Instagram + Green-Eyed Monster


Instagram! Are you in on the action? I just started (@sanaeishida) but I don’t know what I’m doing at all. I couldn’t load it on my iphone for some reason, so it’s on my ipad, which makes picture-taking a rather awkward ordeal. I took a profile pix of myself when I was trying to do something else, and “liked” one of my own photos by mistake. And what’s a private user? I’m basically a mess.

I tentatively selected a few folks to follow and then had to stop and ask myself why I wanted to plunge myself in what seems like another time-robber. I love Pinterest for the visual inspiration that floods me, but I often have to step away from all the prettiness to dial down the expectations of how my own life should look. I’m digging the idea of capturing photo-based moments easily in a communal way. But I think what could make Instagram dangerous — much like any social media — is the feelings of inadequacy it can generate, more so than blogs or Pinterest because IG posts are supposedly instantaneous, real-time depictions of one’s day-to-day. It’s easy to forget that it’s another way of curating our lives for an audience. For example, I started following Alice Gao, the it girl photographer with talent oozing out of her pores. And then immediately, my little sewing-drawing-blogging-writing existence paled in comparison to the beautifully composed shots of her jet-setting, glamorous life. And is it my imagination, or are some of the photos from DSLR cameras? They look too perfect.

On the flip side, I’m also fabulously inspired – the woman creates art with photography whether it’s with a mobile device or fancy camera, there’s no question. It totally makes me want to up my photography game. That initial feeling of “why is my life fuddy duddy and why do my ipad images suck!!??” made me ponder the whole notion of jealousy.


Have you ever wondered why jealousy and envy are associated with the color green? Some posit that Shakespeare coined the association through The Merchant of Venice and Othello, others cite Greek origins of the feelings inducing bile, hence the hue. To break up the text because I’m blathering on and on yet again, I went around the house taking photos of green and green-ish household objects…


Lately, K has started to remark, “I feel jealous!” about certain things. When we go buy a gift for her friend’s birthday, for instance, or if I pay more attention to someone else. It’s actually one of the reasons I wrote my “enough” post, but the green-eyed monster is a big subject. It all falls under the same general topic I’m aware, but there’s something particularly taboo about jealousy, don’t you think? In many ways, I find it so refreshing that K openly declares her feelings because we all feel it.

Okay, so technically, coveting a friend’s birthday present would fall more into the envy arena, where as jealousy is often defined as a fear of having something we value taken away (e.g. a romantic partner or a parent’s attention). It could also be the fear of being replaced, as in “she’s a much better version of me and people will like her more”. Be it envy or jealousy, it’s all coming from a place of lack.

I remember when I was about six-years-old, I used to draw princesses all the time. It was an obsession. Crowns, gowns, sparkles and more. It was the only thing I could draw well, which is why I did it over and over and over. And I had this friend (also age six), who one day decided she wanted to draw princesses too. Swiftly, she wielded her pencil and produced a princess remarkably similar to mine, and I was mortified. Princesses were my thing.  How dare she draw one so well without any practice (at least I didn’t think she had practiced)? I worked so so hard on my princesses. My six-year-old self couldn’t have possibly articulated the feelings in any mature way, so I refused to speak to her for days. Jealousy. I was threatened by her natural talent, annoyed that I wasn’t special, worried that I could be easily replaced should there be a need for sparkly princess illustrations.


On the envy side, I distinctly recall a period from about 2007 to 2008 when it seemed like everyone I knew was buying a house. We, on the other hand, were bopping from one apartment to another, each one more dismal than the one before, and florescent green coursed through my blood. I pestered M about buying a house because we could have certainly scrounged up enough for a down payment, and thank goodness for his financial savvy because he had predicted the bubble and recession eons before (I call him “Muffy” – a play on my nickname for Warren Buffet: “Buffy”). I was thoroughly operating from that thing people call the “scarcity mentality”. I would troll real estate listings, drooling over turn-of-the-century Craftsman homes completely updated with charming details intact, and bemoan how awful our apartment was. M turned a deaf ear to me.

