Humans are inherently voyeuristic. It’s the reason why movies like Rear Window are classic, and is likely our central motive to watch movies at all; it is fascinating to people-watch.
True, everyone loves to be told a good story, but we also like to think-up our own versions of other people’s stories, whether we’re aware of doing this or not. This compulsion to be nosy is what funds gossip magazines and websites, and encourages the publication of pictures of the same people, over and over.
This compulsion, too, is why using apps like Instagram can become addictive. We scroll through our Instagram feeds, and although many accounts post pictures that are meant to be motivational, they can also induce feelings of inadequacy in the minds of their followers. After all, there are two basic types of thought that can be inspired by, say, someone doing a difficult yoga pose in bright, flattering active-wear, with an unbelievable view of Machu Picchu or somewhere in the background:
1) The mentally-healthy, positive view: “Wow! What an incredible feat of human strength! Good for them for being so adventurous, and for being so committed to a challenging exercise regimen!”
2) The less-than-mentally-healthy, negative view: “Wow! I wish I was fit enough to do that! Why aren’t I? I wish I had experienced the complicated, random combination of circumstances and privileges that allowed them to travel! Why haven’t I?
It’s incredibly difficult to fight against the temptation to be hard on yourself. However, a great way to be more accepting of all of our own flaws is to remind ourselves that others have flaws. This does not entail that you take pleasure in other people’s pain, but demands that you become more aware of really understanding that not everyone is glamourous and graceful all of the time, as things like Instagram often suggest. For instance, when I hear someone’s stomach grumble in a quiet room, they become more likable to me; I feel that we’ve bonded over either the mutual inability to eat proper meals, or just having uncooperative/irritatingly-audible digestive systems.
Recently, I’ve discovered that breaking up my Instagram scrolling time with the occasional, standard Google search for pictures of glamorous ladies eating not-so-gracefully, or at least semi-unhealthily – in essence, being human – helps reduce feelings of inadequacy inspired by the idealized images that we are presented with most of the time.
I don’t know about you, but I find these pictures SO much more interesting than the same generic shots of celebrities’ “bikini bodies” or red carpet faux pas, or “They’re just like us!” moments.
Why don’t we see images like this very often, if at all?