Yes, you read it correctly. I just asked a question on whether Instagram can improve our mental well-being and I can imagine that this sounds surprising or maybe even weird to you. Isn’t Instagram the application known to harm the self-image of teenagers? The application that makes us feel insecure, left-out or even feel unimportant. I feel pretty confident when I say social media all made us feel as such at least once, and yes that includes me as well. However, in this blog I would like to show how Instagram has changed. Or actually not how the platform has changed, but the people on it. Nowadays more people share different content on Instagram: they show real bodies, share how pictures are edited and share content on mental health awareness and support.
The Instagram we all know
We have all heard it before: Instagram is bad for our mental health. When going online and searching for information about mental health and Instagram on Google, you will quickly find tons of blogs and professionals arguing for the negative influence the online world has. Now don’t get me wrong, I will not argue that this is not true. Yes, Instagram does show an utopian image of other people’s lives and it has become difficult to tell what we see is real and what is not. Social media and apps have made it easy for people to only share the good moments in their lives, to edit pictures of themselves and to show-off with high amounts of likes, leaving people to think you are popular and well-liked. I am also not going to argue that this does not influence people like us at all, because it does. Seeing editing photos and videos of people’s lives give us the feeling other people have it better, that other people are prettier, more popular, or that other people do not experience “bad luck” or difficult times.
The turn: how Instagram can be
Despite all the negative influences social media can have on us, there is a change in our generation, and hopefully this will be continued in the generations to come. In this section I would like to share you some of my favourite Instagram accounts and posts that attempt to show life as it is. They share content on how pictures can be edited to make you believe something and share content on mental health awareness and how we can help each other. Through sharing this, I hope to give you some inspiration to check out these accounts and to see the other side of Instagram, the side that shows a more realistic world.
A selection of my favourite Instagram accounts are:
- @wetheurban: a page full with daily affirmations and quotes to motivate you.
- @howmental: their content creates mental health awareness and relatable memes.
- @letstalk.mentalhealth: aims to create awareness, to educate people and to give support.
There are plenty of accounts that aim to create awareness for mental well-being, to reveal how photos are modified, and to provide mental health support. Sometimes it feels like we are “stuck” in negative Instagram posts full of edited photos and people who want everyone to think they have an amazing life. But no worries, there is always the opportunity to go to the “real” online world.
As you address at the very start, there is a very intriguing aspect to this title. This idea goes straight against the grain of mainstream ideas on Instagram and I felt compelled to read! The greater presence of content that is inclusive, body-positive and ‘unfiltered’ demonstrates a firm shift. However, perhaps the sceptic inside me finds it hard to believe the idea that influencers’ & companies’ pursuit of this much more positive style of content is just for the benefit of the consumers of their content. Nevertheless, as a vehicle for spreading positivity, social media -and Instagram more specifically- seems able to convey a message clearly and only requires as much effort as one is willing to put in. A really interesting piece!
I will say that the flip side of this, for me at least, tends to be hours of scrolling through affirmations instead of pictures of people. This can at times leave me feeling drained after all because there is always just one more post to see and go through, that one more hit of dopamine rush before returning to “real life”.
However, I do agree with you that those affirmations can be a helpful reminder that there is more to life than the utopias we see on social media, allowing for a comforting sense of acceptance towards oneself. Although that comforting sense can be fleeting, I’ll take it where I can get it.