So a couple of interesting things happened in relation to those two tales. Once I got over princess-gate, I realized I needed to expand my artistic repertoire. I started to practice drawing animals (wearing princess gowns, but still). I practiced sketching anything and everything that caught my eye. I also thought about what else I could be good at despite my tender six years. I explored, and it was fun. It turned out that I was good at many things, like telling stories and mopping and creating pretend make-up from plants.


In 2010, we found our current house through a series of mishaps, which I might tell you about one day, but it was a pretty depressing time and it’s not very interesting. Our house is a rental, but it’s just right for us. Sure, it could be spiffied up a bit as I’ve mentioned, but we love living here. The envious feeling? Poof. Completely gone.

It’s not breaking news that the envy and jealousy we feel has everything to do with what we perceive to be missing in ourselves. There was plenty of room for multiple princess-drawers in our neighborhood when I was six; what I intrinsically felt was that without that particular skill — if anyone could do it — I wasn’t unique enough. Because deep down, I was and am afraid that I am unremarkable and forgettable. I know that’s not true and it’s not true for anyone, but believing in oneself has got to be the hardest human task out there.

As for the house-envy, it was never about owning a house or keeping up with friends (at least not much). It was about feeling settled and free and part of a community. In our prior residences there was an inherent sense of impermanence and restrictiveness, so I was untethered and stifled, if you will. K’s cries would bother neighbors and I tiptoed around, feelings of resentment building. We still rent, yes, but we’ve landed on a spectacularly unusual situation in a great area – here we feel settled and free and part of a community.


Essentially, I’d love to be like K — so open and accepting of her feelings. “I feel jealous,” she says, in the same breath as, “I feel hungry” and then she just moves on. Jealousy and envy frequently invade my emotions and my reactions to them are more complex. Over the years — through hits and misses — I’ve been working on trying to identify what’s missing in me when the feelings take over. What is it about the other person that I want? What’s the need in me that is coming up empty? It’s tough work because sometimes the answer isn’t straightforward, and it’s so very unpleasant to feel the emotions, but it can be a propeller of positive actions too. Perhaps with instagram the green-eyed monster will take up semi-permanent residence, but I’m already seeing the potential for magnificent inspiration. I’m excited by the prospect of using technology and connectivity to share my own unique perspective .

Jealousy and envy — they are teachers that ask the important questions: What do you really want to pursue? Who do you truly want to be? What do you need to do to make your life better? And perhaps the most important questions is, What can you be grateful for?

And it’s my job to answer them.




13 thoughts on “Instagram + Green-Eyed Monster

  1. Here I am, a very green eyed monster, drinking macha latte! I can tell you what I felt like when I read that you are on instagram now – I was like nooooooooooo! Felt totally left out, jealous, envious, everything! 😉 So you gave me a very good oportunity to face such feelings and deal with them :-). I noticed, that many bloggers I like are using instagram and that instagramming (is that a word?) seems to be the new blogging. I feel like everybody is going to that cool party and I am not invited….I know, I could go too, but….my mobile is really old, no ipad here and more important what would I take pictures of that somebody (anybody!) would want to see? Also the dangers of addiction and and time-eating…. Sigh. But you are right, there is also potential to be inspired and to be connected (something I really love about this community!) and everyone who uses it has the chance to use it for something good (for example Fashion revolution day!) and not participate in anything that makes them feel bad about themselves. I like the photos you posted so far! I think there are special lenses you can buy for your iphone and they produce such great photos like with a DSLR. And I would be a total mess, too! I had a friend explain twitter to me and I still don´t get it! So have FUN with that new medium, be inspired and explore that new world! Maybe with a little green monster on your shoulder…

