Take a deep dive into any millennial’s Facebook profile, and you’ll come across photo albums with inspiring titles such as ‘Pretending To Be Freshers LOL’ or ‘Big Night at Ocean.’
Full of snaps taken on a digital camera, you’ll find at least 86 pictures all from the same night – with not a filter in sight.
But what really sets these albums apart is that they’re made up of group shots – friends drunkenly embracing one another, singing along to whatever 00s banger the DJ was playing.
While there are many reasons why these retro albums have fallen out of favour (hi, prospective employers), what isn’t clear is why we stopped taking pictures of each other.
Influencer or not, we’re all guilty of filling our grids with carefully taken photos of ourselves.
These days, we wouldn’t dream of going on holiday/a night out/to a wedding without getting a great solo shot, and videos with the hashtag #howtopose have hit 5.4 billion views on TikTok – yes, billion.
But could we be missing out on capturing memories with our loved ones?
Karin Peeters is a life and career coach and psychotherapist at Vitalis Coaching & Therapy. She thinks our obsession with single shots started from a good place.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I imagine it started from a place of joy, like wanting to share our passion for our business, or to share our lovely adventures with friends.
‘But it seems that for many, the joy has been replaced by a mindless habit, an item on the to-do list, or even fear. The friendly girl-next-door compares herself with an influencer on a massive budget, and feels she’s got to live up to that way of life.’
Cara Dee, 36, is an influencer from Southsea. She thinks curating our feeds with solo images can be good for our self-esteem.
Cara told Metro.co.uk: ‘Creating portraits, whether that’s at home or whilst on holiday, where you feel beautiful can be a real confidence booster.
‘For me, taking stylised, glamorous photos of myself really helped me view my body in a different light.
‘For the first time, I felt confident in myself and enjoyed capturing a moment or an outfit in a fun way.’
Cara also believes influencers have inspired followers to go outside of their comfort zones.
She adds: ‘There’s definitely an increase of people being inspired by their favourite Instagram accounts and recreating what they see.
Taking stylised, glamorous photos of myself really helped me view my body in a different light.
‘I think it’s great that people feel less self-conscious now to pose in public and get the sort of photos they see in magazines – rather than awkward folded arms in front of the Eiffel Tower.’
But she also admits that people feel ‘a lot of pressure’ to present their grids in a certain way, adding: ‘I do miss the days when Instagram was just a photo of your dinner, and people didn’t get so stressed over how many likes they got.
‘Take photos of yourself looking beautiful for you, and not because it will get you more likes.’
Priscilla Humado, 31, is a fitness influencer from Surrey. She agrees that taking images of ourselves can make us feel good.
‘Taking photos of yourself can create a sense of self-identity – you can explore your creativity and uniqueness,’ she told Metro.co.uk.
‘When you have others within your pictures, the confidence might come from them, rather than yourself.’
But Priscilla also notes that solo images are important to her as an influencer – in a way that might not be for the average social media user, adding, ‘I want to become my own individual brand – not a joint brand with others – so my focus is on me, and my skill set.’
She also says that that are downsides to forgoing group shots. She says: ‘In the long run if you don’t check in with yourself, using social media like this can create arrogance and superficial behaviours where all you focus on is how you look externally, what others think of you, and you don’t focus on the importance of what is on the inside.’
It can create superficial behaviours where all you focus on is how you look.
So how can we ensure we’re using social media in a healthy way?
‘A good indicator that we’re taking social media a step too far is when we are solely focusing on how to best share the moment online, instead of actually being present,’ says Karin.
‘Our body is there, but our mind is with our social media feed.’
Karin says that when you start taking images of yourself, take time to think about what you’re doing.
She says ‘Notice what is really going on inside of you when you take selfies: are you trying many poses out of fear that none is quite good enough? Are you slightly anxious or restless while taking one photo after another, dismissing them all? Or are you jealous of how others seem to look so much better than you?
‘Once you have determined what you really feel, then decide what to do next. In this way you create the freedom to choose your behaviour mindfully. You might still decide to take that photo, but from a place of joy and self-worth. You might change the photo into something more natural or post it with different comments.
‘Or you might choose to simply put your phone in your bag and be fully present in the moment.’
Ultimately, we need to separate social media from our self worth.
She adds: ‘Define your worth on your qualities, like kindness, generosity, creativity or your sense of humor. These aspects of your personality are part of your inner world and do not depend on external validation, for example how good your photo looks on your feed.
‘When you can take photos for your social media from a place of joy, without worrying how others see you, then you’ll notice an inner peace.’
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