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Pressure of the online sphere: toxicity of Instagram

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November 26, 2021

Instagram is one of the most widely used platforms today. Studies have shown that people in the 18 to 25 age group are the most likely to use Instagram compared to the other age groups, but people between the ages of around 13 to 14 years to 30 to 35 years of age use the platform regularly. According to statistics from January 2021, India has a total of 140 million users, which is also around 5.7% of the total population of India. Today, many people around the world use Instagram not only for fun or to share memes, but also to make a living. People who mainly earn with Instagram are the so-called “Instagram influencers”, or more often “social media influencers”. These influencers also make a good amount of money just posting on their pages or handles, for example nano influencers (2000 to 9000 followers) earn around Rs. 4000 – Rs. 16,000 per post; Micro-influencers (10,000 to 50,000 followers) earn around Rs. 16,000 – Rs. 30,000 per post; Medium-sized influencers (60,000 to 100,000 followers) earn around Rs. 35,000 – Rs. 60,000 per post; Top tier influencers (100,000 to 500,000 followers) earn up to 1 lakh and mega influencers (over 500,000 followers) earn up to 1.2 lakh per post (estimate source: scoopwhoop.com).

But while social media influencers make a lot of their posts on social media like Instagram, the common man may be going through the exact opposite. Instagram and all the other social media platforms basically “use” common people who fall prey to such websites and easily become addicted to the content targeted to them by those websites. The moment you open Instagram, for example, you see the first 5 posts from people you dearly want to know and you keep scrolling down because once you’ve caught your attention, you want to chat, and That is exactly the aim of the app. The app wants to make sure that you are fully entertained by every post you see and that you are also not put off by the posts you don’t want to see. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are designed in such a way that every single activity of the users is carefully and closely monitored and recorded by the system and use this information against you in order to make you addicted to the platform.

The recently released Netflix original documentary “The Social Dilemma” from 2020 explains how social media carefully monitors each of our actions: – how the app, for example Instagram, tracks exactly how many seconds we spend looking at posts, how fast we scroll through the posts, which posts we have Click on “Like” or comment on which posts we are not interested in and so on. This data is later used to keep the user connected to the platform, and the app wins as the total usage time of the app increases from day to day, sometimes even up to 11 or 12 hours per day. If you’ve ever found yourself in an uncomfortable situation, not being able to close the app and just concentrate on the real world, because every single post, video or role that you see in the app captures you and takes you to the Slack only animates it a little longer, just remember that you are not alone!

During the lockdown, Instagram mainly saw an increase in the number of its active users. This is a win-win for the app, but the users are maximally used and exploited. This is mainly due to the fact that we are demonstrably no longer users of Instagram, but rather platforms such as Instagram and Facebook use / control us. We no longer have control over what we want to see on social media, because everything has already been monitored, stored, processed and held ready, and the best dishes are served on our plate in the simplest possible way and stick to the app. Not just because we see the content we like, we are excited about the apps, but the problem I see in this scenario is that Instagram is actually taking away all of the precious time we spend on something more useful or useful could use for us what would make us productive. Gone are the days when we clicked on pictures of ourselves and of each other just to save a memory so we could recall that memory in the future. With the increasing use of social media apps, emotions, moments and, above all, people are fake. We fake our emotions just to take the perfect selfie for our Instagram. We’re extremely sad and desperate inside, but we’re showing the world that we have the time of our lives. We go on trips to get some time from our hectic everyday life, but in the end we spend more time uploading pictures, videos and V-logs than we do living in the moment and enjoying what we are doing. Life is more about showing the world what we are doing than actually doing something.

Medical science and research have shown that the increase in the use of apps like Instagram and other social media sites is inversely proportional to users’ self-esteem. That means, the more the person uses the app and becomes dependent on it, the less they are involved in the real world and the person’s self-esteem drops sharply, with problems like anxiety and social anxiety, depression and so on popping up. Scrolling through your Instagram feed for hours or even brief periods can affect your thoughts and make you feel less wanted. Because if you keep seeing pictures of your friends or acquaintances on Instagram having fun, going to beaches, partying hard, celebrating birthdays, trekking, going on vacation, hiking, skydiving, etc., then it almost automatically creates a comparison factor where you start to compare the life you are living now to that of the person you see in the pictures. Everything seems normal and fine at first, but overtime, seeing pictures of people doing all sorts of funny things while you may not be having half the fun, makes you feel worthless and can lead to loneliness. “Peer pressure” is real, and you will often find yourself doing things that you don’t really love or enjoy doing just so you can get those cute few #girlgang or #squadgoals pics for your Instagram feed.

Of all the social media platforms, I find that Instagram is especially about showing the world how shiny, glamorous, fun and healthy your life is, when in reality the opposite might be the case. It is often overlooked that most of the images, especially those of Instagram influencers, models, etc., that one sees the most on Instagram are digitally edited images that have a part of their body enhanced to have the perfect figure. Teens are often blinded by the beauty of the images they constantly encounter on social media platforms such as Instagram – extremely unrealistic and impractical body standards of perfection. In my opinion, Instagram often harms the young people and the users of the app more than it imparts ideas of perfect height, body shape, fairness and so on. This leads to a toxicity of the app as a whole: one that causes more stress, anxiety problems, lack of social communication skills, and an inability to face the cruel and challenging world outside of the world of Instagram for the users of the app.

In my opinion, keeping Instagram at bay is best, especially if you are constantly checking the app and worrying about yourself, your body / your looks or your skills. It still seems good to check the app from time to time, but one must constantly keep track of the total usage time in the app’s database by visiting the “User Activity” section of the app, and that is how you should try to minimize the use of the app. We need to keep ourselves from falling victim to the app and try to focus more on our real life goals, finding new motivations, like sunshine, than rushing to Instagram content. This time, let’s focus more on ourselves and our loved ones, keep our Instagram usage in check, and spend more time outdoors, playing and connecting with the “real” people in our lives!

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