    1. And have you seen Jillian´s Gratefully Grateful posts on her blog? Something like that would be phantastic for instagram, too! (I seem to be thinking about that instagram a lot ;-))

      1. Uncanny, Ute! I was actually thinking of doing something similar with watercolor paintings on IG – serendipitous indeed. Maybe this means I need to do it 🙂

    2. Ha, that’s another element of social media platforms that I noticed and feel uncomfortable about: there’s a sense that the cool kids are partying it up together and it can become a numbers game of how many people are following who (i.e. how popular am I?)? But yes, as with anything and as Alexis and you both said, you can use it positively in a way that suits you. I hope I can do that!! And don’t worry Ute, you are very, very cool and definitely part of the party. 🙂

  2. Sanae,
    I had to chime in because these are all of my feelings exactly. In fact, just last week I had this very same conversation over email with another sewing blogger. So, lest I sounds like a hypocrite, I may end up joining instagram. But here are many reasons why I haven’t.

    I actually was on Instagram and quit. For one, I kind of don’t get it. Most of my “real life” friends don’t get it. “Why can’t you just live your life instead of having to post photos of it.” That does feel very present, you know? My husband says, “Millenials can’t go to the bathroom without posting it on social media.” He sees it as a reflection of a weak sense of self, and a need for validation in everything.

    I totally see it as a time sucker, too. It was for me when I was on before. And, I too, was telling my husband, “Why do people love looking at only pictures (few words) of people’s supposedly perfect life, and in particular, all of their perfect ‘stuff’.” It feels very materialistic and consumeristic to me. I just don’t like that part of it at all. And actually my husband has a great job and we have everything we need, so that doesn’t not at all stem from jealousy. I see our culture as already being so materialistic and “things” oriented and I don’t like it at all. It feels so superficial to me.

    On the other hand, I know of one Instagrammer who wants to “keep it real” and posts her pregnancy cankles or bedhead and dark circle and I’m like, “No thank you. Why do I want to see this?”. See? Time sucker.

    Finally, if you are using your iphone, especially in low light, the picture suck. They suck. And yes, people are //definitely// using their DSLR cameras and uploading the photos to Instagram. I know for a fact that photographers do that. Not on all of their photos but on some, for sure. When I was on Instagram, my photos looked artsy on a 2″x2″ platform, but when I uploaded them to my computer, they were awful. And I’m thought – this is not the kind of history I want to preserve of my family life. So I quit Instagram.

    I have to agree with Ute above that I’m a little bummed that so many people love it. Because, like I said, I just don’t get it and bloggers I used to love have essentially stopped blogging to go to Instagram. Last week when this convo came up with another sewing blogging I did some research and read 90% of user are under the age of 35. And my husband’s right that that age group does in particular love to put everything on social media. I also read the demographic skews toward women and one report said 58% are /wealthy/ women (I think only 10-15% of the population uses Instagram). So maybe to that demographic, seeing other people’s awesome and perfect stuff inspires them to buy more or better awesome and perfect stuff? It doesn’t make me jealous, I just don’t understand the appeal.

    But because it has become the new blogging in some ways, I’ve wondered if I should give it another chance. So I have considered joining.

    1. I was thinking about my loooong comment (sorry about the typos – commenting with kids underfoot is dangerous!) 🙂 and feeling like a hater. I do see the appeal of connecting with others in your niche, being inspired, and sharing artistic images. I really do. I was only listing some of the reasons I have been hesitant to re-join, though there are many other great reasons to get on board with it, too. 🙂

      1. No hating happening at all, Rachel! I think your points are completely valid and I’ve thought about them myself re: living in the moment vs. capturing it via phone, the hideous quality of mobile device images, trying to decipher the point of IG…and I love learning about the demographics and statistics. So interesting! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I so appreciate these discussions!

