Instagram is a highlight reel

Everybody knows and loves Instagram, but nobody really knows what goes on behind the flawless posts we put out for our followers to see.


Evanthia Stirou

Instagram shows only the mere highlights of our lives, not our reality.

Ansley Morris, Associate Editor

What your followers see: A highly saturated, perfectly filtered photo of you, nonchalantly posed in front of a beautiful beach setting. The piercing blue waves are crashing on the beach, and the birds flying in the background might as well be paid actors with how well they blend into the background. Anyone scrolling through their feed would definitely stop and wish they were there, too.

The wind is blowing through your shiny, highlighted blonde hair, and you’re dressed head-to-toe in the same adorable set and jewelry from Revolve that you know everyone’s been wanting for months. Your skin is unblemished, nails freshly manicured— without a doubt, you look like you’re living your best life.

The reality: This is just one of over a thousand pictures taken in that photoshoot. The wind was making your hair a mess 98% of the time, there were constant photo-bombers walking by in the background, and that “perfect beach scene” reeked of red tide. Oh, and those birds so majestically flying in the background were only flying away after they stole the sushi you brought for your beach picnic. After carefully combing through the hundreds of photos for just one or two that you could view as IG acceptable, you throw that photo in Facetune, smooth out the giant pimple that showed up that morning, whiten your teeth, and now the shot is ready to be filtered.

The changes you make in lighting, clarity, and everything in between takes at least an hour, and finding the perfect filter to bring it all together was the final touch.

The moral of the story here is that the photos we all see and put out into the Instagram world are the mere highlights of our lives, or at least we make it seem that way. Nobody is perfectly filtered, and nobody is put together with a snatched waist in a designer outfit all the time. That’s the farthest thing from reality, and it’s time we stop trying to make it look like that’s how we live our lives.

In the images below, you’re going see “What Instagram sees”: the real photos that students at SSES, including myself, have put out on IG, followed by “The Reality,” or true story behind each camera click. Vulnerability is something that is rarely (if ever) seen on this app, and perhaps by shedding some light on the reality behind these IG posts, you can see that there are real people and stories behind each of these seemingly perfect pictures. These are real people, with real feelings and insecurities, just like everyone else on the app.

Ansley Morris

What Instagram sees: Me enjoying a beautiful sunset on the beach with my friend after going out to a nice dinner at Shore. The hues in the clouds and the sand complement the color schemes for both of our outfits which have been carefully coordinated. My hair is curled, makeup was done to give me that natural glow, and my face is the ideal representation of a happy, teenage girl without a worry in the world.

The reality: I was reaching one of the worst points of my eating disorder that no one knew I had at the time. I was counting down the seconds until the sunset so I could leave the fun time I should’ve been having with my friends so I could go home and purge the meal I had just had. The photos from this night, just like any others from this time period in my life, made me feel wildly insecure about myself. I picked apart every single thing I didn’t like about all of the pics until I could narrow it down to this and one other picture I deemed acceptable for IG.





Sophia Creneti

What Instagram sees: A post from then-8th grader-now-junior, Sophia Creneti, of a bunch of friends on the trip of a lifetime to Boston. The leaves are the perfect blend of fall colors, they’re dressed in their favorite, warm clothes they wouldn’t usually get to wear at home in sunny Florida, and the kids are all happy to be spending some quality bonding time together away from their parents.

The reality: “There was so much drama going on during this week. We took this trip at the beginning of the year when everyone is still on the coming-back-to-school high from not seeing each other all summer, but pretty much right after this trip, a lot of us in this picture weren’t friends.”







Elyse Skoumal

What Instagram sees: An impromptu photoshoot of junior Elyse Skoumal at a friend’s house. The setting is aesthetically pleasing with the strategically coordinated color scheme, and she has the perfect outfit to go along with it. The bright pops of pink and other fun colors, along with a seemingly upbeat smile, indicate that Elyse is living her best, confident life.

The reality: “While this picture was taken at a friend’s house, I was feeling extremely alone at this point in my life. About an hour after I posted this, my mom had to come pick me up and told me that many people were concerned about my weight. After this, I had to stop swimming, working out, and my life became a series of doctor appointments and the never-ending question of ‘Did you eat enough?’”






Charlie Sherrill

What Instagram sees: Seniors Charlie Sherrill and Conner Kitchner are posed on the top of Conner’s Jeep to make for a sick shot. They’re out exploring in the woods, as shown in Charlie’s location for the picture, and certainly making the most of their long weekend for Memorial Day.

The reality: “We were trying to pull something out of a river and Conner’s Jeep ended up getting stuck. We were sitting there for like forty-five minutes. It was fun, but we still definitely could’ve gone without the car getting stuck.”








Jake Pettingell

What Instagram sees: A sick action shot of senior Jake Pettingell flying through the air on his snowboard. He’s living it up on Spring Break with friends, family, and definitely finding no shortage of fun out in the snow.

The reality: “Literally right after this was taken, I got a concussion. I ended up in the ER and that pretty much meant an end to the rest of the fun I’d be having for my spring break.”









Whether it’s hidden friend drama, mental health issues, vacations cut short due to injury, or even car troubles, Instagram can be a snapshot of your best moments, but moments aren’t real life. Real-life is more complicated than that.

It would’ve been close to impossible to guess that any of the stories accompanying these photos were the reality behind the posts. But they are the truth. So next time you catch yourself feeling envious of how good someone looks, or how much fun they look like they’re having, remember that Instagram is a highlight reel, not real life.