By: Esther Henriquez
Social media giant Instagram continues to grow with more than 600 million users to date and there are no signs that it’s slowing down. But with an entire generation of teens and young adults sharing their daily lives on the application, important questions have been raised about the psychological effects it has on its users.
When users are investing so much of their time on the platform, it’s worth noting that for everything posted, ‘likes’ are being generated. At this point, the lines begin to blur, and users should be careful to not get caught up living for their likes.
Though many users anxiously pine for likes and comments, likes generated on a single post don’t necessarily affect all users the same way.
Instagram user Gershona Annor (@herapatra) has seen it firsthand. The fashionista posts pictures and video-tutorials about fashion and beauty, with the occasional sponsored post in partnerships with different fashion and beauty outlets. Annor averages between 1,000 and 7,000 likes per post, but she tries to not let the need for likes influence her.
Instagram “just means business and money to me now,” she said. “I don’t let it affect my life because at the end of the day, it’s what I post. It’s what I want you to see and I don’t really care. I think that’s what gets me a lot of likes – it’s because I don’t care that much.”
Research has found that people’s feeds reflect their moods and behaviours. In a joint study conducted by Harvard University and the University of Vermont, 43,950 Instagram photos were collected and gathered. The photos were analyzed for quantitative measures of colours, brightness and facial expressions, as well as more subjective assessments of happiness, sadness, likability and ‘interestingness.’ The major finding in the study was the relationship between mood and colour. As it turned out, the people who were depressed had pictures that were “bluer, greyer and darker.”
So the next time you’re scrolling through your Instagram timeline, try to think less about your filters and likes, and more about your mental health and well-being.