What would social media be if you couldn’t know what your friend had for breakfast? Specifically, a photograph of french toast and an English muffin, selectively filtered, carefully cropped and hashtagged “#riseandshine,” for your viewing pleasure. Aesthetically, your simple bowl of cereal on that same morning does not compare to the snapshot of a sophisticated breakfast. Another one of your peers uploads vacation pics from a sunny paradise in another hemisphere, while you are stuck in rainy New York City.
While it is true that Instagram is the pinnacle of social networking and has revolutionized the way we connect with others through online platforms, it isn’t difficult to see some of the psychological evils which the app plays host to. There is a point where retrieving visual updates on your friends intersect with the human brain’s feelings of inferiority and resentment. As many psychologists would agree, Instagram triggers its users to feel social comparison, jealousy and envy of another’s life as it is portrayed through a news feed.
Consider this new perspective on the American teen’s favorite social media app: Are you subconsciously falling victim to the depressive effects of Instagram?
Instagram’s six anniversary is steadily approaching this October. Since its inception in the fall of 2010, this popular photo-sharing mobile app has risen with unprecedented success on a global scale. According to a new research done by the organization Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX), 18 to 34-year-olds report spending 3.8 hours a day scrolling through Instagram. This statistic allocates to each user checking their feeds approximately nine times every hour, or every six and a half minutes. Yes, it is true that Instagram is a brilliant way to socialize. However, various features of Instagram can significantly affect an individual’s self esteem: With smartphones’ evolution of the front-facing camera with filters, “selfies” became a worldwide phenomenon, arguably inducing egocentrism in the masses. By the same token, Instagram displays the amount of followers each person has on their profile. This deceiving number is nothing but a popularity appeal. Of 3,000 followers, how many of them does one actually know in reality? Finally, the most soul-sucking and socially-isolating ingredient in the recipe for Instagram, eEnvy, is seeing pictures of that party last night, that you just weren’t invited to.
“If you see beautiful photos of your friend on Instagram,” she says, “one way to compensate is to self-present with even better photos, and then your friend sees your photos and posts even better photos, and so on. Self-promotion triggers more self-promotion, and the world on social media gets further and further from reality.”
Approvals of one’s selfie are represented by the numbered red heart located at the bottom left of the picture. This red heart symbolizes the indirect competition for likes that unspools upon the young users of Instagram.
Alyssa Robinson, starting her second year in college, admits that she is an avid user of Instagram. “I’ll be honest, I try to maintain a steady follower count. Though it may seem like a petty and egotistical thing to care about, I think that Instagram plays a large role in social status,” she admits.
Many of us can also admit to the guilty truth that having a large amount of followers ultimately boosts confidence. After all, the larger your audience is, the more interesting or attractive you are. Right? But one has to wonder: where does Instagram violate the “gray line of stalkerism”? Each time you scroll to 34 weeks deep into someone’s public profile (and let’s be honest, we’ve all done it), wiping through selfies and beautiful skylines and those vintage breakfast photos, aren’t you somewhat on the boundary of innocent, curious lurker and a voyeur who’s a little too interested?
Says our honest Alyssa: “Funny story…a few months ago, one of my exes accidentally ‘liked’ a photo that I had posted months ago. He unliked it just as fast as his finger slipped, but I caught it. So yeah, I definitely think one of the negative effects of Instagram is that it promotes stalkerism to an extent.”
Stalkerism is a part of the whole package that is Instagram or any social media network. (I mean, come on, it’s basically a gallery of your life in pictures for the world to see). My only advice to the people who admire from behind a screen, the curious lurkers, and heartbroken ex-lovers who read this: be careful not to double tap!
In essence, Instagram distorts reality. You might envy something that you’re missing out on. Perhaps an event your friends went to but did not tell you about, however you were able to get the whole scope of how incredibly awesome it was through Instagam. Perhaps a “picture-perfect couple” who constantly post about their lovey-dovey relationship, vacations and cute dates, while you’re stuck in “forever alone” land.
But keep in mind, those party photos were fine-tuned and curated for its audience, its appeal deeply exaggerated by filters and hashtags and the infamous #turndownforwhat hashtag.
And that romantic pair who make you sick to your stomach? They might compensate for their frequent bickering and secret tumultuous relationship by putting on a facade.
Instagram is only a glimpse into how things really are. If you, the scroller, find yourself to be downcast and envious because everyone seems to be having a better life than you, bear in mind: the grass isn’t always greener on the other screen.
On a Quora question someone asked:
What drives people to want to make others jealous?
My answer to that was as follows:
Well, be careful of thinking that person wants that type of attention, maybe you are jealous of them and they don’t even mean it or intent to. People got annoy by anything like from being happy, they think that person wants to make them jealous because on instragram they are showing that they lives are awy better than yours, but everything is ilution– no one has a perfect life.
On the other hand, when a person is doing it on purpose: Well, that type of person developed this type of personality based on her or his soundings, their upbringing, their culture in their house and community, and what they see on TV. It also happens if the person is immature— his or her value system is totally off.
The more life experiences and interactions you have in life, the more you learn that spending your time on silly games and things like this is just plain silly and waste of your time.