I went to Waitrose the other day with my mother. It was to buy bread. I was wearing my big fur coat on top of my pyjamas, which I had tucked inconspicuously into my UGG boots. It was not my best moment. Coming up to the bread aisle, we came across the flowers section. Pretty flowers, I thought. Then I continued strolling towards the carbs, and sneaked some scones into the basket. Then I added some crumpets, you know, just in case.

On the way to the checkout, I passed those flowers again. Pretty flowers, I thought. I hesitated. I looked around. Quickly, I picked up the most expensive bouquet and took a photo of it on my phone.

I cropped it enough so my hand was clearly visible but any sign of Waitrose wasn’t, applied a filter that made the flowers look extra vibrant, and uploaded it onto Instagram.

“Surprises like this <3 #luckygirl”

Pathetic, right? I know it is. But do you know what, at least I’m honest enough to admit it. I did that. Why did I do it? I don’t know. Did it make me feel better? For a few hours, yes.

Six months ago, I never understood the point of Instagram. Why would I want complete and total strangers to see photos of me? The whole concept seemed very bizarre. But once I got on it, I became addicted. I became addicted to a world which is entirely fake.

The façade of Instagram begins at the “bio” that you are asked to write about yourself. Every other person says that they are a “model” and an “entrepreneur”, whereas in reality they are regular attendees at the Job Centre. Companies giving you free detox tea does not classify you as being a “model”; it just means companies don’t bother paying for a real model to get their product known because you are willing to provide your services free of charge.

Yet Instagram never fails in making us feel poor. We sit here scrolling through profiles in our half an hour lunch break, watching Instagrammers doing nothing (but posing next to a carefully placed packet of detox tea) uploading pictures of wads of cash. These entrepreneurs have pictures carrying Chanel bags as they eat dinner in places where a spoonful of rice costs our monthly wage. “Just a regular Friday night dinner #caviar” they caption. Unbeknownst to us, they spent their entire month’s wages to splash out on that one dinner, but we spend the rest of our day contemplating the purpose of our lives and where we went wrong.

And if feeling poor wasn’t bad enough, Instagram is also the best place to feel fat and lazy. You would think the girls on there were born doing squats; they upload photos doing gymnastics on the treadmill as their hair sways in time to the music, but in reality, how many of them are actually waist training? How many are actually working out at the gym every day? How many of them actually lift 100kg while twerking to achieve that body?

In fact, how many of their bodies actually look like that in real life? Because I know for a fact that no one actually looks as great as they look on Instagram. We could… if we could walk around with the Valencia filter on our face at all times. But unfortunately technology has not yet advanced to that level. Hiding behind that one perfect selfie is a camera roll filled with hundreds of photos in similar poses, some where your nose looked a bit bigger and some where your arm looked a bit fatter. Those selfies are probably a better representation of how you look on a daily basis. Everyone claims they “woke up like this”, but they didn’t really wake up with a head full of extensions clipped in and wearing a Wonderbra. (If they did, that would be a very uncomfortable night’s sleep.) Admit it: everyone edits their photos, captioning where they got their foundation from when really they got it from the makeup editing app.

But we believe them. We go and buy that flawless foundation and press the follow button. Oh, it is a joyous occasion when you get a new follower! I wonder if people get the same feeling of elation when they buy theirs- because that’s how some of the most popular accounts on Instagram started. Shocking! Here we were, believing that our likes had a direct correlation with how pretty we were, when we could have bought that approval all along! Who said money can’t buy happiness, eh?

So let’s face the reality: we all need to stop uploading motivational pictures about worshipping and praying, and use that time to actually worship and pray. We need to stop uploading pictures to make it seem like we are having the best time- stuck in this constant competition to have the best life- because if we put our phones away, we probably would enjoy ourselves a hell of a lot more.

Anyone who is working really hard doesn’t have the time to put a picture of it up on Instagram; only us procrastinators have time to do that. People who are truly happy don’t need likes to confirm it. People who are really working hard at the gym don’t have the time to take videos of it.

And yet, still, we are here. We shamelessly bare our private moments (and for some, our private parts) for complete strangers to give us approval. We buy into this fake happiness, fake popularity and this fake world. What does it help us achieve? Nothing. But we desperately use an app to try and put a filter on our real life.

My conclusion is what you all already know deep down inside: it’s all bullshit. We all put up these photos to impress old enemies and ex boyfriends or potential new enemies and new boyfriends. None of us are happy. In fact, the more photos we upload, the unhappier we are.

So saying all of that, please do follow me on Instagram to see my fake filtered life. My username is QueenMehreen. I’m not really a queen; I am a teacher… but it does rhyme which is quite cool. My bio says I’m an actress, model, teacher, scientist, doctor and some other stuff. But I’m not even up to the detox tea level in my career yet.

And I didn’t go to Waitrose to buy the bread with my mum. We don’t shop at Waitrose; it’s too expensive. We shop at Tesco. But that goes to show, the internet can make you believe anything.

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