I’m writing this blog post a week after I deleted the Instagram app from my phone. I was upset and aggravated the past two weeks, scrolling through my Instagram feed every waking hour of my day, feeling more and more resentment build up inside me as I look at the stories of my friends going on vacation in the midst of a pandemic or photos of influencers spending lavishly while many others are losing their jobs or going hungry. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had to get off social media for a while and so I made the decision to delete Instagram while I sorted my feelings out. After removing the app from my phone, I thought I’d miss out at first. What if my followers start unfollowing me because I haven’t posted anything for the past week? What if I miss a super important milestone of my friend’s? How will I live without seeing how the rich and famous influencers I follow post yet another selfie with their $100,000 Hermes bags?! But then I realized during this past 1 week, I didn’t actually miss Instagram at all. After deep contemplation, I’ve come up with 5 reasons why Instagram is subtly ruining our lives.
It Makes Us Compare Our Lives With Others
Before the advent of social media, no one knew what went on in other people’s lives besides the lives of those closest to them. As such, it was more difficult to compare what we had with those of other people. Would you have known that the guy who lived 5 blocks away from you owned a Ferrari and a private jet? Or that your best friend’s cousin’s sister owned a hundred Birkin bags? I wouldn’t. However, with the rise of Instagram, you can literally stalk the profiles of any stranger on the Internet and compare your lives with theirs. Seeing your friends post photos of their luxurious vacations or new cars while you’re still struggling to pay off your student loans is a one-way street to developing feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness in yourself.
You Start To Spend More To Keep Up With The Joneses
When you start comparing your life with another person’s, you’d also unconsciously start to covet what they have, leading to an increase in spending on things that you might not have necessarily wanted before. I also used to be a huge victim of this. For example, I kept spending lots of money every month on a closet full of clothes that I never wore because I wanted to “look like those Instagram influencers”. And did I really need 30 pairs of shoes when I only have a pair of feet? If your spending is not kept in check, you may soon find yourself spiralling into debt as you purchase a bigger house or a Continental car that you could never afford in order to create an illusion that you have a life as perfect as everyone else’s.
It Creates Self-Esteem and Body Image Issues
I’m not going to lie, I’ve never thought about things like botox or plastic surgery when I was younger. In fact, I was perfectly happy eating two plates of fried noodles for lunch and never exercised a day in my life. I even thought I had quite a beautiful face to begin with. Nevertheless, when I started following the accounts of models on Instagram with their slender bodies and perfectly constructed faces, I began to feel that I wasn’t enough. With the plethora of influencers posting about magical detox drinks that promised to make you slimmer or filler procedures that made you look younger, I unconsciously became influenced as well. I wanted to be thinner, have a sharper jaw, bigger eyes… A few years back I even went to an aesthetic clinic made popular by local Instagram influencers for a consultation on ways to fix my face. Luckily, the prices the doctor quoted at the time were exorbitant enough that I decided not to do it, but who knows how I’d have turned out if I did? Would I have become addicted to plastic surgery? Or would it have ruined my face for good? I have no idea. I’m sure that millions of women around the world are feeling the same way I do, chastising themselves for not being good enough and developing low self-esteem as a result.
You Start To Equate Likes With Self-Worth
One of the reasons why social media is so addictive is because we feel a rush of dopamine the moment someone ‘likes’ our posts or follow us on Instagram. I too enjoyed seeing my follower count rise day by day and the hundreds of likes I’d get every time I posted a new photo. In time, I started to equate the likes I received with self-worth. Whenever I got a lower number of likes on a photo, I’d start to think things like Was there something wrong with this picture? Am I not attractive anymore? Do people not like my content anymore? etc. This was especially prevalent when Instagram first started changing their algorithm in 2016 from showing posts in chronological order to one where you had to have a certain number of likes and attention on your posts in order to appear on people’s newsfeeds. I started feeling depressed and anxious all the time when the number of likes on my photos dropped from an average of 600-800 to a measly 300. Thankfully, I moved to Japan soon after and was busy enjoying my real life that I slowly stopped caring about the amount of likes I received. However, there are many people out there, especially influencers who rely on Instagram to make a living that spiraled into depression after their number of likes and followers plunged.
Scrolling Instagram Is A Waste Of Time
What do I do the moment I wake up every day? Scroll Instagram. During lunch? Scroll Instagram. Before I sleep? Scroll Instagram. In fact, I opened the Instagram app an average of 20 times a day, countlessly refreshing the app to see if there are any new posts or stories from my friends. All this scrolling is a huge waste of time as it prevents me from doing something more useful with my life, like reading a book or writing a new blog post. I’m sure lots of you can attest to how much of a time-suck it is in your lives as well. So my advice is, put down your phone for a while and pick up a new hobby instead. Who knows, you might find yourself enjoying it way more than all the endless scrolling you do on Instagram.
What do you think? Does Instagram play a positive or negative influence in your life? Let me know in the comments below 🙂
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