Most of us spend hours scrolling down our phone screens – for want of a better word – ‘preeing’ celebrities, fitness models and ‘foodporn’. It all seems rather innocent as you first sign up and enter your details on Instagram before you begin to post a plethora of aesthetically pleasing pictures for your loyal followers to like; but is there a deeper effect that social media channels like Instagram have on our mental health?
I remember when I first joined Instagram I’d start all my posts with well thought out captions and hashtags to compliment my uploads, the selfies were in abundance and fortunately, the likes were too. It all seems rather fun and enthralling at first but once you lay eyes on the explore page, the opportunities for damaging your ego become endless.
Let me first explain what this explore page involves; it essentially displays countless profiles that may be of interest to you based on your liking and searching habits on Instagram. For example, the more you interact and click on bikini-clad models, the more they pop up on your explore page. This is a great way to find profiles that you may want to follow but it can also have a deeper effect on our minds and perceptions. You end up finding yourself looking at other peoples’ bodies, becoming invested in their lives and daily experiences; which eventually exposes that green monster in all of us. This then can make us ‘post’ irrationally, developing an online version of ourselves, an alter ego even. The question is who are we trying to impress? The people we don’t know or the people who we crave to be?
The dark side of Instagram, not only is it addictive, it’s also can be depressing and unsound. The way we portray ourselves to the world can be incredibly different to who we are at home, this being said, we can only take what we see of others ‘lives’ with a pinch of salt. It is hard to say what is real and what is fake. That 25-year-old ripped gym bunny who is always taking luxurious trips overseas is also the same person who thrives off their social media presence whilst basking in their family’s fortune. To put it bluntly, we are only shown what we want to see, not the somewhat less attractive side of someone’s life.
Photoshop, editing apps – and everyone’s ability to use editing software also play a significant role in this perception game. The changes people are able to make to their photos are ever so slight now that you would never notice they’ve been edited. From the use of filters to accentuating one’s assets to the covering up of blemishes you, the voyeur would never even be aware of. Despite adding to the unrealistic portrayal of people’s bodies and lives, they can make all the difference between a snatched waist and those 2,000 likes.
Let’s be honest, Instagram is the prime space for stalking; anyone – particularly us girls – can become a CIA/FBI/MI5 agents. You can start on someone’s profile and end up on their uncle’s best friend’s wives page who promotes skincare! The connections are endless and can also lead you to posts you’d rather not have seen, for example, that ex that always seems to pop out when you’re least prepared. It’s probably best to let bygones be bygones and be slightly oblivious to those posts that can hurt you.
Instagram, however, is a highly entertaining media platform, from being able to show you the latest makeup trends to the funniest videos and memes (that haven’t already popped up on your Facebook feed). People have been able to attain careers and businesses through the popular social app, from an ever-growing following to product endorsements! We’ve seen the likes of – @Gracefituk and @Simeonpanda who are both fitness enthusiasts provide accounts that motivate people across the world to be fit and healthy. @Jaydepierce similarly is a great account for makeup lovers as well as the relentless Kim Kardashian, all the way to those who are easy on the eye but have great accounts that many would want to follow like @realbriamyles and @demirosemawby.
My last words on the Devil that is Instagram would be not to look too deeply into what people post, learn to not take it seriously and not to bash yourself for not looking a ‘certain’ way or reaching a ‘quota’ or milestones you place in your head.
With that taken into consideration, let the selfies, belfies and holiday snaps reign free for all your followers to ‘pree’. (Hey that rhymed, time to put rapper/model in my bio).