An amazing site... or is it

By:Priscilla Menezes

Many people think that Instagram is an amazing application, a great way to show their friends their lives… but is Instagram really as amazing as people make it out to be? Countless Instagram users turn a blind eye to the bad sides of it. This is what I am going to be talking about. Why Instagram is a bad influence on peoples lives.

Instagram is a way to unconsciously make someone feel bad about themselves. Jessica Winter from Slate claims that Instagram takes the parts of Facebook that make people feel depressed and unsatisfied with their lives, such as looking at other people's photos and friend's broadcasting how great their lives are, and accentuates them. That is very true. By looking at other peoples “perfect, fun, amazing” lives, it makes other people feel as if their lives are just boring. Two German universities showed that “passive following” on Instagram triggers states of envy and resentment in many users, with vacation photos standing out as a prime trigger. For example, if you post pictures of yourself having an amazing time in the Bahamas during winter break, other people automatically feel jealous that you are in the Bahamas while they may be stuck in a cold, snowy place. You also never know the full story. A person may post a smiling picture of herself and a friend having an amazing time, while in reality her and that friend are fighting almost every other day! People won’t post the boring, or bad parts of their lives, such as fights, and only post pictures that accentuate their perfect lives. If your Instagram feed is full of pictures of your “amazing life”, others assume that is what your life is actually like, and feel depressed about their not so perfect life. They start thinking things like “She/he is living a much better and happier life than I am living.” In reality, nobody has a perfect life, though Instagram posts may seem to make people’s lives look like that, and posting pictures about your perfect life makes other feel bad. As they say, a pictures worth a thousand words. You can write a thousand words about your amazing vacation without anyone getting too jealous, but as soon as people actually see you having an amazing time, it triggers jealousy.

People aren't okay with just having a good time anymore unless all of their Instagram followers can see the picture and validate that they had fun. People feel the compelling need to PROVE to other people that their lives are amazing, and that they had an amazing time wherever they went. Just saying “I went to Canada’s Wonderland this weekend” isn't enough for most people these days; they need to take a big group selfie or picture of them having an amazing time to prove it. The only reason people do anything anymore is to get a good picture out of it.

Many, many people that use Instagram have both followers that they know, and followers that they don’t know. People seek approval from their peers, other followers, and even followers that are complete strangers, by posting images that show how perfect their lives are. People view the number of followers and like’s on your photos as a contest nowadays, people are always questioning their friends about how many followers they have, and people are counting the number of likes. Many people seek approval from followers when they post pictures that say things such as “Like if you think I'm pretty.” Or “What would you rate me?  Cute, nice…” Other people feel compelled to like or rate the picture, and the person who posted it feels a need to know if all her peers think she’s pretty or see how they rate her.

Another thing that makes people feel bad is when others have just bought something, and decide to post a picture of it on Instagram. Peers feel bad that THEY cannot afford the expensive item that you bought. For example, if you buy a $300 TNA jacket, and post a picture of it on Instagram, it can make others feel very bad about their inability to buy those kinds of brand names simply because they cannot afford it. It can just come across bragging. Many people actually use Instagram to brag about this new expensive item they bought, or their new electronic device.

Nowadays, the types of picture people take most are “selfies”. They lower other people’s self-esteem. “A photo can very powerfully provoke immediate social comparison, and that can trigger feelings of inferiority. If you see beautiful photos of your friend on Instagram, one way to compensate is to self-present with even better photos, and then your friend sees your photos and posts even better photos, and so on. Self-promotion triggers more self-promotion, and the world on social media gets further and further from reality.” Says Hanna Krasnova of Humboldt University Berlin. She is very right. When people see their friend’s selfies, they post better ones, and the negative circle just continues. While it may seem that people have just taken a quick snapshot, and automatically come out looking perfect, that is not the case. Almost everyone that takes selfies takes numerous ones, chooses the one that makes them look best, and then spends their time afterwards filtering and preening the photo until they look perfect. Instagram gives you the option of filtering, and they have many filters that do many things such as brighten your photos, or make them tinted a light brown. People use this to their advantage, and instead of just snapping a photo, scroll through all the options and find the filter that sheds them in the best light – literally.

The slideshow seems to not be showing up. If you look at the slideshow above, you will see how many times one photo has to be edited, I used a picture of myself as an example. If you compare the original picture and the final picture, they look very different. As you can see, the picture had to be filtered 6 different times, using various applications. If nowadays, all people do is edit more and more. Someone cannot just snap a photo; they must spend time going through all the various applications to make themselves look PERFECT before posting anything. If every person posts selfies, and goes through the long editing process, imagine how much time it takes up!

Many pictures that people take can shed YOU in a bad light. Daniel Arnold, a very good photographer, spent his days walking the streets of New-York, and took random pictures of others, most of which shed these people in a bad light. His last account on Instagram had been suspended for posting pictures of nude women. You never know what other people will post about you, and many bad pictures, like nude ones, can lead to bullying. What may seem like just a picture, can cost you a job in real life. If you have a public Instagram page, and you apply for a job, the people will probably look you up online. If an Instagram page shows inappropriate pictures of yourself or just bad pictures in general, it could seriously hurt your job chances.

