Everybody with Instagram knows that as much fun as it is looking at photos of gym junkies working out, or fawning over our favourite celebrities, it messes with our heads – big time.
Instagram has officially been labelled as the worst social media network for mental health and wellbeing. It’s been shown that social media is more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. This addiction can cause us to constantly and obsessively look at aesthetically pleasing photos on Instagram. It usually causes more harm than good. It’s a little ironic, isn’t it? Understanding Instagram’s affect on our mental health, self-love and idea of reality seems easy, but we always seem to give in (disturbingly) to its aesthetic charms. Here are the dangers we are creating for ourselves on Instagram:
The Desire for Fame
We’ve all wanted to be an Instagram influencer at some point. It seems like the dream life: you get paid to look good, travel and advertise a few luxurious brands here and there. Everyone wants to be you. The reality of course, is that we can’t all be influencers. But we’re all trying anyway, it seems. Jed* spoke to Chattr about this odd trend:
“In this generation, a large majority base their needs and wants around the life of celebrities, Insta-models and influencers.”
Deep down, we know that the airbrushed model on a beach vacation with perfect skin and a (supposedly) perfect life is far from reality. Regardless, we still model our aspirations and social media accounts based on influencer standards. These people we idolise covertly control the way we want to look, style our Instagram grid, and the brands and products we use.
Olivia* told Chattr that she always feels the need to wear different clothes in her photos. She feels pressure to stay thin and have lots of beach pictures on her Instagram so she appears similar to the influencers she follows. That’s a lot of effort just for a social media account.
People – especially us girls – are guilty of hiding airbrushing and editing apps on their smartphones, to alter and create the ‘perfect’ selfies and portraits for Instagram. These apps basically make us feel great about ourselves for several moments, until we remember we don’t actually look airbrushed in real life. There’s some real damage occurring here.
Elena* shared with us that “the rise of Instagram models”, such as Tammy Hembrow and Skye Wheatley, can significantly affect our perceptions of beauty. This can result in mental health struggles. We strive so hard to look like these models. However, the photos are staged and edited which creates a warped sense of truth for viewers. It all comes back to the idea of wanting to be like the beautiful people we follow on the Instagram.
Instagram Stories, similar to Snapchat Stories, were introduced
in 2016. These are live videos that are available for your followers to view for 24 hours. After this time they vanish. The problem with live videos is we tend to construct them similarly to Insta-famous people and celebrities, creating exaggerated displays of our days out. Again, in framing our Insta-stories in a copycat celebrity style, we are forgoing some sort of truth about ourselves and reality.
Using filters and striking unnatural poses glorifies our day to day activities. This has a misconstrued negative impact on the followers who watch our stories, such as a feeling of missing out, or manufactured jealousy. Sandy told Chattr that “whether you see your friend’s Insta-story showing them and other friends at a party you weren’t invited to, or if it’s a fit instagram model who gets millions of likes, including your boyfriend, it might make you feel jealous and excluded. Seeing other people appear to live their lives celebrity-style or seeing people looking (artificially) better than you will for sure cause some self doubt – no matter how self confident you are.”
Wise Tips for Using Instagram Safely
Owning a private Instagram account and following different kinds of people is a safe way to use this platform. A private Instagram account only allows close friends to follow a user. Olivia* shared with us that “having a private account for close mates really helps if you just want to post fun, humorous photos and videos without being judged by people you feel you need to prove yourself to.” Lara* added “I follow positive people that post about self improvement, travel, art and cooking and they make me feel good and motivated or inspired. I think Instagram, when used appropriately, is a really great app to share beautiful things with people around the world. You can feel like you’re part of something real.”
We need to remember that much of what we see on Instagram is embellished and fabricated. Take everything you see online with a pinch of salt. It probably isn’t as picture perfect in reality as it seems on your screen!