Instagram is a social media platform that gained fame because photos are exclusively the only thing you can post to your profile. While it is awesome and amazing to have a platform where the only thing you see are photos and short video clips, Instagram can negatively impact your mental health. It impacted mine and that drove me to unfollow over 100 people.
Let’s start off with looking at my current Instagram:
I would say that my Instagram is doing okay with followers, I don’t go out of my way to try and get tons of followers so I don’t have thousands of people following me. In high school I wasn’t popular or unpopular and in college I virtually have little to no friends at all which could explain my numbers some more. I probably post once or twice a month and receive around 50 likes on average per post and maybe 1 comment per photo posted.
I read a Times article not too long ago titled “Why Instagram is the Worst Social Media for Mental Health”. Intrigued, I read it and was stunned to see how true it was for me. In the article it talks about how Instagram shows unrealistic ideals for people. The most followed people on Instagram portray a “perfect life” that all of their followers strive for. Whether their posts relate around modeling, travel, even food it shows us, the smaller accounts what we should want and what our lives should be like. We look at a picture of this tall, skinny, picturesque model and the next minute we are researching diet tips. We see people post pictures constantly of all their trips to Venice, Thailand, Paris, and we are sad because trips like that are once in a lifetime for us, while for these people it’s a weekly affair. We even see pictures posted of someone’s lunch which consists of a bowl of perfectly layered fruits, veggies, nuts, in a salad. Then we look down at our bag of Doritos and PB & J and are sad because we can’t afford to eat like that, nor do we have the skill to craft something that magnificent.
Just think about this for a second, if you saw a post on Facebook that said “Just got back from an amazing trip to Florida” would you really be jealous? Sure you might be jealous that they went on a trip, but that’s about it. Now if you see a photo posted on Instagram of a model with a perfect body, in the cutest swimsuit, in a pool with the most beautiful view, how would you feel? On Facebook, it’s just words. You just are jealous that they went on the trip. In Instagram however, you are jealous of everything. That’s because you see everything. You’re jealous that she got to go to Florida, you’re jealous that her body is perfect, you’re jealous that her hair falls perfectly on her shoulders, you’re jealous that she can afford that cute swimsuit, you’re jealous that she can afford a hotel with that kind of view, you’re jealous that she can take that good of photos. The jealousy doesn’t stop with Instagram the way it does with other platforms. Another thing to think about as well are “Finstas”. The fact that people (including myself) have to make a completely different profile to show who they really are is saddening. I do get that a lot of people also create them to hide the fact that they smoke weed from their parents, but still a lot of it is derived from wanting to only show your true self to a select few.
So why did I unfollow over 100 people? To put it as bluntly as I can, I was just sick of seeing people’s “perfect” lives as well as to rid my feed from people I didn’t care about, didn’t know, or people who just simply didn’t follow me back. In the picture of my Instagram above, I currently have 302 followers and am following 280 people. Before today, I had the same amount of followers but I followed 386 people. After reading the article I decided to first rid my Instagram of any people who’s posts made me sad about myself. These would be the models, frequent travelers, etc. Fortunately I don’t follow too many public figures so I only managed unfollowing about 12 people. I did keep about 20 famous figures’ Instagrams as followed and these would be people who post things that make me happy such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downy Jr. I even still followed some models such as Nyakim, and Winnie Harlow who both left me feeling better about myself than the stereotypical model would.
After unfollowing the famous figures I moved to unfollowing my unfollowers. I am not going to lie, I cried while doing this. Why? Because some of these people I was shocked to see that they unfollowed me. Some of these people I considered some of closest friends at one point or another, or still thought we were close enough to at least want to see photos of each other from time to time. I also unfollowed the popular kids from high school. The people who have around 2,000 followers and only follow about 100 back. Like come on, why do I want to follow someone who A. I barely know B. Doesn’t know me or C. I even hated in some cases. It’s this whole mindset that all of us have that we need to be in the “in crowd” even after high school is said in done. This group probably made up the biggest chunk for me, and it was the most freeing to do. Finally, I just unfollowed anyone with 0 posts or just is inactive on Instagram, which wasn’t hard to do.
Hopefully, by unfollowing these types of people, I won’t feel self hatred and sadness towards myself anymore. I won’t feel insignificant, and I will actually be liking photos of people who will like mine back. As a word of advice, if you are following someone who doesn’t follow you back, dump them. Especially if it is someone you thought you were close to. If they don’t see you as important enough to tap a “follow” button or even worse to tap an “unfollow” button, than they shouldn’t be important enough to you to add to their follows, likes, or comments. It’s not worth it and they don’t deserve your attention if they won’t give you any of their own.