It's becoming increasingly clear that Instagram use has a negative impact on our mental health.
I, and the majority of people who spend more than a few hours a week on the platform, clearly see the inverse relationship between our Instagram use and our psychological states. The more we use Instagram, the less satisfied we tend to be with life. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably felt that too…
Ideally, quitting Instagram altogether would be the healthiest decision, but unfortunately, most of us don’t have the option to not use the app.
In my case, I pay rent through the money I earn from my Instagram account. For others pursuing a creative career, it is an essential part of building their business or being hired for their next job.
So what do you do if you know that Instagram is affecting you but you can’t avoid using it for less than a few hours per week?
One course of action that has helped me tremendously is changing my point of view on the platform itself.
Contrary to how most of us initially saw Instagram, it doesn’t really help us get inspired, connect deeply with others or build “community”, but we (including myself) still use it as if it does.
To combat this delusion, I’ve found it a healthy habit to make a point of frequently reading and remembering a few facts I’ve written down about Instagram as a company and how we use it. Clearly understanding them has helped me be less attached to the platform, changed the way I use it, and ultimately, be less affected by it.
Next time you feel down due to your Instagram use, try reading and remembering these points too.
1. Instagram is an advertising company:
Every single thing they do as a company revolves around developing technology to capture our attention as often and as deeply as possible so they can sell it to advertisers. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars in communication, branding, and marketing efforts aimed at making us perceive the app as a beneficial technology that brings people together, helps us express our individuality through authentic communication, and “build community”. They emphasize that message because they know that it is the most effective at giving users (us) a reason to believe that using Instagram is somehow beneficial. But here’s the thing: They don’t exist to connect you to others, express your individuality, or build community. They exist to capture your attention and sell it. You are the product they sell.
2. Every person that you see on Instagram isn’t real (and neither are you):
Like you and I, everyone on Instagram posts content that projects a heightened version of themselves, not the real them. By seeing people’s lives through the lens of Instagram, we are comparing our ordinary lives to the manufactured, dream-versions of others. Of course, we are never going to be as good looking, intelligent, talented, noble, wise, creative, or fabulous as the idealized version of everyone else on the planet! But for some reason, we still compare and judge our worth upon these references.
3. People don’t REALLY care about your posts:
Most of us don’t read captions. Most of us forget Instagram posts within seconds of seeing them. Ask yourself, “which Instagram post from last month do I remember?” I don’t remember a single one. More likely than not, you don’t either. Neither do the people who follow you. Next time you’re feeling anxious about posting something, remember that. Some people tell me they use Instagram because they want to make a difference or inspire others or change the world. Wanting to make a difference, inspire people, or change the world is something wonderful, and we should strive for that, but that requires a creating a long-lasting, meaningful impact on someone’s life. And in general, Instagram posts don’t make long-lasting meaningful impacts on peoples lives. If we sincerely want to change the world, there are more effective ways to do that and most of them will have less of a negative impact on your mental health.
4. The less you look at Instagram posts, the happier you’ll be:
Comparing ourselves to others leads to being less satisfied with our lives and Instagram is the most effective comparison machine ever built by man. Even if you know that Instagram isn’t “real” it will still have a negative effect on your subconscious every time you use it. There’s no “I’m going to compare myself to others” switch you can turn on and off in your brain. It’ll happen whether you are conscious of it or not. So love yourself by taking care of your mental health and make an effort to use Instagram less. If your career allows it, stop using it altogether. You won’t be missing out on anything. At the end of the day, all of what you see on Instagram isn’t actually real (see №2).
I hope these help you as they have helped me. And please, next time you spend a few minutes scrolling through Instagram, stop, and sincerely notice how you feel afterward. That feeling will tell you everything you need to know about the impact Instagram is having in your life.
One day, I’m sure we’ll thank ourselves for learning how to let go of the craving of scrolling on Instagram the app, and instead, take a little time to give ourselves some peace (and love).
PS #1 — If you want to share about how Instagram has affected your mental health, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and, if I get enough submissions, I’ll publish an article showcasing all of our stories. It might help us see how it’s very common and how we’re not alone.
PS #2 — Can someone please invent an Instagram home feed blocker like this Facebook one? You’ll be helping all of us improve our mental health.
Btw, if you want to read more about how Instagram works, please read my articles about what Instagram really is and how works, how the Instagram algorithm works, Instagram niches and why they are the key to growth, why you’re losing Instagram followers, Instagram hashtags, how to increase your Instagram engagement, how to write an Instagram bio, the best Instagram content schedulers and automators, Instagram bots, how to pick the right Instagram username, Instagram bots 2021, the best Instagram bots, how to create an Instagram visual grid, how to create an Instagram repost account that makes money, how to check if you’re shadowbanned on Instagram, and why your Instagram account isn’t growing.