If I didn't exist online, would I even exist at all?
The answer to this seemingly existential question is obvious. I'm a real human being with cheeks you can pinch and hands you can shake; I am a person that breathes and laughs and cries just like everyone else. However, after the intense integration of social media into daily life, it is hard to remember what legitimate validation feels like without "Likes" and "Retweets", and even harder to remember what privacy resembles in the wake of illicit iCloud hacks and scandalous Sony leaks.
The benefits of social media are plentiful. Facebook allows us to keep in contact with our friends across the country and around the globe; Instagram allows us to document our lives photographically whilst tracking the lives of those whom inspire us; Twitter allows us to condense our thoughts into short sound-bites and resonate with the insightful ideas of others. However, the complications and adverse qualities of social media are hard to ignore, especially when noting how styles of communication have completely evolved. Friends have difficulty maintaining eye contact when talking in person, nor will they relinquish their iPhones when the food arrives at the restaurant table; an individual's social status is questionably weighed by the quantity of his or her social media followers; first impressions are made by judging the highlight-reel of one's online profiles. Constant, insistent validation from our friends, foes, peers, and strangers in the form of "Follows" and "Favorites" lingers in the back of our technology-infused brains. The pressure to post - the urge to constantly document what is happening as it is happening - disallows us to actually enjoy the moment, in the moment.
Time and time again I seriously consider deleting all my social media accounts. After all, I don't have relationships with all of my Facebook "Friends", Instagram "Likes" are meaningless notions of gratification, condensing complaints into 140-character Tweets is a workout in itself, and now that Snapchat "Best Friends" can't be stalked, what's the point of it anyway? When I hover my fingers over my screens, tempting myself to erase almost my entire online existence, I can't. I won't. I don't. And I ask myself, Why?
I've always admired and appreciated the beauty in anonymity, but it is impossible to be anonymous when your life is documented on social media. Slipping under the radar promotes an indescribable feeling of freedom - yet to stay relevant in today's ever-evolving world, it's almost vital to be constantly plugged in. I will always value a face-to-face conversation over Emoji-laced text-messages; I am able to put down my phone without qualms to stare you straight in the eyes and appreciate the events as they unfold. On the contrary, however, I also admire those have mastered the art of the Instagram caption, those who can add emotion to #Hashtags and stimulate uncontrollable laughter in a six-second Vine video. Our world is evolving, and social change is manifesting on our handheld devices. Our apps are affecting the way in which we live as we Postmate our food to our doorway, Uber our way home and Netflix last decade's movies.
The singular app I adore most is Instagram. I follow people I don't know, people I'll never know, because their lives are interesting to me. By "Like"-ing their pictures, I'm not living vicariously through them but instead internalizing their way of living, appreciating that delicious scone they had for breakfast or drooling over their scenic vacation view.
As easy as it was for Hannah Sanders to gain social-media stardom or Eva De Nardi to share her sketches with the world, insiders from all corners of the intersecting fashion, art, and music worlds are opening up online. Trading their notorious exclusivity for welcoming transparency, silly #selfies and adorable #TBT uploads make models feel like life-long friends and real-time posts from the runway shows make followers feel as if they, too, are sitting #frow at #NYFW. Instagram has provided even the most average of individuals with a intimate inside look into the lives of the world's most elite. And, to keep you in the know of what is "in" and what is "out", I've highlighted the twenty-one Instagram accounts you need to follow today. Not tomorrow, not tonight, but right now.
the beauty insiders:
Molly Mintz photographed by Maddie Hicks at the Denver Art Museum.