The age of narcissism

And the other negative impacts Instagram has on people's lives

The issue at hand is whether Instagram has a positive influence on people's lives. I strongly disagree with this statement because I believe that selfies are ushering our society into a narcissistic era and that Instagram crosses the gray line of stalkerism.  I also believe that Instagram can be socially isolating and Instagram devalues the art of photography.

Many people use Instagram to post selfies of themselves but these seeming innocent pictures have long term side effects, not just for individuals but our society as a whole. Selfies promote narcissism and changes the values in today's society because we now value the constant approval of our peers. Also, we painstakingly value the instant gratification we get from peers from getting more likes and followers. This creates a competitive chain, with us always trying to get more likes and followers to try and prove ourselves better than others. Even though quality of character should be used to judge someone, not their popularity on Instagram. These self-created self-portraits are proof of cultural- or at least generational- narcissism and moral decline. Selfies are all about the external validation we get from peers, taking selfies can be detrimental to a person’s mental health and that indulging in them is indicative of low self esteem, attention seeking behavior and self-indulgence. These pictures also let people show off how great their lives are, for example; a selfie with a celebrity. The viewers think their lives aren't fulfilling enough, which leads to a greater dissatisfaction about life. In actuality we don't need to put a heavy emphasis on what others think about us. Only, we need to care about how contented we are with the quality of our lives.

All these negative factors may lead to body dysmorphia. While this is an extreme case, it isn’t too far off from what goes through many of the minds of young, and even older, people as they take pictures of themselves for social media. Seeing other peoples pictures, seeing the attention they may or may not get, we end up comparing ourselves and the fine details of our looks. Overtime, an obsession builds and our looks become increasingly more important to us. For example, Danny Bowman has tried to commit suicide and has body dysmorphia because Instagram has made him feel unsatisfied with his physical appearance. Here is the link to the article that describes the negative impact that Instagram had on his life:

Cyber bullying is a recurring issue in terms of Instagram. Many people like to comment negative things; for example "Ur so ugly" onto other people's selfies, without caring about the emotional damage that might bring to someone. In a recent Oxford study, a psychology professor said that cyber bullying is particularly socially isolating because you're getting bombarded with these nasty comments that belong to these anonymous faces. You feel as if you can't reach out to anyone because you haven't a clue why these random people on Instagram seem to hate you enough to make spiteful comments on your posts.

Instagram is also profoundly addicting. You incessantly check back to see who has validated you (commented a compliment, liked, followed and etc.) This wastes your time, precious time, when you could be socializing, doing homework and etc. This is just giving you a false sense of happiness: it gives you hedonic happiness. This is the pleasure principle; the fleeting sense of happiness that leaves you whenever the high has worn off. For example, the feeling you get when you eat a particularly tasty desert. It doesn't give you eudaimonic happiness: the full engagement of life. For example, the feeling when you send quality time with your family. And no amount of hedonic happiness can make up for time that was wasted and could have been spent making others feel appeased with life.

Youtuber/Comedian/Psychology student; Lily Singh made a video, wittily depicting the photos that the majority posts on Instagram and how they're not just part of innocent self-exploration through technology. They have subtle nuances between what the photo depicts and what they want viewers to think. And below is my very own version about the obsession of documenting our lives that Instagram leads us to.

Instagram devalues the art of photography because on Instagram many people just use filters and other effects to edit their pictures to put us under the impression that they are expertised. While real photographers need to take into consideration the lighting, angle and etc to get a good photo. For example, a wildlife photographer waited for three hours on end in the snow to get a good shot of the owl. Instagram makes the acquisition and creation of a good photograph much too accessible. With the click of a button on your smartphone, nearly, anybody may acquire the façade of being a professional photographer. For example the filters make the coffee look like an old, scanned image with a vintage feel but in actuality the faded colours were added by filter. As shown by the multiple versions of the same coffee cup, which has been transformed from your daily beverage to a dentist office-worthy picture.

But even though some professional photographers do post their work on Instagram, many are also concerned with the policy that Instagram adheres to when it comes to the privacy of and rights of sharing the photos that are posted onto the application. Unknown to many, Instagram reserves the right to reproduce, reuse, and redistribute any image that users upload onto their feed. This not only creates a privacy concern, but also a financial one. This means that any photo posted onto the application may be used in advertisements and marketing campaigns both without your consent and without any sort of compensation. For example the photos that Instagram has used for this ad were taken without the consent of the photographers.

Instagram poses security issues, because it crosses the gray line of stalkerism. Selfies make it extraordinarily easy for stalkers to have a photo of you so they can impersonate you. If you use your first and last name, among other personal data on your profile you are giving stalkers the necessary information took you up and find you other social medias, like Facebook. For example, if I found an Instagram and their name said "Mark Zuckerberg", I could look them up. Thus, I would find their Facebook and etc, leading to more private information. Using the veil of anonymity, finding more information about you makes it easier to track you. For example if I posted a picture of our school hockey team winning, the stalker would immediately have an idea of where I go to school. This, thus gives them a clearer picture of where I live and etc.

Putting your Instagram on pubic enables anyone to see your posts. For example, you may want to post your wedding photos for celebratory purposes with your friends, but now anyone can scroll through your fed and view them. This makes it feel intrusive even if the photo an be viewed by anyone with Instagram.

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