The environment of Instagram is toxic, and even the creators of the app know it. Results of studies done by Facebook, the owners of Instagram, show that everyday Instagram use worsens teen’s overall well-being, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.
This isn’t surprising, considering that users have the ability to follow celebrities and peers
who often post edited photos in an attempt to create an unrealistic representation of a“perfect life.” Not only this, but the emphasis on posting pictures of the body comes with the negative effects of objectification, leading to increased risk of developing eating disorders, depression, and anxiety.
There’s no going back, social media is ingrained in our everyday lives. Pew Research shows 89% of teens use social media “almost constantly” or “several times a day, and this now daily regime comes with harmful effects on our body image and well-being.
This is why we need to reframe our intentions behind what we post on Instagram and why we do it. The intention behind what we post is not to express, it is to impress. The constant comparison to others and their posts creates expectations and constant pressure to impress our followers.
The change from impressing to expressing isn’t something that happens overnight, but taking an approach to express your true self and identity is the first step to changing the toxic environment of Instagram.
Stop Posting for Validation and Start Posting To Express Yourself
If we change the objective of our posts from getting as many likes as possible to expressing our identities, we create an environment that isn’t focused on validation and comparison. View your Instagram as a way to showcase your uniqueness and creativity.
Make Instagram Casual
Post a picture of your pet, your food, or of that art hanging on your wall that you love. Post whatever the fu*ck you want. Overthinking about the judgement that you think will come from others is exhausting and posting content more casually might have you asking yourself, "Is it weird if I post this?"
It's not weird. Be yourself. Post what you want. You might even inspire others to do the same.
Turn off “Like Counts” For Your Posts
On Instagram, we measure our worth through likes. We compare the amount of likes we have to what others have. Turning off the “Like Counts” for your posts hides the amount of likes on each post and helps put a stop to the competitive nature of the app.
Don’t Edit Your Face or Body
This one is self explanatory. This one may be hard if you see everyone else do it and if you have done it in the past, but we need to make sure we are keeping ourselves accountable and setting the example we want to see in others. Perfection is subjective and looks and means different things to everyone, don't fall prey to the pursuit of it.
Unfollow Influencers If You Don’t Find Value in Their Posts
Influencers can be inspiring if they have a valuable message or insight to share. They can teach us things about new topics and produce engaging content that is exciting to see. But unfollow the ones that don't have an impactful mission behind what they're doing.
Social Media isn’t going anywhere, which means we need to change its course for the better. Choose to express and not impress, so we can create a social media platform based on individuality and acceptance.