Dakota Fanning has grown up in the limelight, but is purposefully staying out of the pale, rosy light of Earlybird. The Instagram filter, that is! In a cover interview with NYLON this month, the star of the new movie Effie Gray explained why she’s not on everyone’s favorite picture-sharing app.
To be honest (or #tbh, in Insta-speak), when I first read that Dakota is not on any social media, I was a little defensive. I love those apps. I love seeing what my friends are up to and being reminded when their birthdays are and being able to tell everyone exciting news — and, of course, posting a selfie where I feel particularly fly. Sometimes, it can seem like those who go on a social media fast are looking down on those of us who are addicted to the sites. But Dakota’s reasons for abstaining from social media just make so much sense! BRB, considering deleting everything social media (but you’ll tear Tumblr from my cold, dead hands, Dakota).
First of all, Dakota wants to be able to live in the moment. “I feel like if I did it, I’d start to measure my experiences by how good of an Instagram it’s going to turn into,” Dakota says in the NYLON article. “And I don’t want to be living my life trying to see it all in a square, trying to get a photo.” Anyone who’s ever watched another person take a selfie can understand that. There’s something crazy about someone pausing their real experience in order to make a post of a presentation of their experience.
In addition, Dakota fiercely protects her privacy. “I might not be running around being insane, but I’m also a 21-year-old who likes to be silly. Just because I don’t flaunt those parts of my life doesn’t mean I don’t do some of that privately, you know what I mean?” This is so wise — although not surprising, since Dakota has always had that old-soul-young-person thing going on. Anyone who’s had a Facebook profile for longer than three years knows how cringe-y it is to look back at old pics of things you thought were HILARIOUS back then. (There’s one particular photo shoot my friends and I did standing on a car with an American flag sophomore year of high school that I hope nobody ever finds again.)
Finally, Dakota thinks that the pressure on Instagram photos to show your best life totally takes the moment from fun to work. “You have to set the photo up, you have to take the photo, you have to edit the photo, pick the right filter, format it, caption it—like, too much! There are so many more things I could be doing!” This….is real. I’ve spend upwards of ten minutes getting a pic ready for Insta when I could have been, I don’t know, experiencing life.
Dakota even says it seems like a real job to maintain all the different profiles on social media we all juggle now. “Being Dakota isn’t a job,” she shrugs. “Being Dakota just is.”
Overall, Dakota seems to value authenticity, being in the moment, and sharing less private information in favor of having a fuller offline life. That’s a perspective I can get behind!
She’s not just making sense — Dakota’s points are backed up by cold, hard, science, too. People often will argue for Insta or Facebook by saying that it lets you stay connected with friends and even learn about opportunities. According to a study by Carnegie Mellon, however, only “directed, person-to-person exchanges” actually increased feelings of happiness, self-esteem, and job prospects. That is, a chain of comments that’s similar to a conversation, or a messenger convo. “Passive consumption,” like scrolling through somebody’s perfectly posed and filtered Insta pics, doesn’t give any social or material advantages, meaning it’s no different than staring slack-jawed at Netflix.
Instagram is even worse than Facebook in these respects. We’re much more likely to just look and be jealous and wish we were as happy and care-free as our friends on Insta, totally forgetting that in our most recent pic we used FaceTune to get rid of that pimple and angled the camera away from the mess in one corner of our rooms. We’re a lot less likely to have meaningful conversation over someone’s French toast #blessed pic.
Even Instagram’s own statistics agree. In 2013, they reported 8,500 likes per second and only 1,000 comments per second. That’s a lot more passive consumption than person-to-person interaction! It’s so much easier to compare yourself, to get obsessed with finding the right thing to post, even to worry about liking something someone else posted, when you’re super active on Insta and FB.
That’s not to say I’m going to delete my profiles, however. But Dakota’s convinced me to put down the phone for more time per day, at the very least, and try to remember that being myself isn’t a job.