From Posting at Rush Hour to Over-Editing Your Pictures: Are you Using Instagram Destructively?

It is no surprise that a lot of us use Instagram for the purpose of boosting our self-esteem. Whether or not you believe this is a generalization, we have all fallen victim to this app as a means of feeling better, in one way or another. While this has been normalized, and understandably so, excessive dependency on it for such purposes can be, in many cases, destructive. This is as we become reliant on something outside of ourselves to fill up our emptiness, or, in the simplest way, feel good about ourselves. We become so obsessed about the details and technicalities, that we lose touch with the moment as we hang on to externalities that enable us to escape our realities, or perhaps embellish them. The purpose here is not to end certain behaviors, or push excessive social media users to go all out and enter deactivation mode. But it is to perhaps open your eyes to some ways you may be missing the moment in the process of capturing it. We gathered for you 10 questions to ask yourself in order to find out whether or not your use of Instagram is more destructive than it is beneficial. 

Are you making sure to post at “rush hour?”

This is a funny one. Before noon or after midnight are usually not the “best” times to post due to little engagement. Many of us will plan to post at a certain time to assert the most amount of possible likes. This reflects on the fact that we are not posting to mark our memories, but to make them known. 

Do you check who’s seen your story? 

At times we will post stories to elicit a certain impression to a certain someone, perhaps an ex or a friend we’re in a fight with. Even sometimes we’ll just fall into the trap of checking over and over again who has noticed our story, who has noticed us. Again, how lasting is that high? 

Do you have a “finsta?” 

If you have an account for only a certain group of people to have access to, then by default you are admitting that who you present on Instagram isn’t even remotely the closest representation of who you are. This is not to say that every part of you should be revealed to everyone per se, but having a separate account, in a way, reveals a certain contradiction – saying you’re someone, but hiding the “ugly” parts away.  

How many hours do you spend on the app? 

This is a very simple one. We won’t say that there is a certain hour “limit,” but every now and again it’s probably best to reflect on how much of your day you’re investing, assessing, and comparing your life to others. 

Are you obsessively stalking someone who “matters?” 

Getting over an ex, maybe? Obsessing over a fight you had with your best friend? Some of us will “resolve” this frustration by going back and forth on their profiles and ticking a few boxes. “Have they posted a picture with someone else?” “Do they look happy without me?” As fulfilling as the answers to these questions may be, as futile as they are. 

Are you overediting your pictures? 

Whether you use slimming apps or spend hours picking the right filter, contrast level, etc…whatever it is, excessive obsessions about it puts you in a place where your wellbeing hinges on the opinions of others. 

How do you feel after posting a picture with a lot of engagement? 

Do you feel accomplished? Fulfilled? This is destructive, it’s understandable, but it’s fundamentally destructive. That good feeling, after getting 200 likes, or whatever your above average is, will eventually place you somewhere where you validate yourself through others. And while it is perfectly natural to attach parts of our self-worth to the opinions of others as we engage more and more in activities that depend on that, that self-worth becomes completely theirs. 

Who do you follow on Instagram? 

While who you follow on Instagram does not necessarily directly relate to using it destructively or not, it can be telling of the connection you have with the app. So ask yourself, what am I filling my feed with? Is it constructive, meaningful content? Or is it information that will simply keep me down? This isn’t to say that following the Karsdashians, or any influencer for that matter is “wrong” by its very nature, but there should be something in our feed that is a source of some form of positivity – whatever that may be. 

Do you try to have a good follow to followers’ ratio? 

This one’s hilarious too. A lot of people can’t follow more than being followed. It’s inherently absurd, but, again, graspable. Why does it matter if you’re “popular” or not on Instagram? And why does it matter that it shows that you “care” less than being “cared for?” If it comes to a point where some of our energies are invested into making sure our profile looks good on the outside, then we are completely neglecting the inside. 

How many pictures do you take before picking one to post? 

The obsession with taking the “optimal” picture is a trap we all fall into. We pose and pose, again and again, because it is simply unacceptable to post anything less than, “perfect.” In all the ways, this takes away from actually taking a second to enjoy the setting in which this picture is being taken. 

People would rather record their lives than actually live them, and there will come a time where no amount of posts will bring back these moments we simply forget to live. As effective and fun as sharing our memories may be, we must draw the line when it interferes with our capacity to enjoy them on our own terms. And if you don’t know where to draw the line, then ask yourself, who am I doing this for? If you find yourself attaching the answer to something else, then your self worth is solely validated by the likes of others, and this is when that line ceases to exist. 

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