“I noticed that people, and young people in particular, seem to have two faces: a private face that reveals how they really feel, and a public face, which they use to present themselves to the outside world and bring to perfection on Youtube and Facebook. Only it seems like this public face is becoming increasingly important, as if putting it on has become an instinct; almost like an evolutionary development that enables people to survive in today’s society”, argued Rineke Dijkstra in 2010, which was published in “How Media Attract and Affect Youth”.
This quote emphasizes the fake attributes of people who are addicted to social media and use their “public faces” to portray their best possible qualities, while editing out their worst ones. Millennials today have numerous opportunities to bring their self-presentation to perfection by constantly editing profiles and selfies before posting and sending them. Social media offers many possibilities for positive, or negative, feedback for teens, causing either positive or negative effects on self-esteem and body image. For example, individuals take their amounts of “likes” and “followers” very seriously on Instagram.
Instagram users have an enormous amount of capability and all of the necessary tools to digitally alter themselves in the best possible way, all in the hopes of achieving the “perfect” look. Instagram serves as a platform for users to portray their “ideal selves”. The “ideal self” is a potential, future version of the real self, an idea that is impractical and naïve. As a result of the encouraged “perfect” body and “ideal self”, Instagram has become a platform for damaged and corrupted images.
Research shows that Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people’s mental health. Instagram, on top of Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, has the most negative impact on its users, most commonly among its users who are young women. It was indicated that Instagram forces its users, especially young women, to “compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and photoshopped versions of reality”, said Matt Keracher.
Sociologist Dan Slater noted that “women have been described in popular culture as ‘whimsical and inconstant, flighty and anarchistic; they can be seduced, or their resistance overcome, by stimuli or persuasion in order to achieve market penetration’”.
Instagram filters help to misguide the representation of people’s lives, which is a popular trend on Instagram nowadays. The anonymity available online also allows individuals to present their best selves, while editing and deleting negative information. Furthermore, selective self-presentation occurs when Instagram users present overwhelmingly positive information, a practice that is normative and encouraged on Instagram.
Instagram negatively affects body image, sleep patterns, and even contributes to individuals’ FOMO, or “fear of missing out”, from certain social events.