Instagram’s Narcissism Problem

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When the illustrious photo-sharing app graced our smartphone technology back in 2010, no one knew what power and influence it would behold. And yet, just seven years later- it’s everywhere. You can’t escape it. Whether you see that girl over at the another table in Wagamama taking a snap of her chicken katsu curry, the various ‘gap-yah’ photos on beaches in Southeast Asia, or for some unknown reason, various walls of graffiti that have been highlighted with the Clarendon effect. Even though this is great fun, is just putting random photos on social media really as innocent as we initially think?

With all sorts of effects, the video update, the various other apps you can download to make collages and the sometimes hilarious Boomerang, you have all the power at your fingertips. Everything you need to make that perfectly lit, absurdly angled picture that’s the size of a post-it note. You’ll finally get there, you’ll finally be happy with your creation. But that’s not enough, not enough to validate how good the picture actually is.

It’s all about the likes. That tiny little heart button.

That’s what really matters. Even though it shouldn’t.

The problem with photo-sharing apps is that after a certain point, at which you gradually gain more followers- whether you know them or not, that your photos start to hit double figures. And it keeps going. And at one point you may even hit 100 likes. What an achievement. The want to share your pictures has now changed to a competition with yourself, to constantly be better than your picture before. It doesn’t matter as long as you rake in those likes.

It’s almost as if it puts your mind at ease. People like your photo, therefore they like you.

But it’s not just about the satisfaction you feel, it’s the need to be seen. For people to know what you’re doing; every time you go out, when you go on holiday to that exotic destination, the ostentatious presents you receive for your 21st birthday. Admit it, we’re all guilty of it at one point or another.

And sometimes this can be damaging. In some part of you brain, you know you’re being judged. You become aware that you may not look ‘right’. Scrolling down your popular page to see hundreds of skinny models, or diehard gym goers, where every aspect about their life makes you envious. You have to be like them. And everyone has to know about it.

That little rainbow coloured square has a hold over you. It’s not just about you sharing what you like, it’s what you think others will like. Because if they don’t, you’ll delete it.

The image that you portray online has to be different, it has to embody you. Whether that’s really you, or not. But no one else will know, they’ll just click the ‘like’ button and then scroll on to the next photo. It makes you feel good though, and so the cycle will continue. You’ll continue posting the photos you like, and if you get the notice you want, then you know it has worked.

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History student and new Features Editor for 2016/17. Consumer of chocolate, of tea and vodka, voyeur of Scandinavian crime dramas , and writer...or attempting to anyway.

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