Ask Natalie

Instagram Got You Insta-Depressed

DEAR NATALIE: I have a bit of a problem when it comes to living on my Instagram account. Everywhere I go, I seem to have Fear Of Missing Out. Everyone seems to be doing better than me. Better dinners out, better vacations, better clothes, etc. I love seeing what my friends are doing, but I feel waves of jealousy. It's not a good look. I don't know what to do. My life is not at all interesting. Any advice? -- FOMO MADNESS

DEAR FOMO MADNESS: I need you to back away slowly from the smartphone. Just set it down. You can do it. I believe in you. You are not alone. I think the whole country needs an instabreak. The sick part is that we rail against the media for photoshopping pictures and creating unrealistic standards to live up to. Well guess what? 

We are the media, all of us, and when given the opportunity to make that sunset a little more vibrant, or our thighs a little smaller, or our skin a little smoother, or our dinners a little more glamorous, we do it. We have set the bar so high that we are the culprits in curating our own lives just to impress the online world. My soon-to-be teenage stepson tells me that unless his friends' photos hit a certain amount of "likes" on Instagram, they delete them. They are so worried about people seeing a photo with less than 45 or 50 likes that they literally wipe those memories from their phones. 

We are all living online now, and reality is a break from the faux-realness we have created on our social media accounts. It is unhealthy and depressing. Of course you would feel like you are missing out when everyone's photos are of vacations, dinners out and fabulous events. But guess what? 

You and I both know that isn't reality. They aren't posting the other 23 hours of their day when their kids throw cereal all over the floor, when their car breaks down on the way to a job interview or when they have a pimple the size of Montana on their chin. Come on, this is life. I recommend going on an instadiet. Limit your time on social media to one hour or less a day. I find that when I leave my phone at home or turn off notifications, I breathe easier and feel less anxiety. After all, if it isn't fun, why do it? 

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Can't afford the ticket price to charity events that double as good networking opportunities? Ask to volunteer at the event. Help sell tickets, help set up the event, get your foot in the door that way. Many times, you will be given a seat at the table because of it and most likely will meet the people running things. They're the ones you want to network with in the first place! 

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to nbencivenga@post-gazette.com or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)

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