The author is a Mass Media Student at Mithibai College, Mumbai

With about 75 million monthly active users (MAU) in India, one thing is clear that the Instagram fascination is not getting over soon. Several pictures posted daily along with different hashtags has made people living in this world lunatic in a way.

Scrolling through the feed bombarded with perfectly edited pictures has become like a favourite pastime while one is completely ignorant of what is happening around them. The burning curiosity of knowing the lives of other individuals has made people addictive Instagram users.

A picture of a blogger on a bed full of different food items ranging from vanilla berry waffles to bacons and mushroom toast, sipping cold coffee in a 7-star hotel which gives a beautiful view of Eiffel Tower, a morning look with perfect hair and skin; makes US want to be THEM.

The problem with Instagram is that people only want to share content which shows the best version of themselves. Visuals of ‘perfect life’ has left us to be unsatisfactory with our looks, achievements, and lifestyle.

When millennials post happy travel pictures or even a small clip of them drinking shots in a party; ‘FOMO’ – Fear of Missing Out is very common to be experienced by the viewer. These feelings can promote a compare and despair attitude. Social media plays a big role in how we perceive lifestyle and hence it turns out that seeing these snapshots could actually be putting a dent in our bank account.

Sometimes millennials only go to a place if that place is ‘instagrammable.’ In fact there are various articles and blogs on the internet which mentions ‘Top 10 Instagrammable Restaurants/Rooms/Destinations etc’. Nowadays the sole reason people want to hangout with friends or family is Instagram as sadly our brain is wired with the perception to belong with the community and trend to get likes and followers which measures the popularity of an individual.

Previous studies have suggested that young people who spend more than two hours a day on social networking sites are more likely to report psychological distress. Looking at the feed full of expensive materials like clothes, cars, etc to millennials enjoying experiences like concerts, vacation at exotic places can also lead to anxiety and depression as they cannot afford it.

The photo-sharing app, which is owned by Facebook and has 700 million users worldwide, is the worst social media for mental health, while Snapchat comes a close second, according to a U.K.-wide study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). Instagram also leads to eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, a recent study of women between the ages of 18 and 25 showed a link between Instagram and increased self-objectification and body image concerns, especially among those who frequently viewed fitspiration images, exposed to unrealistic ideals of beauty, diet talk, body shaming, thinspiration, weight loss posts, and more.

Another study shows that higher Instagram usage was associated with a greater prevalence of orthorexia nervosa / anorexia symptoms, highlighting the influence social media has on psychological well-being. The perfectionism depicted by various fashionista, celebs, bloggers or any individual can lead to insecurity and depression. Loss of sleep due to browsing and scrolling on Instagram can make us feel lethargic and unproductive at work or school.

Keeping aside its drawbacks, initially released in 2010 and it now has over 800 million followers worldwide; there is no doubt that Instagram is influential, with it being called “one of the most influential social media platforms in the world”. Instagram is actually one of the most downloaded and used social media apps on the iOS store. Thus, from small start-ups to big businesses, any professional can use Instagram as it is a powerful tool to promote his or her company by targeting specific target audience and in turn strengthen and popularise their brand amongst others in the global market very conveniently. The features of instant like, comment, and share can help the company understand what their customers are looking for. It is basically a medium between the company and its target customers.

Even with the new update launched on August 2018, where the Instagram users will be able to set daily reminder to cap usage limits; is that notification making a difference to the users? Is it stopping and making us realise that we’ve consumed nothing but thrash filled with memes, appealing outfits, unrealistic beauty standards, etc.? A fool’s paradise it is.

image courtesy: pixabay

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