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The Pursuit Of Happiness, On Instagram

A college girl resisted the medium - till now.
The Pursuit Of Happiness, On Instagram A college girl resisted the medium - till now.

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Instagram wasn’t something I really associated with the word happiness. That isn’t to say the countless people posing fiercely for OOTDs or feigning a pensive stare for selfies aren’t happy inside–it just wasn’t my brand of happiness. It looked like a lot of work, trying to find the perfect angle for pictures and editing them to perfection for a flawless feed. Hashtags like #likeforlike or #followforfollow also made me wonder if I really wanted my self-worth to be measured in number of likes, shares and followers. Maybe this is why I’m the only one among my friends that doesn’t have an Instagram. All of them are telling me to get one. Even the boys! But since the medium has been alive (5 years, versus my almost two decades on this earth), I have resisted it.

The hesitation might come from the fact that I’m not a photographer. I’m not one of the hundreds of people who can somehow find that perfect angle for a good, post-worthy picture–unless you count snaps of my dog doing something funny, or my occasional prank selfies on my friends’ phones, making ugly, Jabba the Hutt-like faces (not something I get too excited about sharing to the world). To me, Instagram is just like Twitter and Facebook, but with pictures. I’m already on both platforms, which is pretty sufficient for a 19 year old like me to substantially communicate my thoughts and feelings, through wall posts and shares. The world hears enough about my eating habits, love for funny animal videos, and constant need for sleep–they don’t need pictures of it.


The lack of frequent photography in my life also stems from my exceptional talent… of taking horrible photographs. I can take a delicious piece of apple crumble pie and make it look like it’s just crumbling. My friend from Canada once told me, “Maia, none of your photos have any focus at all.” All I could reply was, “I was just trying to get everything in the picture!” What more if I was taking it for the precious square of Instagram? I felt so unworthy.

Don't leave your iPhone with me. (Via giphy)

Instagram, like most social media accounts today, has a secret competition going on among its users―acquaintances and frenemies that lurk on each other’s feeds to compare who has nicer pictures or who looks happier on their respective vacations. I do it, too! And while we’ve all heard of hate reading, I like to think of it as “positive stalking.”

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Recently I developed a new habit of stalking beauty bloggers and vloggers, making a mental note of all the articles of clothing or brands of makeup they had that spoke to me on an otherworldly level, and then trying to find them for myself. In fact, seeing one of Kryz Uy’s outfits with cute white sneakers showed me the item’s true beauty and made me want to get my own pair―they’re on my feet as I write this article. (She likes mom jeans, too, which I want, but I don’t know if it will fit me.) Her passion for the craft of personal brand building also showed me that Instagram isn’t all about the competition; social networks have the potential for the positive, too.

Aside from allowing me to immortalize memories, like that historical first ride through Hogwarts castle in Universal studios or my favorite white sneakers that are getting dirtier by the second, Instagram can be another avenue for me to exercise what Time magazine called “the Happiness Effect.” Culled from an experiment among Facebook users, it states that if a person is exposed to positive behavior or emotions from another person’s posts, then they are more likely to feel more positively themselves, which they might express in their own posts or actions.


Like this, but with barbecue. (Via giphy)

Come to think of it, the Happiness Effect is working on me. The same way all the blogs and vlogs I follow inspired me to update my wardrobe, I figured I could probably do the same and finally start my own Instagram. Aside from posting my outfits, I’m going to have pictures of my dog and videos of me eating food. I went to Japan with my family and we had a yakiniku barbecue, which I plan to edit with Set Fire To The Rain by Adele in the background. I vow that my future feed will be filled with smiles–rather than the common fierce or pensive expressions. In a way, get my voice and own personal brand out to the world, keeping it positive the whole time.

To solve my photography problem, a friend of mine in Manila who has actual talent for photography has been teaching me how to get behind the camera. After jokingly mimicking her photo-taking stance–kneeling to get the right angle–she looked at the pictures I took on her SLR and told me, “You’re getting better!” So, hey, I’m learning. I may even invest in a new pair of mom jeans.


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