It begins simply enough: a stark white counter top. A large white piece of paper. In lieu of either, an IKEA plate will suffice. Add a fresh-cut piece of fruit. Sprinkle with herbs ripped straight from their vines. Slide a crescent shaped slice of avacado over to one side and carefully arrange coursely ground chili flakes to look haphazard. Artfully so.
The Instagram of Amy Flyntz, @flyntzie. Photography by Amy Flyntz.
Haven't had time to go to Whole Foods this week for the best and brightest organic produce? No matter. Simply find a sunny swath of hardwood and strike your favorite yoga pose. WARNING: Don't even think about clicking that shutter release unless you have a fresh mani/pedi. And it goes without saying that you shouldn't attempt this particular photographical feat until you've reached your fighting weight. (Actually, a few lbs under said fighting weight is even more ideal.)
Don't get me wrong. I love a beautiful Instagram feed as much as the next person. Bright, even lighting, vibrant colors, simply arranged food, cleverly draped fashion and beautiful people: there's an art to it, to be sure. But recently, I've noticed a creeping fatigue--a wariness?--setting in whenever I scroll down. Is it just me, or are these photos all starting to resemble one another? It's hard to know where one brand ends and another begins.
I use the word "brand" deliberately, because we've all become one, haven't we? We are, for better or for worse, our own personal PR firms. This is what social media has done to us. We post the best snippets of our lives and leave the reality of the day to day in the scrap pile on our not-so-perfectly varnished hardwood floors. You know...along with the dust bunny that's rapidly growing into a dinosaur.
Somewhere, in the name of sharing creativity, we've lost the creative element altogether. In its place are formulaic, contrived and sanitized versions of our interests, our lives, our selves.
Life is inherently untidy and to me, the best things about life are downright messy: art, babies, puppies (all animals, really), wildflowers, the ocean, belly laughter...and love. Have you ever fallen in love using a manual on what or what not to do? (If you have, then please stop reading this blog...you're not my target audience. No offense.) Falling in love involves hurling head first into the unknown, suspending snarky defense mechanisms and embracing the sheer terror of letting oneself be vulnerable in the presence of another. There is no right or wrong way to love someone. There's no formula. Just like there's no formula for eating ice cream on a hot summer day. Ice cream, I'd argue, is also one of the best things about life--yet it's sticky, it's messy, it refuses to be controlled.
So why are we so intent on sanitizing life in the attempt to look perfect in the eyes of what more often than not are people who are on the fringes of our social circles? Are we so starved for affirmation that we're intent on arranging what our lives look like so others will "like" us? Let's be honest. No one on social media is actually liking you. They're liking what you posted, sure. They're liking the version of you that travels and eats healthy green smoothies and knows how to use highlighter to create the ideal amount of radiance for your skin tone and they're applauding the effort that goes into your post because trust me, they know all too well how exhausting it is to keep up appearances. They're doing it, too.
I worry for my niece and nephews that this world we've so willingly created will cause them undo pressure to be perfect, or that they'll be reticent to show the world their true glory for fear it won't be received well by the masses. I don't ever want my niece to think her self worth is directly correlated to how many "likes" she gets when she makes a duck face and angles the camera down toward her cleavage. I pray that my nephews know that taking a photo in a bathroom mirror to prove that they have washboard abs is not the measure of what it means to be a man.
We humans are an interesting species. We've made a mess of politics, religion, human decency and of course, the planet. We've wreaked havoc on each other in the name of whatever god we subcribe to. We've decimated the land on which we live simply because we can. Our shores are awash with a quarter million tons- let that sink in- of plastic microbeads used to exfoliate our dead skin so we can take the perfect selfie. What a most untidy legacy we'll leave behind. But all told, we are terrified to reveal not that the world around us is crumbling, but that we actually didn't wake up "like this". Because that would be an inconvenient truth, wouldn't it? To admit that we are not, as it turns out, flawless?
I don't have the answers on how to turn the tide to make it o.k. to show the world at large who we really are. But I do have plenty of questions.