As moms who rarely have time to socialize, let alone get a moment for ourselves, we can always find ourselves scrolling through our social media feeds from time to time, particularly Instagram. Cooking dinner? You perhaps once shared it in your Stories. Baby just started to walk? It's memorialized in a perfect little square on your feed for sure.
Instagram has been a popular favorite for everyone, most especially among social media savvy mothers. It's an undeniable fact that we ubiquitously populate the photo-sharing app. As of this moment, there are 40 million posts with the hashtag #momlife, and there are hundreds of thousands more that relate to this topic of interest like #realmotherhood #candidmotherhood.
It's crazy—it's like we live and breathe through Instagram, and it's easy to understand why. It's a fun and inspiring virtual world where we can relate to the valiant stories of motherhood, but notably, it's not always the case. Instagram can be either our friend or foe. Here are some ways Instagram helps and drags moms down when it comes to parenting.
10. INSPIRES: KEEPS YOU ON THE TREND
Back in the days, there weren't baby showers before birth or lavish parties that reveal the baby's sex. Your child turned one month? Great! Eleven months to go until you throw a Pinterest-worthy party. Instagram popularized plenty of trends that celebrate the life of your most precious baby.
Home birth, placentophagy, or eating your own placenta for post-partum health, and lotus birth in all its glory—you probably accepted these ideas thanks to picturesque mothers of Instagram who normalized them and made everyone see the beauty of these. Instagram revolutionized mothering trends. Whether we realize it or not, these trends are carved into our consciousness, saved into our memories, hoping at least someday we can give them a try and flaunt our own Insta-worthy moments.
9. INSPIRES: INTRODUCES YOU TO NEW THINGS
Before you dive into the deepest trench of Pinterest, you most probably have seen that house plant that's supposed to clean the air you breathe at home from a mom influencer. Or, probably, before you run a Google search for that new stroller brand, you must have seen them through Instagram ads popping out of nowhere.
Instagram is such a great tool for discovering new things that you didn't even know existed. And while you may not really notice it, after you scroll your own feed, you've surely clicked to that magnifying glass icon where a treasure trove of discoveries await. As you scroll, hundreds of ideas pop into your mind and there you are—once again hooked into Instagram's endless discover page.
8. INSPIRES: IT'S INFORMATIVE
Instagram isn't just a social media app. It's not only where we could share our puppy face-filtered photo trying to hide that tired, motherhood-style of a bare face. Aside from these cool and fun, raw and refined photos you see, Instagram is home to heaps of information.
If you run a search for breastfeeding, you'll see hundreds and thousands of photos of women, sharing one or a few ideas of how to breastfeed right. Babywearing, cloth diapering, vegan lifestyle—choose your interest and Instagram will deliver that information pronto. If you search for it plenty of times, the app learns that you're most particularly interested in this topic. It will continue to serve you more of these posts until you're trapped in this black hole, never realizing it's almost dinner time and you've got five loads of laundry waiting for you. Thanks a lot, Instagram algorithm.
7. INSPIRES: SHOPPING MADE EASIER
If you want to get some yoga pants shopping done while you find some #fitsporation, you don't have to leave this god-sent platform. Instagram lets you do all these things and more without leaving the app.
Instagram is a tool for shopping loved by moms, especially those who don't have time to get the kids all dressed, put in their car seats, and drive a few miles to a mall. It's easy as pie; all you have to do is type some keywords, and it's like you're in one of the world's biggest shopping centers. Most of the 700 million Instagram users aren't just engaged likers, they're commonly online shoppers so it's not surprising that a lot of businesses are striving to get a piece of that pie.
6. INSPIRES: LETS YOU KNOW YOU'RE NOT ALONE
What are the odds that there are at least two mothers in a household, right? Or, even if there is, considering your mom, sister, or mother-in-law living with you, at times, it's still hard to find someone whom we can truly relate.
Motherhood has changed so much and on Instagram, it's easy to find someone who can understand your journey. No mom is completely the same, but the pains and struggles, the hardships and triumphs that motherhood can bring—not every mom has the strength or even the time to share their stories. But Instagram moms? They're one of the best in this arena. It's just nice to have someone who matches our soul, and these times, you can do that even without personally meeting that person.
5. DISCOURAGES: CAN BE ALIENATING
Having said all these merits for Instagram, it's true that there can still be downsides to this visual platform, and the most evident of it all is that it can be alienating. It's a paradox, isn't it? Instagram is a tool for communication. It's a great platform to get our thoughts across, ranging from the deepest to the most mundane. But what it does is, still, alienate us from the reality around us.
Seeing those skinny, crunchy moms who seem to have their family lives together, thriving, it makes you wonder if you're the only one who struggles just to merely survive. The perfectly taken filtered photos of their doe-eyed, happy kids all in pristine white clothing will make you question if their kids ever create mess or noise. The fact is they do, they just hide it better than the rest of us.
4. DISCOURAGES: IT SETS RIDICULOUSLY HIGH STANDARDS
One of the reasons we keep on engaging in Instagram is because we love stories. People love the mix of narratives and visually compelling photos. That's the desired combination for an Instagram-worthy post, but we never realize that it can also be a recipe for disaster.
With the beautifully captured photos thatmake motherhood seems so easy, all shot from the most flattering angles, we are given the perception that these perfect moments are the new normal. And the fact that this is done by not one, but thousands of moms who can be well-versed in photo-editing and manipulating, doesn't really reflect the reality that millions of moms experience. Once upon a time, we were never pressured to do a full glam make up hours before giving birth, but now? It's slowly becoming the new mainstream.
3. DISCOURAGES: CONTENT CAN BE MANIPULATED
Content pays well in the Instagram world. Businesses have found Instagram to be particularly vital for their growth and they tap influencers to help them succeed. There's nothing wrong in being an influencer for the sake of profit. It's a decent and, in fact, a lucrative job that helps a lot of moms to serve something on their tables.
But the thing is in the process of creating these content, there's a risk that they may just rave about the brands that don't really live up to their claims, or just comply with the business' identity and bypass their own brand of motherhood. How many of the brands that Insta-moms recommend do you think really works? How many Insta-moms are forgetting their true selves just for the sake of paid content? We can never know for sure.
2. DISCOURAGES: IT DOESN'T PROVIDE THE WHOLE CONTEXT
With a limit of 2,200 characters or about 300 words on the average, it's impossible for someone to give the entire story behind one perfectly shot photo. Even if a picture says a thousand words, still, you won't know the entire context of that situation, and this can indirectly deceive a lot of vulnerable audiences.
On Instagram, we try to put our best photos, and, even if the subject is unpleasant, we try to glamorize it in the best ways we can. We're wired to show off the most flattering angles, and, while it's not necessarily bad, it ultimately leads some moms to question and compare themselves when they really shouldn't.
1. DISCOURAGES: IT CAN FUEL INSECURITY
If you have scrolled through an Insta-mom's feed, it's possible that you may have felt insecurity at one point or another. Insecurity, not in a hateful way towards the other person, but to yourself. You may have found yourself asking "why isn't my house as clean as hers?" or "why is her family so perfect than mine?"
We throw ourselves into our own pity party that ultimately harm our parenting ways. We compare and forget that we each have our own versions of motherhood. These Instagram mothers are just like the rest of us, dealing with all these mothering moments—the pretty and the bad, the good and the sad. They're still humans, like us, who are susceptible to flaws and mistake. Like us, they cry and stumble, and then try again until they get it right and rejoice.