There was a time when Instagram was my favorite app. I would check it as soon as I woke up in the morning and then countless times throughout the day.
But Instagram has increasingly become a stunt ground full of posers, wannabes and fakers. It's not doing anything for me anymore and that's why I've decided to take a break from the social network, and you should consider it, too.
The problem isn't Instagram itself, but what the social network has become. Instagram has turned into a platform that breeds jealousy, envy and false hope. Because of this, my Instagram usage has dramatically decreased. I'm almost at a point at which I check it once or twice a day and sometimes even that feels like too much.
On a normal day, I see photos of piles of money, people posing with expensive clothes (that they probably spent their entire paychecks on) and advertisements meant to convince people to buy things they don't need.
These posts run rampant and have created a breeding ground for haters hiding behind the Internet. The negativity really comes alive in the comments.
Slate's Jessica Winter says Instagram is a self-loathing social network, describing it as more depressing than Facebook. She cited "passive consumption" (aka Insta-stalking or trolling Instagram) as a direct correlate with feelings of loneliness and even depression. Winter does offer a caveat and says that it's all about how you use the network.
This quote Winter received from a Facebook expert perfectly sums up why Instagram is more detrimental to our sanity:
“You get more explicit and implicit cues of people being happy, rich, and successful from a photo than from a status update,” says Hanna Krasnova of Humboldt University Berlin, co-author of the study on Facebook and envy. “A photo can very powerfully provoke immediate social comparison, and that can trigger feelings of inferiority. You don’t envy a news story.”
Because of Instagram's heavy emphasis on visuals, the social network has the power to make normal people seem much more interesting and important than they actually are.
This fantasy is perpetuated when people specially curate their feeds to only provide their followers with posts they think will get likes instead of actually posting everyday things that humanize us.
Today's Instagram doesn't have a filter for reality versus fantasy.
Susceptible users all fall for the trap of taking what someone posts as face value when most of the time that isn't the case. Just last week, Vice interviewed an anonymous Instagram user whose mission is to expose celebrities and users who are posing with expensive fake watches, trying to pass them off as real.
Don't get me wrong, we've all been guilty of stuntin' on the gram, but without a sanity check, you could run off believing that everything you see is reality. This action is unhealthy and can negatively affect your experience and your mood.
Another issue is that users are getting their news from the social network. Getting your news from Instagram is like listening to that crazy guy on the corner who's yelling out shocking things, hoping anyone will listen.
Rumors run rampant and there isn't really a way to verify one person's credibility over another's. Just because someone posts a bunch of pretty pictures and has a "k" behind his or her follower count doesn't make this person legit.
Besides using Instagram as a news source, a problem that runs unchecked on Instagram is stunting with something you don't own or someone (famous) you don't know.
Stunting has become a huge issue that affects the way followers perceive us and it's disingenuous. Just because you're posing with a huge pile of cash, which probably is your rent money, doesn't mean you're worth that much.
Spam is another huge issue. Power users are obsessed with becoming "instafamous" and will do anything they can to get likes and followers.
That means spamming celebrity pages, creating schemes and even paying for followers, just for the perception. Spam is a part of the Internet, but when it disrupts your experience, it's a much bigger issue than just an annoyance.
Instagram celebrities, like Lil Terrio, Blacc Chyna and many others, profit off their susceptible audiences by recommending products and services they probably don't even use and that aren't marked as ads. This is all for the sake of making extra money without you even knowing it.
I fell in love with Instagram when it first launched because it was a less convoluted way to share pictures. Facebook has become too complicated and also feels impersonal. Instagram was a way for me to see through the eyes of my friends.
They'd share uninhibited moments, cool experiences, new finds and delicious meals. Instagram is still all of that, but now it seems as if we have to be so conscious and careful with what we post that it takes all the fun out of it.
Instagram used to feel like a safe place. A platform for us to share photos without judgment from randoms, but as it's gained users and popularity, the guise of privacy has disappeared.
While I don't think Instagram is inherently evil or even bad, I think that it's necessary to take sanity checks from time-to-time to ensure that participating is something I want to do and not something I need to do for social acceptance.
I'm not saying I'm quitting Instagram forever. I just want to take a break from the network, reconnect with real things around me and worry less about impressing others and racking up likes.
I suggest you try it, too; you might come out of it a much better person.
Photo Courtesy: Piroshki/ 500px