By Akim Powell
Instagram is one of the leading social media sites for millennials with over 1 billion users, but according to University of Mississippi students, only a fraction of those might be happy due to the “why not me” effect it creates among women.
“It’s an illusion,” said Taylor Campell, senior exercise major. “It’s hard because we see these people with 100,000 followers who have surgery-perfected bodies, and nice brand endorsements and we feel like ‘why don’t I get 900 likes’ or ‘why not me?’”
Campell also said that Instagram creates this “shining, glittery life” that most users want people to see.
“We may post a selfie three days ago with hair and makeup done but the same day we post it, we look horrible or we’re sitting in our bedroom crying. But nobody would know that because they have this perfect life presented on social media,” Campbell said.
“It’s the place where many people see what they wished they had,” said Brad Conaway, social media expert and journalism professor. “For a lot of people, they see people living a lifestyle that will never be able to afford or get anywhere close to and it really has a ‘why not me’ effect on people because they just don’t understand why those people are so lucky to have all of that. That’s where Instagram can really bad effect, especially with younger kids.”
Conaway said that Instagram is only negative if you make it. By thirsting for fame and likes it can create the same endorphins in your brain similar to winning on a slot machine.
“Getting likes feels like you’ve won something and you keep getting that constant reinforcement. It does give you a nice ego boost and nice feeling so it’s always going to be something that you’re chasing,” Conaway said. “A lot of people call Instagram the museum of me. It’s here how I want to present myself to the world and how I want my life to be.
App Changes May Be Coming
Recently, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, announced that the social network is going to test hiding like counts as a way to make the app “a less pressurized environment” and to create a better quality interaction.
A recent study was conducted where 138 undergraduate students were asked to view Instagram posts with attractive celebrities, peers and visually appealing travel images.
“Results showed that exposure to celebrity and peer images increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction relative to travel images, with no significant difference between celebrity and peer images,” the study found.
Emily Smith, a freshman mathematics major, said she finds validation in her faith rather than people when it comes to the social media platform.
“I think if it’s toxic if it’s used incorrectly,” Smith said. “I don’t have an issue with my Instagram and being toxic. When I get a like, I don’t feel validation. I’ve just never been the person to rely on outward opinion to decide my identity. I’ve always based my identity in my faith, so it’s easier for me than others.”
Someone that would beg to differ with Smith is Kamiko Farris, a senior psychology major who has dealt with the negative effects of social media.
“You see everyone has a small waist and big butt and that’s what gets the most attention,” Farris said. “Instagram puts a label on what’s in and what’s not in. You see someone who has a lot of comments and likes and you think, ‘Well since I’m not getting those likes, then I’m out of his league.’”
Farris also says that it can be damaging to mental health because you’ll always be going to compare yourself to other girls asking yourself, “If I don’t look like those girls, is anyone ever going to like me?”
The impact on Instagram isn’t state-based, it’s a worldwide issue. In 2016, social media influencer, Essena O’Neill announced that she no longer wanted to use social media for good.
O’Neill stated under her Youtube video, “I can’t tell you how free I feel without social media. Never again will I let a number define me. It suffocated me. Not because I had 500,000 followers, I felt the same as a young girl, I would just spend hours looking at everyone else’s perfect lives and I strived to make mine look just as good…”
Since then, all of her social media sites including, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube have all been inactive.
“Instagram is not the full story,” said Jaycie Keylon, a sophomore pharmacy major. “I think life without social media would be kind of scary. You would have to get to know a person without looking on your phone.”
Conaway said that Instagram won’t be going anywhere anytime soon and if it does, something will always replace it.