According to a 2015 report by Instagram, the image-sharing app has reached 300 million active monthly users who collectively post an average of 70 million photos each day. The report also states that since its launch in 2010, over 30 billion photos have been shared. These stats are likely to grow as the app’s reach continues to increase, so if you’ve never posted a photo or don’t yet have an account, chances are you will soon. These numbers also stand to raise questions about the inevitable byproducts like internet stalking, the limitations of personal privacy, and the longterm effects that exposure to social media can have on its users.
It’s easy to focus on the negative implications of voyeurism, and to say that those 30 billion photos indicate that the world is largely image-obsessed, but social media does have a positive effect. Scrolling through sure does help to pass the time, but apps like Instagram also have the ability to make the world smaller, connecting people with their old friends, friends they haven’t met yet, their idols—and sometimes to their dreams.
Such was the case with the star of this story, Meredith Mickelson. When she started her first social media account on Instagram three years ago, she was living in a small town in Georgia. She used her account to post selfies and ask models she admired for career advice. Somehow, she acquired a loyal following of 702K followers. Mickelson says that she has the app to thank for her subsequent modeling contract with New York Models and the majority of jobs that she’s been booked for since. “Social media has shaped my career in so many ways.” she says. “I was so sheltered growing up and using it made me able to connect with the world.”
Meredith is in 99.9% of the photos that she posts on Instagram and she makes sure to publish new content nearly everyday. She also dedicates time to answering questions from aspiring models and fans, who reach out to her for advice just like she used to do. “I love talking with my followers because I have been in their shoes and I know exactly how happy I used to be when people replied to me,” she says. “Being able to connect with so many people is definitely the thing I love the most about social media. When I sit back and think about it, it blows my mind how far using it has got me, so the thought of helping someone else do the same makes me really happy.”
Yet even someone like her feels the pressure of life through a lens. A quick scroll through her feed paints a picture of a fun, glamorous life in which her skin, hair, and mood are always perfect. But she insists that she’s not always photo-ready and some days, she doesn’t feel like posting at all. “A lot of people compare themselves to each other through social media and think that people with big followings like me never have a bad day, but we do. Some days you feel like nothing is going right and you just don’t feel like sharing it. Social media can make us feel like we’re so different, but inside everyone is pretty much the same.”
The key to finding a happy balance, she says, lies in finding a way to show only what you want people to see and never letting unrealistic notions of #Instagramlyfe be the boss of you. Along with more practical ideas like counting to ten before you press ‘Share,’ Meredith says to publish only what truly appeals to you. “Social media is a celebration in individuality and only you have the ability to control what you do or don’t share with the world,” she says. “So stop worrying about creating a perfect post and just post whatever is perfect to you.”
It’s good advice, but in this fashion story we imagine a slightly different scenario: Meredith photographed trying on the best lingerie for Summer 2016. Shot from the outside looking in, it’s a voyeuristic look and a reminder that although you can control what you post, the biggest peril of social media is that you can never really control what the rest of the world posts of you.END
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createdAt:Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:59:14 +0000