Instagram is arguably one of the most popular social media apps. It is a photograph-sharing site where people can get a glimpse into the lives of their friends, families or even strangers. How authentic these glimpses are, what impacts they have, are all questions worth asking?
Let’s face it. Humans are walking talking insecurities. Comparing ourselves to every person is a part of our nature. When we look up to someone, compare our achievements to theirs in a healthy way, it motivates us to go far and beyond to achieve even better in life. The other side of this coin is jealousy, the feeling of not being good enough, and feeling like everyone else is doing so much better than us. Instagram preys on these very feelings, creating unhealthy standards and profiting from them.
So what exactly is Instagram envy?
Let’s say the grass is always greener on the other side. No matter how well you’re doing, no matter how comfortable you feel in your job or home. There is always someone out there who has more, who looks better, happier. Instagram feeds that part of our brain precisely. By enabling people to create ‘art’ out of their everyday lives in visuals. Using high-end filters that’ll make the most straightforward pictures look like a vogue cover shoot. People are running in a race of who has the most followers, who’s life has more aesthetic and living their best filtered beautiful day. From manicured hands holding Starbucks cups, sitting in luxury cars, shopping sprees to room makeovers, partying it up in Goa or enjoying a sunset with your loved ones. All these seemingly innocent images lead us to feel deprived of similar experiences. They make us feel like we’re not happy. Moreover, how could we be happy if we’re not sipping cocktails on a beach or posting workout videos with captions like “the grind don’t stop”.
What we see through these posts is just a tiny part of someone’s day, yet the way it gets presented makes it seem like our peers are much more successful than us. It leads to a phenomenon coined as ‘Instagram envy’ by psychologists. People are looking at filtered and edited bodies of people, selling magical leggings, detox diet, weight-loss tea or any other such product. The same people get forced to buy with the hopes of getting similar results. Unknown to the unrealistic standard that they have internalized. It creates a very harmful and toxic body image which poses numerous health threats.
Not only this, people are expected to comment their applaud for these high achieving influencers, ‘aesthetic’, ‘prettiest’ and what not. The number of likes and comments feeds the algorithm, making influencers try even harder to make sure their feed looks the funniest and coolest. When creating a beautiful lifestyle page will turn into work; we can never tell. Not only is this harmful to the consumers of such content, but the creators as well.
The cycle of judging a human’s life, comparing it to ours is an age-old concept. Social media sites have just amplified it to a newer sinister level. Understand that social media is nothing but a window; a farce created by humans just like us is essential to stopping this cycle of self-hatred. Monitoring your usage per day or removing the app for a few days will help clear your mind till you feel ready for another round.