Last month, I accepted a friend’s invitation and dove into the wonderfully bright and seemingly pleasant world of Instagram. I did so partially for business, and partially out of curiosity. A few friends were saying it was much better than other social media — simpler, less cluttered, more expressive, and easier to make genuine connections with people. At first, they seemed to be right, but it didn’t take long for my life to feel a bit constipated. I later learned I was suffering from IGS (Irritable-Gram Syndrome). I’m happy to say now, after relieving myself of my InstaCrap, I’m feeling great again. Instagram has been voted the worst social media for mental health, so it’s probably time you check yourself for the IGS symptoms below.
By the way, I fully realize that for many people, Instagram holds a lot of value and does not create the problems listed below, which is why NatureHub still maintains a page there (not run by me). This article is written for those who are starting to realize, like I did, that Instagram can very well be a personal source of toxicity.
Let’s see how…
#1 You‘re Anxious, Stressed, & Depressed
In 2017, Instagram was rated the worst social media for anxiety in teens and young adults by the Royal Society for Public Health. With complex algorithms designed to reward high quality and engaging content, it can be hard not to compare oneself to others, focusing too much energy on putting getting your picture just right, with the perfect hashtags, using the perfect filters. “Maybe I wasn’t invited out last night because my post was lame?” “It barely got any likes.” “I should probably comment more on her photos, then she will notice me.” “Hey, did someone just stop following my page?” According to British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, the number of people one can know and maintain meaningful social contact with at any given point is somewhere between 100 and 250. When social media is based on pictures and likes instead of person to person conversations, it creates a static interference that makes building these meaningful relationships unnaturally challenging. The more social networks we use, the more likely we are to report depression, so it’s important we are wise in our selection.
#2 You Don’t Get Restful Sleep
Instagram was also shown to have negative impacts on sleep. The average person spends about 2 hours and 15 minutes between various online social networks, and according to the University of Pittsburg, just an hour of social media per day caused a 30% sleep disturbance rate. It’s important to note that lack of sleep, anxiety, depression, and anger are all positively correlated, and tend to amplify one another. They also all have tremendously negative impacts on health. So if you are losing sleep due to social media overuse, there is logic in cutting the most stressful, depressing ones from your routine first. For me, that was IG.
#3 You feel Insecure about your Body
A study published in 2017 measured the relationship between young women’s body image concerns and their overall Instagram use. It revealed, “Greater overall…use was associated with greater self-objectification, and that relationship was mediated both by internalization and by appearance comparisons to celebrities.” So if you’ve found yourself taking 23 pictures to get the perfect angle, it’s time to stop comparing yourself to photoshopped, filtered-out models, and start appreciating the whole person you are and the beauty that you uniquely possess within. Where’s Mr. Rogers when you need him, right?
#4 You are Afraid of Missing Out
For many, FOMO (fear of missing out) happens regularly when Instagraming. They may see pictures or video clips of friends doing cool things with mutual friends, but they were not invited. Maybe it looks like the person is always doing fun things, and going to interesting places. They look at their own situation and feel lame. They wish they could trade places thinking, “Nobody is going to want to invite me out, cause I don’t have interesting things to post.” When I post things like that, it seems like almost nobody likes them or comments about them. It’s really sad to observe that as people compete more for attention and approval on social media, it tends to result in people being less content, and then learning to be fake in order to try to fit in.
#5 You Don’t Want to Make Mark Zuckerberg Even Richer.
For me, my FOMO came from the fear that if NatureHub’s IG account wasn’t big enough, future customers, partners, and investors might think we suck. Nowadays it’s a pay-to-play system on Facebook/Instagram for businesses. That means to get content out to a significant number of people, you will have to pay Instagram regularly for ads. For us the time and money are much better spent creating an awesome platform and getting people to use it, than to invest our resources on a platform that withholds content from reaching people unless you pay them. Also, the thought of giving Mark Zuckerberg even one more cent makes me want to puke.
And yes, just to clarif — for those who have been asleep for the past few years,
INSTAGRAM IS FACEBOOK!
Sorry for yelling, but some people are so quick to forget. They’ll tell me,
“Hey man, no I don’t use Facebook anymore, they were recording my conversations in the background through my phones microphone and selling the info to 3rd party advertisers. It was getting really creepy. The other day I was talking about Chuck Norris, now his face is following me everywhere I go online. Yea, I’m tired of that crap. I’m on that cool new Indie platform IG with all the other cool kids — you should follow me there.”
So anyway, just remember, Instagram is not a “cool indie” platform, not anymore. They are run by Facebook, a mega-corporation. Anything you don’t like about Facebook’s philosophy and practices, you can assume exactly the same of Instagram.
#6 You’re Tired of Competing with Automated Accounts
Recently, Dovetail Software revealed “16.4 percent of the followers on Instagram’s top 20 accounts were fraudulent.” Meaning, they use bots to go around and like, comment, and share content in order to artificially inflate their numbers and increase their followers. Facebook admitted last year up to 270 million accounts on that platform were fake, and studies have shown between 8–11.5 of active accounts on IG are automated bots accounts being used to artificially inflate other accounts. Facebook-Instagram might say it’s trying to remove them, but bots can actually help them make money. The more they successfully engage a person, the more data is generated, which creates more advertising opportunities for them.
#7 You Can Think of More Reasons
Be honest, now that we’re on the topic, you can probably think of other reasons it’s time for you to take an InstaCrap too. You might already be thinking of a dozen reasons IG is making your life less enjoyable. Because this is such a large topic, and I don’t want your IGS to start acting up, I’ve decided to dedicate another article to the topic. Go ahead and excuse yourself. I need a break too. All this thinking about Instagram is honestly just bringing back old memories of how stressed out I was getting.
…Stay Tuned for Part II
This was an entry under the Digital Detox column of our publication NatureHub. If you enjoyed this article, don’t forget to leave some claps and share it with others. We at NatureHub are trying to save the planet by encouraging people to live in a healthy, conscious and sustainable manner. We’re developing a platform for the conscious community. If you believe in our cause and want to help, follow us on Medium, Twitter and Instagram.
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