  3. Ah yes, you want to be careful with that glamorous life bit. This is spoken from the blog less pinterestless point of view, just so you know. I have similar thoughts as you do. On the one hand there is the instant, spontaneous factor. I’m also thinking that the new instant looks quite curated, worked, designed, posed. The other issue is the instant sharing. What about allowing ideas to gestate and grow before you unveil them? Now it seems as if I’ve got to, or rather one should ideally get out there as a professional in the big leagues right away. And there is the time involved too, not just looking at other peoples lovely photos, but time feeling like less than a participant I your own life, and then having to talk yourself back on track.

    Those are just thoughts and not fully formed opinions or anything. That said I do a lot of the things you do and enjoy. I love photography, I’m staring sewing for my two daughters, seven and three year olds, knit a lot, read books, cook and try new food, work in the garden, enjoy the ballet, do ice dance, in my spare time and sometimes I wonder if I might enjoy something like a blog, or Instagram.

    1. It sounds like you might enjoy having a blog or instagram since you have such varied and fun interests, Max. As for allowing ideas to gestate, I’m definitely someone who mulls over something before sharing, and am probably not totally cut out for the spontaneity of IG (Pinterest, for some reason, doesn’t feel quite as personal for me so I don’t even think of it as a social media platform). But I can see myself using it as a sort of mini-blog of posting things that may not quite work with my blog format but is still of value to me. Hmmmm – love these comments!

  4. It really depends on your perspective. If you believe IG (or any social media platform, actually), is really a platform where people post only spontaneous, unorchestrated, unedited snapshots representing their ordinary daily lives, you are bound to be disappointed (and, I agree, end up feeling jealous). I don’t expect it to be that. I see it as a place to share, and view, images that are beautiful, or inspiring, or interesting in a visual way — whether they are carefully staged or not. I have photographer friends who use IG to share their personal work –images (and yes, many are from DSLR and even film (gasp!) cameras) that they take for fun, that don’t make the final cut for a client or their professional website. I love seeing these. I have sewing friends who use it to share works, works in progress and to solicit opinions and crit. I use it for a little bit of everything — sharing, discussing, keeping up with friends’ baby photos, and getting inspiration. I have mostly given up regular blogging due to the fact that I have limited time and I felt that my blog was keeping me away from making art, so IG gives me a good platform to still share my work, without taking the time a blog would take. I think mostly any social media platform is what you make of it and take from it. There’s definitely not a need to use it if it’s not for you.

    1. I like your perspective and you’re totally right about using social media platforms in a way that makes sense for the individual. And I love the idea of posting outtakes like your photographer friend – what a great idea! Thanks for your comment, Alexis! It helps me wrap my head around how I’d like to use instagram 🙂

  5. i’ve actually been on instagram longer than i’ve been a blogger (and i’m a private instagrammer because of that – didn’t keep the same privacy standards that i have on my blog so i only allow people to follow me that i “know”). when i started on instagram, no one was on it, and there wasn’t much of a point to it. now, lots of our sewing blogger peeps are there posting stuff about their daily lives (not just sewing), in process projects (not just prettily staged finishes), asking for advice, supporting each other in sewing AND parenting, etc. you don’t have to follow anyone you don’t want to (if something seems “too perfect” or annoys you, unfollow! and photos should be taken with a grain of salt, just as in blogging. but yeah as i was telling rachel (i’m the mysterious “other sewing blogger” she mentioned, hehe) there are fun blog things that only came about because of conversations on instagram, not via email/blogging outright. the connections are fun and i feel like i get to know people better via instagram than their blogs. since you also seem to like getting to know the woman behind the blog, i think you’ll like instagram. like everything else, though, it’s about keeping perspective. and knowing that people may not want to put the crappiest part of their day out for everyone to see, they want to put the nice parts…and that’s okay. anyway glad to see you on there and i hope you like it!

    1. Wow, you’re a veteran instagrammer, Kristin! I know you wouldn’t steer me the wrong way, so I’m definitely open to trying it out 🙂 And yes, very interested in getting the behind-the-scenes goodness!

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