10 things that never make it to our Instagram feeds


by Jess Fankhauser

This week there was an article on Relevant Magazine’s website entitled: Millennials’ Biggest Problem: Obsessive Comparison Disorder. As the article discussed the effects of our social media consumption on our mental health, one line stuck out in thinking about vocation and living faithfully in our everyday lives.

Obsessive Comparison Disorder makes us look through every picture of our friend’s “My Life is Awesome” Facebook album, depressed because our life looks nothing like “it’s supposed to.”

Can you relate? Has your life ever felt like it looked nothing like you hoped it would and that everyone else was living their dream life by the time they were 25? Living faithfully is not about the grand, picture perfect, find the perfect filter Instagram moments. Those matter and should be celebrated. But vocation is also equally about the messy, hard and mundane moments in our lives that never tend to make it to our Instagram feeds.

Articles like this one in the Huffington Post estimate that young adults check their phones over 85 times a day, which if one is awake for 16 hours a day, that’s once every 11 minutes. When asked though, young adults estimate that’s it’s less than half that amount.

If, as James K.A. Smith argues in Desiring the Kingdom (and also his latest work, You are What You Love) that our habits shape our desires and our loves, then what desires are being shaped by our phone and social media usage? What does our Instagram posts say about what we love and value—what do they say about our desires. What messages repeat in your head about your life as you look at others’ online versions of themselves?

So what do you never see in Instagram feeds? Here’s a starter list we’ve come up with.

  1. The amount of hours spent mindlessly binge watching Netflix shows
  2. Your kitchen counter piled high with the week’s dirty dishes
  3. What you (and your house) looks like after four weeks of no sleep with a newborn
  4. An early morning selfie when you first roll out of bed (before you’ve had coffee)
  5. That calculus test you just failed
  6. The time when you got stood up on a date
  7. When your child throws a tantrum in public
  8. Your dysfunctional family dynamics
  9. Forgetting your best friend’s birthday
  10. Taking out the trash, paying the bills, buying groceries, filling your car with gas and all the Friday nights you go to bed before 10pm…

What else would be on your list?

Most of what matters in life occurs in our everyday (both the good and the hard) moments. It’s there that we are shaped by our loves and desires.

How are you being shaped by the things you post to Instagram and the things you would never post?


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