Many people argue that they post pictures on Instagram as a way to “express themselves”, and while that is true, many people don’t use it for expressing themselves. If you go to Niagara falls, and take a really nice picture of the scenery, or post an inspiring quote, that is one way to express yourself, but most people take pictures of things like their breakfast, or their cup of Starbucks coffee. Nobody really cares what you had for breakfast, or what type of coffee you just drank, and posting those kinds of pictures dont help you express yourself.

Something that has now become the new fad is posting pictures of your food. Imagine this (by Katie):You posted an Instagram picture of a handful of blueberries the other day. What would your day have been without those blueberries? Would you have felt a little less connected to the earth and, ultimately, yourself? Would you have felt guilty about letting all of nature’s candy go to waste? Or perhaps the real question is this: How disappointed would you have felt if your beautiful, plump blueberries got less than 15 likes? It would have made blueberry picking pretty pointless, right? But no, you are popular and people like to feel earthy and spontaneous by living vicariously through you and your blueberry-picking adventure. So people leave comments like, “Yummy. <3. Jealous!!!”" I totally agree with Katie. I mean, think about it; what has posting the picture of the blueberries added to your day, has the fact that people think they are "yummy" and that they are "jealous" and the fact you got 15 likes suddenly given you this great amount of self-confidence?

Did you know that looking at other peoples photos of food can actually make that food less enjoyable to eat? New research from Brigham Young University suggested that. As they said, "Many people simply can not start eating a meal without ensuring they have shared the experience with friends and followers" Apparently, by looking at pictures of food, it can ruin your appetite by making you feel like you have already eaten that food. The study found that overexposure to images of foods increases our sense of satiation (a drop in enjoyment associated with repeated consumption) when we actually eat those same foods. One of the study’s co-authors and BYU professor Ryan Elder explains: ‘In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food. 'It’s sensory boredom – you've kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience any more.’In one of their studies, half of the participants viewed 60 pictures of sweet foods like cake, truffles and chocolates, while the other half looked at 60 pictures of salty foods such as chips, pretzels and French fries. After rating each picture based on how appetising that food appeared, each participant finished the experiment by eating peanuts, a salty food. Participants then rated how much they enjoyed eating the peanuts.In the end, the people who had looked at the salty foods ended up enjoying the peanuts less, even though they never looked at peanuts, just at other salty foods. The researchers say the subjects were satiated on the specific sensory experience of saltiness.

On Instagram, if someone sees your picture and wants to use it, they can, because while you own the picture, you have no rights to it once it is on Instagram. When you upload an image to Instagram, it’s not just yours anymore. Ryan Pinkard said: “Instagram’s overreaching terms of use policy says that you own your images, but don’t have any right to them. Hypothetically, if McDonald’s likes the hipster-styled shot you took of their drive through sign; they can use it in an ad campaign without your consent or benefit. If I like the cute dog picture you took, I can print it on a t-shirt and sell it for my own profit.” Think about how this can affect you! A person can take a picture of you or a selfie that is posted on Instagram, and use YOUR picture for their personal benefit. With this in mind, imagine if it was an embarrassing picture, like many of the pictures Daniel Arnold posted on Instagram. Someone could use that embarrassing picture and then print it on T-shirts!

Social media also plays a huge role in girls’ and boys’ confidence. If someone says something negative on one on your pictures it can really affect a person’s self-esteem. People don’t realize the influence they have and how it can affect someone just by doing something so minor over the Internet. When girls and boys post any pictures of themselves to Instagram, people often compare them to celebrities – and not necessarily in a nice way. Girls compare themselves to celebrities, and when people comment things like “your face is uglier than (celebrity’s name)”, it makes peoples self-esteem go way down.

Instagram can be used for positive things, but there are many negative things it can be used for. One of those things is beauty contests on Instagram. How they work, is kids create "beauty grids" which are grids with pictures of them and other kids, then upload them to Instagram. They write #beautycontest, so their photo can be found. Others comment on the photos, and once a girl has a certain number of negative comments, an anonymous pageant moderator places a red “X” over her face, indicating she has been eliminated. There is no prize other than the bragging rights of remaining in the contest. Pictures can be of boys, too, but the majority are of girls.This beauty contest can be very harmful to the self-esteem of girls, because people they don't even know can post negative comments. ABC spoke with a group of teen girls who described what is like to put a picture up for review. One said, “If I just got like, one ‘X’ it would just like, ruin my self-confidence.” “What started out as just a photo-sharing site has become something really pernicious for young girls,” Rachel Simmons, author of “Odd Girl Out” and a speaker on youth and girls, told the Washington Post. “They co-opted it and imposed their social life on it to compete for attention and in a very exaggerated way.” Something that makes this even worse, is that MANY of the people doing these Instagram beauty contests are REALLY young, as young as 8 or 9 and don't even really understand the impacts of posting beauty grids! the Instagram rules say that you are not even allowed an account unless you are 13 or over! These girls base whether they think they are attractive on a complete strangers 100 character comment.

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