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Feeling Enough: The Toxicity of the Instagram Explore Page

Scrolling through Instagram can be mind-numbing and soul-draining if you aren't in the right mindset. We scroll through the Instagram explore page looking for beauty and self-care inspiration but it can be a predator in its own right. It preys on self-worth. It shows you things that make you feel like you aren't good enough, pretty enough, motivated enough, driven enough or ENOUGH in general. Your feed is made of people with similar lifestyles and socioeconomic class as you (some celebrities and influencers have made their way on to your feed under your discretion). These people at least share one thing in common with you. But the explore page can also feature people the same age as you getting married and having their life together and vacationing and... for me, it feels like I am in the same place I was when I came to college in Fall of 2014.

This worthlessness regurgitates in me and probably other people. I want to know why.

In February, NPR published an article, Depression Strikes Today's Teen Girls Especially Hard by Patti Neighmond. She reported that depression is more commonly found in girls and no wonder, she [psychologist and author Catherine Steiner-Adair] says—"despite gains in employment, education, and salary, women and girls are still continually bombarded by media messages, dominant culture, humor and even political figures about how they look—no matter how smart, gifted, or passionate they are.” Feeling enough is how a lot of people know when they’ve found happiness – it’s important to know our own definition of happiness before we go scrolling through other people’s pages of what makes them happy or what they want us to perceive as a “happy person.” On Instagram, we are seeing the what and not the how.

TIME Health’s “Why Instagram Is the Worst Social Media for Mental Health” by Amanda MacMillan, May of this year, mentioned a survey called #StatusOfMind and published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health. The 1,479 participants of this survey were between the ages of 14 and 24. Instagram was scored “the worst social media for mental health and wellbeing.” Some studies have even shown that spending more than 2 hours a day on social media raises psychological distress. The article continued that, “Seeing friends on constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out...These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude.” 

In some ways, through some eyes, Instagram promotes and idealizes a level of unachievable perfection. We know perfection is impossible but when we look at a girl with a perfect (airbrushed) body or people our age buying luxury cars, we forget reality. We are warped into believing this supposedly candid reality which is actually an exhibit and an excerpt of what people want us to know about them. 

Sometimes we need a reminder that everyone plays pretend but we are all just trying our best. And our best, our reality, our imperfectly perfect life is enough


Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3

Senior at Montclair State University. Storyteller. Artist. Cinephile. Writer. Twitter/Instagram: @ChristlStringer
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