"My relationship with Instagram began innocently enough. I was a normal girl from a random suburb with 100 followers on Instagram. Then I met some people who had a ton of followers, got tagged in a picture with them, and found myself with seven thousand new “friends” practically overnight. My newfound following praised me constantly in the comments section of my posts, created fan accounts, and publicly speculated about what my occupation could be—they usually assumed I was a model, DJ, some sort of socialite, or a Kardashian. In reality, I was a dance student with no money. With the unwarranted praise from total strangers came an unsavory responsibility: in order to maintain the status I had achieved, I’d have to continue portraying a very specific image of myself.
I remember a time pre-Instagram, before curating aspirational online identities was a thing. Then there’s the younger generation who was born into the Internet Age. Take my sister, for example – she’s smart, hilarious, and a good, loyal friend. She only has 200 followers. For a 17 year old in 2015, that’s not good enough—for her generation, self-worth is directly proportionate to number of followers. I’ll admit, my self worth rocketed when my number of followers did, but I always felt uncomfortable with the level of narcissism involved to consciously maintain the image I subconsciously created. I was aware that my confidence wasn’t something I earned on my own. So much for self-worth, right?"