Why I Love Instagram

Social media. It means different things to people, of course, but for me it has always been a place for inspiration. A space to connect you with other like-minded individuals, near or far. For these reasons, I am quite fond of the social landscape. Namely, Instagram.

It is not uncommon to hear people drone on and on about the consequences of widespread social media use. The ways in which it has diminished our ability to communicate effectively with others face-to-face, or remove our noses from our phones at the dinner table, etc. etc. But for me, whether these things are true or not, I've found that Instagram has really enriched my life. I've made some of the best friends I have ever had through the platform. "Won" a trip to Africa. Even met my fiancé... so you can see where the fond feelings stem.

Quite frankly, I've always been a little shy and awkward. A fact that contributes greatly to my love of writing, curating content, and cultivating relationships online. That may sound creepy, but I'm rolling with it anyway. 

A consequence of my social anxiety has meant a never-ending struggle when it comes to interacting comfortably with others. 

It wasn't until my junior year of high school that I began to break free of some of these long-held anxieties. Even today, though, I struggle. Every morning when I wake up, every evening when I fall asleep I carry this struggle with me. 

Anxiety is like a cursed, vestigial limb. Nearly invisible and entirely immutable. It isn't an easy affliction to cope with. You want to go out, meet people, and feel connection. The desire to do so, however, is quickly drowned out by exhaustion at the mere thought of it. This reality isn't one I feel people are too familiar with. That or they're better at hiding it than I am. 

You might be wondering okay, what in the world does this have to do with Instagram? And the answer is everything. On this platform, I have found a community of like-minded, inspiring people. People who leave me energized - not running for the hills. Some of my most cherished relationships have been born out of Instagram. Friends, even family. Partnerships that have lead to life-changing experiences and taken me around the world. This fact, though it may only be my truth, is testimony to how unbelievably powerful this app can be at creating community. 

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I'm not naive, though. I recognize that many people act less than admirably across the social media scape. People do have the power to cause serious emotional pain behind the safety of a screen. That's a very scary reality. It's a shame, really, because people who act out across this platform truly tarnish what is intended to be a secure space to feel safe, creative, and open. A space where we can express our feelings and beliefs in a constructive way. 

I love watching the social media landscape shift and evolve and constantly finding a new place for myself in the madness. It has meant pushing myself creatively, meeting new people, and experimenting with new mediums. I hope to continue to meet new people and look forward to digesting the limitless inspiration that already exists out there. Thank you to the people who use this platform for good and who have come into my life in crazy, unexpected ways. It truly is special. 

Shaylyn Berntson