just because I shared this salad as a dinner one night does not mean I didn’t also eat veggie pizza after I finished it. But do I have to add a caption saying that I did?

Just because this salad came with dressing doesn’t mean I used it. But do I have to explain that it didn’t need dressing? Do I have to share exactly how much of it I finished?

It’s so important NOT to take someone’s Instagram account to be a 100% accurate portrayal of everything he or she does in relation to food and fitness, but I feel like it’s super easy to do so. Even I, a self-proclaimed media-literate person, often find myself tempted to feel guilty about what I ate for lunch just because someone Instagrams a “healthier” lunch. Or I feel bad when someone Instagrams a pizza and says “I could not finish this!” when maybe I finished a pizza from the same restaurant a week before.

I had seconds after I finished this plate, but can people see that on Instagram? No.

You don’t know if that person ate a thousand heavy lunches for every one light lunch that shows up on Instagram. You don’t know if the person who couldn’t finish the pizza ate a really big snack before dinner and that’s the only reason why. YOU DON’T KNOW. And if you try to know, if you try to compare your life to someone’s Insta-life, you will just drive yourself crazy.

Sometimes seeing a picture like this on a day that I decided to skip weights is enough to make me feel really shitty about myself.

This is as much a reminder to others as it is to myself! Whenever someone comments on a picture of my lunch and says, “OMG that salad is huge!” or whenever someone comments on a picture of my plate and says, “I could never finish that!” I have to remind myself that they don’t know what I ate the rest of the day. They don’t know what’s in my salad. My Instagram does not tell them the whole story and therefore I do not have to take their comments seriously.

Just because I’m holding this whole flight does not mean I didn’t share it with the table.

Next time you find yourself feeling doubt about your own lifestyle because of a comment on your Instagram, or because of something someone else Instagrammed, please remember this post. Please remember that your life is your own, you’re the only one who knows the whole story, you don’t know someone else’s whole story, and that no comment or photo can change that or take away any of your accomplishments! Stop COMparing and start SELF caring!

Have you ever found yourself tempted to judge yourself and/or others based on their Instagram?

Have you ever received any kind of media literacy training?

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