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From Instagram Video (IGTV) to Instagram Reels, Instagram upgrades more and more as time goes on. As a social media advocate and frequent consumer, I enjoy staying in tune with the new updates of the app, as well as other social platforms. Instagram is just one of the ways to connect with like-minded creators who also appreciate the value of sharing their truth. A user can prioritize connection when they shift their mindset from social-comparing to social sharing.

This past year, I decided to take a step outside of my comfort zone and express myself in the social media world. Before then, I used social media to show off only the best photos and highlight reels from my life rather than my imperfections. During this time, social media had a much more negative impact on my life. It never felt like a form of social connectedness but more of a game, a pastime and part of life that you had to keep up with. It is evident from many studies that social media does, in fact, lead to mental health problems. However, is there a healthier way to use social media without these negative effects? I began to feel empowered to pave a new path for myself and those around me. 

So, I started creating. I had to get over the “cringe” factor and just trust myself to start trying. As my creation gained more momentum, I realized that beneath all the cringe and criticism was discovering my passion of inspiring others. It took time, but eventually I figured out how to authentically communicate and attempt to give others the confidence to do so as well. Today I enjoy speaking about my thoughts on certain topics, like fitness, and spreading the information that I learn through my daily commitment to self-growth. Most days I feel more connected when I log onto the app, and my freedom to create always leaves me feeling energized to push through discomfort. Eventually, I realized that you can truly create a new identity and direction with the social tools that are available today. If anything, I am more than appreciative to have a service where I can create, influence and inspire on the go.

While social media still includes instant gratification, it is instantaneous with a greater purpose. Not only can likes now be hidden, but there are growing features that allow you to create your best self on the app. For example, new filters, post contributors, easy direct messaging and sharing just about anything allows you to express yourself in new ways. Perhaps the era of hyper fixating on likes can be a thing of the past, and we can enter a new era of posting what is real and authentic. The conversations that I engage with, including sometimes with other creators, is something that I hold with higher value than the basic metrics of likes and comments. It is now easier than ever to share inspiration instantaneously with new or old acquaintances. 

It is with the growth of the once basic social media app that has created a wider space for more creators to share their work with society. Today, the app is flooded with 500,000 influencers and 1 billion users with 87% of them actively posting content. As the app is growing with more users every day, I see the benefit of a virtual community even more. This sense of community is an important part of our well-being and sense of identity. Being a part of something greater than ourselves leads to a greater feeling of safety, connectedness, belonging, influence and opportunity. Instagram, among several other platforms, provides this sense of community with more creators being allowed to share their personality and work. Businesses and creative entrepreneurs are even experiencing the advantages, as 44% of local and small brands are being discovered by in-app users. A gathering of business and personal brand entities are a few of those being changed by the platform.

In that case, I choose to log on with a greater feeling that I am able to make an impact. Instagram is a place where you can grow your vision and create more content while creating yourself. You can visualize your own life while being inspired by others across that world. Social media is one of the ways that I am able to connect and create which are two very important values that I guide my life by. Although it can be a double-edged sword, with multiple studies proving that screen time leads to poor “physical health, emotional well-being, personal relationships and even job performance,” it is a valuable tool in society. It only takes the instant act of posting or searching to discover something new or express something new within yourself. The positive light on social media is only growing as the apps are expanding into a community a whole lot greater than just the simplicity of the click, like and share.

As I venture through the virtual world on social media and continue to create, I hope my actions can inspire others. This barrier-free platform is an important element of social connectedness, art expression and inspiration. How you choose to frame the platform and explore its limits is key to feeling fulfillment on Instagram and social media broadly. We can explore news, products, brands and new friends with the touch of our fingertips to a few color-coded buttons. We can share our truth within a matter of minutes. We can showcase our adventurous lives, spirit and values as we journey through a time of collaboration and valuable virtuality. Lastly, we can find a tool that lets us propel our lives forward by creating our best lives. We can join in on conversations that aren’t available within physical reach and find inspiration to enhance the things in our reach. Social media is more than the like, share and repeat cycle; it’s a movement, and I am on board.

Maddie Wein is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at