To Be Honest, Instagram’s Downfall Might Be One of the Best Things to Happen To This Generation
By Amber B. Courtney
Facebook and the other apps that it owns went out of service for a handful of hours on Oct. 4. For the 3.5 billion people using Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp worldwide, the incident caused disarray.
It appears to have caused the most response from Instagram users. I saw dozens of posts on Instagram of people sharing their opinions and concerns. Many people were sharing the fact that they didn't know that they were addicted to the app until after it went down and were entertaining the idea that Instagram might be shut down forever. Ironically, the outage happened shortly after a Whistle Blower, who we now know is Frances Haugen, came forward to expose what she claims are wrongdoings by Facebook as it relates to its users.
Is it too far-fetched to say that the end of Instagram may actually be a great thing?
Frances Haugen is the ex-product manager for Facebook. She released thousands of pages of documents and research proving Facebook's awareness of the issues it caused users, especially its teenage girl demographic. She testified before the U.S. Senate on Oct. 5 about how Facebook was fully aware of the harm its social media site Instagram caused to young children. She revealed that the company's research shows that its young users often suffer from cyber-bullying and body image issues. Not only did she have proof that Facebooks knows Instagram is damaging, but also that it has done nothing to try to solve the issue.
"The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people," Haugen said. "We still have time to act. But we must act now."
NBC reported in 2019 that there was a strong correlation between the rise of mental health issues among young adults and teenagers and the rise in popularity of social media. There was more than a 50-percent increase of those in Gen Z reporting to have depressive and anxiety symptoms and 71-percent increase of reported psychological stress. The numbers began to spike in 2011 with the emergence of social media.
Likewise, The Wall Street Journal reported that 32 percent of teenage girls reported that Instagram made them feel worse about their bodies and that a sum of teens traced their anxiety and depression back to their Instagram usage.
Given all of these negative aspects of Facebook's app, Instagram, you would think many people would refrain from ever using the app again. Logically speaking, most people don't want to be in support of a company that makes its living by depleting the self-esteem of kids. However, even with all of the controversy that Facebook is currently going through, now that Instagram is back up and running, there hasn't really been any change as far as usership. There has been no major decline in usership and the app is still just as popular as it was before any of this happened.
I find this all disheartening, especially considering that many people didn't know that they were addicted to Instagram until it went down and they had to live without it for six hours. There are so many people who have found themselves unknowingly hooked to the app. Whether it's for boosting self-esteem, gaining a career, or just mindlessly scrolling to pass time, so many people find themselves stuck in one spot for hours.
"I think people still use Instagram for reassurance and the fast attention that you can get from it," one B-CU student said.
According to research, there might be truth to that statement. LendEDU, a digital marketplace, conducted a study where they polled more than 3,700 college students and asked them what the most narcissistic social media platform was. The majority, 64 percent, answered "Instagram."
Obviously, people post for some form of validation. What other logical reason could there be to share thirst-trap bikini pictures with people who don't even know you?
Meanwhile, 78 percent of 9,477 students voted "Yes" to knowing people who will delete their Instagram posts if they don't get enough likes (how much do you want to bet that they were voting about themselves too?).
"You definitely see how it affects you," another B-CU said. "When you get a lot of likes you can feel yourself get happy, versus when a post doesn't get that much attention and you feel a little disappointed."
I am not one of those people who want to catastrophize the effects of Instagram or judge other people for being so attached to it. I, along with the vast majority of users, have all experienced falling into a cycle of dependence at one point or another, so to judge others for doing the same would be unfair.
I definitely will catch myself scrolling when I'm supposed to be focused on other tasks and posting good pictures for the sake of getting as many likes as possible. I get it.
Perhaps the real question is if a majority of people can agree that Instagram isn't the best for our mental health, why don't those majority stop using it? Is it actually addictive like a drug would be or are we really just that desperate for admiration from others?
Instagram being shut down was probably one of the best incidents to happen to Western society within the last few years. It brought a lot of awareness to a lot of people about how reliant they are on social media. I think, just like any habit, we all got sucked into Instagram like a black hole without even being consciously aware of it. I'm in full support of free-choice and the ability to make your own decisions, even if it causes harm to you.
However, I think this shutdown was a good wake-up call. I don't believe that Instagram will go down in popularity anytime soon. Likewise, I hope that perhaps its effects and negative aspects will be acknowledged more and that the hours spent on it daily will decrease to some degree.
We all could use a break from photoshopped pictures, negative comments sometimes disguised as "humor", and the unrealistic highlights of other peoples' lives while we ignore our own. I am not sure about anyone else, but I think deleting my app for a while would definitely be better than anything else.