Instagram’s a Psychic

How often do we find ourselves thinking about how to take a good picture or video of whatever it is that we are doing to put it on social media? How often do we want to make sure the social media knows exactly where we are, what we are eating, who is with us, and even what we are thinking or talking about?

Our society lives by social media.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat…

and the list goes on, filled by websites some probably don’t even know about, yet they’re still capable of taking over our lives. We’re all guilty of halting everyone at the table from eating so that we can take and post a picture of your #delicious food on Instagram.

Face it — you’ve fallen into social media more than you’d like to admit. We all have.

But, recent research shows that this might actually be a good thing, kinda. A mathematician at the University of Vermont did some fancy analyses on hundreds of thousands of posts on Instagram and had some interesting findings.

Turns out, those that were depressed posted less group photos and the colors in their photos tended to be more somber. In fact, this genius mathematician found a trend within the filters that can help distinguish those that are depressed. Apparently, people who are depressed are more likely to choose the “Inkwell” filter on Instagram which is black and white and portrays darker colors, indicative of depression. Happier people, on the other hand, are more likely to use the “Valencia” filter which is lighter and portrays happier emotions.

#nofilter

So, what they’re saying is that they can analyze my Instagram posts and they would know if I have a history of depression, have depression, or may fall into depression in the near future?

YES. That’s right, they are using some crazy mathematical algorithm to fully analyze our posts and determine if we are depressed… Talk about an invasion of privacy, am I right?!

Well, it might seem that way, but this research, as creepy as it may be, goes to show that our behavior on social media is in fact associated with our mental health. Which also means that sometime in the near future, with enough research, we might be able to find out about people’s mental health issues without them having to willingly seek help from a mental health provider. Think about it — this is a way for people to find out that they may have some mental health issue before being professionally evaluated, meaning both them and the provider are saving time and money! This might also mean that people who would not have previously gotten help can now get the help they need. I’m not exactly sure how this who social media thing will work to help determine mental health, but I do know it is a step in the right direction. One needed to increase the number of people who actually get the help and support they need for their mental health issues — something that really no tactic so far has managed.

If you could learn about someone’s mental health from their social media posts, what else can you learn? With innovative minds, the possibilities are truly endless!