“When I scroll through the Instagram feed, I’m just getting depressed,” a friend recently told me. “Nobody can bear that, how great the life of the others is, while you cannot handle yourself …” Like my friend, many people seem to feel that way. While daily freshly called Instagramers click on the filters that make a piece of pseudo-art even from the lousiest phone photo, others increasingly refuse the flood of images or scroll with growing unwillingness through the feed.
But why? We are used to the fact that life is after us, that everything – that is, everything – from the deodorant to the Microsoft interface – is personalized. And the social media feed should suddenly stop, and we are exposed to the uncomfortable, unwanted flood of images? That’s rubbish! If we do not want to see Kim Kardashian´s Duckfaces, we can escape. Remember the gym pictures of the gorgeous ex-classmate yourself of failed diet attempts? Do the photos of the trips around the world that our colleagues publish satisfy us or only fill us with envy? If so, kick them out of your feed. Nobody is forced to look at it. If you have not seen it, you might even feel better.
The psychological dimension is real. During my research, I found countless articles about the perceived and real impact of social media on the psyche of children, adolescents, and adults. If you want documents, follow these links:
- Psychology Today, “Just innocent Instagram” / “Instagram and the development of social skills”
- Business Insider “Psychology of why Instagram is addictive”
- Wired “Was verraten Instagram Posts über unsere Psyche”
- Time „Why Instagram Is the Worst Social Media for Mental Health“
And these are just the page 1 results.
Meanwhile, an entire industry has emerged around Instagram with protagonists (the so-called influencers), museums and their own apartments. In their totality they do nothing but pretend to us how great, worthy of imitation and how wonderful their lives are. Who is depressed by this, is not alone. But your suffering is treatable.
According to the German Duden, the curator is a (Austrian legal language, otherwise outdated) guardian, the trustee of a foundation or similar, an official at a university that manages the assets and performs legal transactions, or known the (scientific) director of a museum, a zoological collection, an exhibition, etc. Just as the curator is master of the situation, so we can also become that as a mature Instagrammer. No one is at the mercy of the influencers and their fantastic lives. If we are more overwhelmed than animated, we can simply unsubscribe. To punish them with disrespect and to withdraw us from their influence.
The much-talked-about echo chambers, which are fueled by algorithms and often viciously devoured, also have something good in the end: We can determine what we see, what we expect and what makes us happy. Why do we leave the sovereignty over our peace of mind to others? Let’s follow the funny people, who do not take themselves seriously like Celest Barber or follow Bodyposipanda, who stands for Bodypositivity, or the numerous illustrators, graphic designers and installation artists, who enhance our view of the world alike – without moral index finger or mental discomfort. Here are a few personal recommendations:
- Little coffee stories https://www.instagram.com/cuordicarciofo/
- Miniature Life https://www.instagram.com/tanaka_tatsuya/
- Overheard and sketched https://www.instagram.com/love.kram/
- Pantone-Project https://www.instagram.com/tinypmsmatch/
- Synesthesia-Project https://www.instagram.com/5ftinf/
We do not need warnings that this is an advertisement, nor a label that Photoshop filters are used, but a basic media literacy that, after years of bombardment, has taught us to separate ads from information, to switch if the ad block comes in or to turn on Netflix. The times of “you must have seen that” in the office coffee kitchen or FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) are actually * over in a pluralistic society where everything is on demand / personalized and individualized. Let us make use of the isolation, the echo chambers and the myriad of offers and determine for ourselves what we see and what helps us.
The only thing that should worry us all is that although I have found innumerable sources on echo chambers, Instagram envy, and influencer power, I have not found one article recommending “Just UN-Follow”. But I met countless rants of dropouts and objectors who demand age limits, labels and warnings by state authorities.
What I see in these demands is the frustration of sheep like users colliding with new types of media. Since I prefer keeping it with Kant, who had no idea of social media, but heartily pleaded not to let others think for yourselves: Take over as a mature person, become the empowered curator of your Instagram feed!
* Actually: Because one can assume that FOMO, despite all the plurality and individuality or just because of this is a real fear that drives people around.
** Wonder what the book in the header pic is about? Read this.