The Emotional and Mental Issues Caused by Social Media Usage

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It’s seventh period, your last period of the day, and you decide to open up Instagram because your teacher is reading the PowerPoints verbatim. You click on the icon with several different colors and a camera showing on the front. The app opens up to your best friend’s recent shopping spree and twenty-seven new likes from your 787 followers, who you probably know ten percent of. You tap on the heart button near the bottom right-hand side of the dashboard to see if your crush likes your post, just to find out the one person you wanted to like your cute bikini picture didn’t. Thoughts begin to rush through your head including, “Do I look too fat in this picture” or “Are there prettier girls he sees”, but ultimately who cares about the number of likes on the picture. Instagram is just another type of social media that affects kids’ self-esteem through a popularity contest, going up against each other to see who can get the most likes on their pictures. In an article by Anita Balakrishnan she stated that Instagram alone has “800 Million users” which is an increase in the number of followers in five months. Those users are all suffering from mental health issues, cyberbullying, as well as problems with time management. Instagram was created as a photo album to share pictures such as your life achievements and to stay connected in the future, the number of likes received has no importance in this social media phenonium.

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Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger were two men who had no idea their creation would be such a success. Systrom in 2010, was currently employed at “US Subway directions app Next stop”, noticing how much money and time that was going to have to be put into this app Systrom needed a partner and has been in contact with Krieger exchanging ideas and trying to get him on board (Woods). Instagram was established in the year 2010 by Systrom and Krieger who just thought it was a way for the users to share creative and interesting pictures with no expectation the user-count would even reach 800 Million users in 8 years. Raisa Bruner is a journalist for Time magazine who shared the background on Instagram in the early stages of creation. When Instagram was first published it “wasn’t yet available to the public, Systrom and Krieger started testing their brainchild with a few snaps”. The two men wanted to make this app different from the other social media apps through sharing expression through images and only allowing the users to post, like and comment on either their own or the other users post. Instagram got the name from the fact that the people utilizing this app were sharing pictures through a type of instant telegram. Throughout the time and technical changes made to Instagram there have been some amazing new filters and effects added as well as some problems occurring without any intentional harm to the users. Behind all of the likes, comments and countless number of followers lies a problem that is lightly talked about and should be paid more attention to, mental health issues. In a Time article by Amanda MacMillan called “Why Instagram Is the Worst Social Media for Mental Health” the author discusses the consequences the social media app has on the human brain as well as the health issues related to the use of the app. “Instagram is the worst social media network for mental health and wellbeing, according to a recent survey of almost 1,500 teens and young adults”, these health issues include anxiety and depression. The mental health issues all start with the number of likes on a picture or the amount of views on a video. For instance, when a user logs onto their account and notices that they posted a picture 34 minutes ago and have twenty-six likes while one of the people they are following posted it at the same time and has fifty-seven likes, the user starts the have anxiety wondering why they have fewer likes. A like on Instagram is simply scrolling through a bunch of posts with one thumb and double tapping on a post. A like requires no energy not even brain work because you can just double tap on whatever post you see. In the article titled “Our Obsession with “Like” Part 1” by, Dr. Liraz Margalit, she explained that the obsession with the amount of likes on a picture can “boost or shatter one’s ego”.

Having the feeling of “FOMO” or fear of missing out is a feeling the users of Instagram don’t want to feel, it will indeed cause a slight moment of confusion or depression and needs to be noticed as an ongoing psychological issue in today’s society. This feeling might lead to a sense of addiction convincing yourself you need to be on the app at all times to able to keep up with the events in your followers’ lives. This social media phenomenon was created to express ideas and feelings through pictures, not a stressor comparing the amount of likes the user has to a follower.

All of the users of Instagram can relate that they use the social media app as “bragging” rights, in fact they are too worried about what the audience thinks of them that it results in the lack of real-life experiences. The users of Instagram are having trouble distinguishing the difference between real-life versus virtual-life. For instance, being at a concert we all look around and notice the amount of lights coming from the phone, as well as the recorder watching the concert through the phone and now losing out on the fact that you are seeing a famous person live. The issue is being worry some about documenting an event because the user is too busy trying to get the amount of likes they receive on a picture and capture the attention of their followers to gain more likes. Also, throughout the duration of the concert you are busy checking and checking again as well as counting up the amount of likes you received which is taking away from the time of the live concert, and in all reality the user should not care about the quantity of likes being received. In a Cosmopolitan article by Sara Z Wezler called “Why your likes don’t actually mean anything”, the author explains that a like on Instagram leads to the user constantly checking the amount of likes they received which leads to taking up time from their day. Wezler states “50,000 web users worldwide, last year, the average person spent 109 minutes per day on social media”, during the concert the user was too busy worrying about the amount of likes in a certain amount of time which in return resulted in missing out of the once and a lifetime moment. The amount of time used on the app checking to see if you are satisfied with the quantity of likes should be used for living in the moment. The common Instagram user follows at least one famous person and notices the number of likes they received on a picture, the common user tries to copy that. The brain is seeing that if the user receives the amount of likes Kim Kardashian receives on a picture they may be more liked by their peers and see as one of the “Instagram famous user’s”. These likes are being easily manipulated through purchase of followers to boost the amount of likes on a picture.

The main purpose behind a like is being enjoyed by the followers but in reality, a like takes no effort to like a picture. The user is stressing themselves out over a double-tap and causing emotional issues through anxiety as well as depression. The amount of likes on a picture is irrelevant due to the lack of knowledge of majority of the followers. Instagram is a way to express your personality through a picture or video, the “like” button is just a way to make money as well as cause harm without an intention.

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