Days ago, I got a better idea of the goings-on behind Instagram, as I listened to someone who dubbed himself an Instagram Husband. Married for about a year, the speaker says that, as an Instagram Husband, he regularly captures images of his wife or their photos together to be uploaded specifically on Instagram.
To become an Instagram Husband, the man says, the first thing you need is a mobile phone more powerful than that of your wife’s. Your job is to snap amazing photos to please your wife. Your smart phone must be with you all the time.
Here’s the deal: Once you get the right angle to snap the perfect shot, make sure you stick to this particular angle.
Any other angle will make your wife look fat, less pretty, less alluring, which means, the photo you shoot won’t have as many Likes as your wife had aimed for, in comparison to those of her peers, and you the husband will get a scolding for failing to get it right.
As he went on, I sensed a degree of frustration, as if he was trying to make sense of the role he did not sign up for.
It’s not just Instagram.
We crave for adoration, adulation and validation like never before. We worship gorgeous looks. We follow the cult of appearances.
And it does reflect the findings of recent research.
Major studies have shown the negative relationship between Instagram and mental health. In a survey conducted in 2017, a total of 1,500 youth aged 14-24 in United Kingdom reported both positive and negative experiences they had with social media. However, these youth rated Instagram and Snapchat, both image-based, as worst in terms of mental health and overall well-being.
Both Instagram and Snapchat induce feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, as a result of “compare and despair”: you see peers having a great time seemingly all the time; you see images of good-looking men and (especially) women, it makes you feel inferior and uncertain of yourself. It affects your self-confidence, fills you with self-doubt. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be like everyone else, who looks perfect, has the time to look perfect, and lead perfect lives?
Another study confirmed that young women who have peers on social media who they perceived as more attractive do develop a negative body image over time. Never mind if those pretty photos they saw were doctored.
A third study found a strong correlation between social media use and the risk of depression and anxiety. In this study, 1,787 people aged 19-32 who said they used between 7 to 11 social media platforms were found 3 times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety compared to millennials who used 2 platforms or less. One expert even went as far as labelling attachment to social media like Instagram as an addiction, similar to the craving for alcohol and cigarettes.
Even if no study has been made, logic informs us that seeking others’ approval in the virtual world is a path that may well lead to misery. You end up perpetually wanting to impress people.
Craving for people’s approval is a choice that we make, a trap. Why would you let strangers determine your worth and value? Why must you lose your true authentic self to please others? Why must your happiness be bonded to their Likes and disLikes?
There is a difference between the real world and the virtual world.
Instead of feeling good because you are doing something worthwhile, your state of mind, your happiness is tied to people’s perceptions of you. I find the idea of letting others take control of your happiness and sadness really odd. Why would you entrust your emotion switch to those who don’t even know you in person, any more than you would entrust your personal bank account to strangers?
True, we all need to be loved and accepted.
But, as the story of the Instagram Husband shows, desiring to be loved by people out there might backfire on your own true love. If you are constantly seeking people’s approval, you might end up feeling worthless if you find your popularity going down one day. That will neither be a pleasant nor a kind thing to experience.
Multi-social millennials more likely depressed than social(media)ly conservative peers. University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161220175543.htm
Status of Mind: Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health. Young Health Movement. Royal Society for Public Health, UK.
Young adult women who engaged with an attractive peer on social media subsequently experienced an increase in negative body image. (The effects of active social media engagement with peers on body image in young women). Hogue, J. V. & Mills, J. S. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S174014451730517X)