Lady Smarts: Instagram, Uncropped and Unfiltered

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A serious malady is striking smartphone users around the city

Are you between the ages of 18 and 35? Female? Male? If you answered yes to one of these questions, then chances are you've tried Instagram. Whether you've merely dabbled in the occasional filter here and there or are already a full-blown Instagrammaddict, I'd like to take a minute to address a growing concern.

Instagrammaddiction (known as Instaddiction on the street) affects both men and women. It strikes in moments of boredom, excitement, and loneliness alike. No one is truly safe from the Bermuda Triangle left in the wake of its feed.

Unfortunately, Instagram's mode of consumption allows for constant usage to be discreet-a little refresh in the bathroom, a Like under the table at dinner, a scroll on the treadmill-all done from your portable and inconspicuous phone. You could be doing ANYTHING on there. Texting. You could be texting. (Tee hee.)

Instagram's fleeting feed creates a sense of immediacy, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it intrigue, that only adds to its addictive potential and makes users even more desperate for a quick fix. As is often the case, Instaddiction can be a gateway to even more time-consuming black holes, like Diptic or PicStitch, in which one combines multiple photos, using varying filters and text. Such experiments have been known to lead to hours of lost time. Blackouts. Migraines.

I'd like to tell you there's an easy cure for Instaddiction, but unfortunately I cannot. At this time there is no cure, but if treated early, Instaddiction can be managed. Instaddicts have been known to go on to lead healthy, active lives. (Though, like, give it a few years.)

So, what makes one at risk for Instaddiction?

Do you live in Brooklyn? Enjoy making your own jewelry? Are you an aspiring model, stylist, or foodie? Are there professional foodies to aspire to? Is there a union? A foodie guild? Sorry, I digress. Blame Instagram-it thrives off our digressions.

The fact is, Instaddiction strikes when you least expect it.

Signs that you or a loved one may be suffering from Instaddiction are as follows: trying to "refresh" during boring lapses in conversation; an unhealthy obsession with "I Follow Rivers" by Lykke Li; a propensity to stare, cross-eyed-close, at flowers, animals, and home décor; the tendency to paint and repaint one's nails 10-15 times during the day; scrolling eye spasms when trying to maintain direct eye contact; saying the word "hashtag" out loud. Ever.

Instaddiction is serious, and if left untreated, it can be dangerous. In rare cases, Instaddicts have travelled so deep into Instagram that they never found their way back. Oh, who cares how it works! You've all seen Inception.

Once you've identified yourself or a loved one as an Instaddict, it's time to go cold turkey. Rest assured, the first several hours of withdrawal will be the most difficult. The world will seem cold and unfriendly to an Instaddict with no pop-up notifications for affection. Those in withdrawal can often be identified by the phantom tapping of their fingertips. Be kind to them.

Instaddicts are also advised not to look at themselves directly in the mirror during withdrawal, as their unfiltered image may be hard to accept. Traumatizing, even.

Going InstaClean:

1. Put your phone in Airplane mode. No one calls you anyway.

2. Stop showering. Don't brush your hair. Commit to one outfit for the week and do not change. Wash it only if you spill. (The sooner you don't want to have your photo taken, the sooner you will stop taking photos of yourself.)

3. Eat your food. It sounds simple, but it may take some getting used to.

4. Keep your fingers busy. Take up origami. Cats Cradle. Chinese finger traps. Smoking. Whatever it takes!

5. Use your phone to call someone. Try a landline.

If you do not see an improvement after a week of treatment, discontinue your cellular data plan and disable your wireless. You may want to seek professional help. Or buy a Blackberry.

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