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The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Social media as a scrapbook


Rather than creating an environment of toxicity, I treat my Instagram as a collection of pieces representing growth.

By Molly McFadden

Follow me on Instagram @_mollymcfadden. Do it. Do it right now.

Thank you! Now, keep it pulled up because this is an interactive story. A “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. 

Try to find a theme between my last three posts. A color scheme I often use or a template that fits each photo selection. I’d love to hear your thoughts because I can’t find one. And I don’t want to.

My account is one of rainbow colors and literary excerpts. Songs that shouldn’t coincide on the same playlist, yet do, and Reels of scenery and friends.

But to me – it’s perfect.

I think carefully crafting an Instagram collage might just be my favorite thing. I mix and match images of trees and quotes as I add to my virtual scrapbook. My account becomes an elementary school cut-and-paste craft, but not the cute Pinterest-worthy kind, the nitty-gritty bathed in glue kind. It’s the hand turkey you give to your mom on Thanksgiving, still sticky and covered in pink feathers.

I will spend hours editing images on VSCO and crafting designs on Canva before my posts make it to Instagram. There’s joy in finding creative ways to combine words and images to make glimpses of moments that represent me.

An excerpt from Alain De Botton’s “On Habit” overtop of a picture of Minneapolis puts into words how living in the city feels. The way my Reel from Belize switches between clips set to Ellie Holcomb songs captures what walking in the rainforest felt like. The word “faithful” stamped on photos, a truth I’m working to remember.

But how do I avoid the pressures and negativity that come with social media?

My like count is turned off.

The pictures are for me.

Just for me.

Aside from a screen of rainbows, my Instagram profile seems to have no rhyme or reason. With no theme, I feel free to post what I want. | Photo by Molly McFadden.

Communities around me are often full of granola, technology-hating people who consistently cycle through screen time limits and social media “cleanses.” Everytime I speak with them I hear about how great their life has been since they deleted Instagram and TikTok and Twitter and Tinder and Snapchat and the Weather app and whatever else is causing comparison. They have more time and feel better about themselves. That’s great, but why did they need to delete social media to feel that way?

The juxtaposition of finding so much room for creativity and expression in an app that others view as harmful and defeating leaves me in a position where I feel like I can’t be excited about it. It’s like every time I have a cathartic Canva session with photos from my trip to Michigan and I curate a post that lifts me up, I have this sinking feeling that in some abstract way, I’m feeding into others’ negativity.

While my collage from Michigan looks to represent a time of rest and joy, the trip was quite the opposite. The 36 hour journey consisted of fire starting, car pushing and tow truck calling. It was a mess, and my Instagram editing helped mend the Lake Superior shaped hole in my heart.

You don’t have to like Instagram, but I hope maybe you’ll see it through a different lens next time you post.

Delete the app and redownload it again two days later, or don’t.

I like it, so I put time into it.

And you should spend time doing the things you like.

God bless yah. Mark Zuckerberg bless yah.

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