Instagram is one of the few apps that bring me a lot of joy. Sure, it gives me more reasons to be annoyed by friends who share too many topless photos of themselves and, sure, it frustrates me that so many people hang out without me—but I still love it. The app relies on personal creativity and branding and shows that everyone has a point of view. I love that.
Does it ever make you sad though? Apparently it can. A new study has proven it, too: the more strangers you follow may mean you are more likely to be depressed. Yes, that is serious. See—
Although most people are generally aware that Instagram is a highly curated collection of photos enhanced by filters, and not a raw portrayal of someone’s life, many users still scroll away without knowing the circumstances behind a particular image. These Instagram users end up not only negatively comparing themselves, but also doing it by unreasonable standards. Even Instagram’s UX may play a role in fostering negative feelings:
“[I]n contrast to Facebook, where connecting with other users is reciprocal (both individuals receiving status updates on each other), following someone on Instagram may only go in one direction.”
Oy. The study also says that it’s not just “strangers” but also the inner lives of celebrities provide a similar frustrating experience. What does science suggest you do? Only follow your friends. Seriously! People who surround themselves with Instagrams that make them happy are indeed happy. Who knew?!
The take away from here—Follow happy, be happy.—is one any social media person should practice. Even if they are your best friend, cut them out if their “presence” (online or off) makes you frustrated. You have to do that. It will ruin your friendship(s) and life, I guarantee.