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The issue with Instagram

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Social media has long been criticised for damaging our self-confidence, but recently the focus has turned almost exclusively towards the inauthenticity of Instagram.

Death threats and online abuse aren’t what you’d expect to receive after posting a picture on your Instagram feed.

Yet Instagram model Scarlett London was recently bombarded with thousands of malicious messages following a post of her sitting in bed alongside some (admittedly dodgy-looking) pancakes. The less harmless of messages scoff at these by arguing that folding up a packet of tortillas, pretending they’re pancakes, and then taking a picture next to them is simply ridiculous.

However, other comments are far more serious with some even containing death threats. More shockingly, according to London, some of these comments were not from the 'usual' anonymous trolls, but working adult professionals including MP’s, journalists and broadcasters.To me, such open derision of a blogger’s harmless Instagram post is far more shameful than misrepresenting tortillas as pancakes.

Of course, many have argued that it is not the picture that really matters but the meaning behind it; the blatant staging of a ‘positive’ morning routine acts as an example of Instagram as a ‘ridiculous lie-factory’ which deteriorates the self-esteem of its users. This argument is reinforced by a recent study of 14-24 year-olds, frequently argued to be the most impressionable age group online, who identified Instagram as posing the most threat to mental health.

These findings act as just one example amongst a multitude of studies with the similar results. Consequently, social media companies are being placed under mounting pressure to alter the experience they provide to users, in an attempt to combat the mental health issues which can result from using them

In my opinion, these calls are completely justified.

There’s no doubt that Instagram as a whole is toxic, and its unrelenting display of pretty pictures and photoshopped faces inevitably accentuate each individual’s own insecurities. However, to single out London’s post seems completely unreasonable. Since the backlash, London has rightly argued that the application ‘isn’t a place of reality’. She continues to justify her post by stating that her account is an ‘outlet to show you can be positive and have fun with life.’ Here, London herself is admitting that the pictures she posts aren’t always representative of her real-life routine and actions.

Instead, she tries to inject some positivity and fun into her feed and I find it difficult to take issue with this; after all, who wants to post pictures of their bed hair, the zit under their chin, or the bland breakfast bar they ate on the way to work?

I don’t blame Scarlett for wanting to upload more exciting images, and she should be free to do this without abuse. The sooner Instagram’s superficiality is recognised, the better.

By taking it too seriously, you’ll never stop envying the appearance of others or being overwhelmed with jealousy by a nicer house, a tastier-looking breakfast, a busier day or a better holiday than yours. Equally, if you don’t agree with the swarms of Instagram bloggers uploading flawless images every day, then I implore you to delete it and feel safe in the knowledge that you no longer dabble in a fake, picture-perfect world. Personally, I believe Instagram is meant to be light-hearted, and see it as a platform to share pictures amongst friends. If it’s stopped feeling that way, then surely it would be better to be rid of it, at least until improvements have been made?

After all, there’s nothing worse than feeling negative about your body of lifestyle, and it’s certainly not compulsory to have an account. All in all, I can’t help but think that it’s not London who’s in the wrong here; the picture she posted wasn’t racist, homophobic, or derogatory. It’s just her sitting on a bed with a possibly empty mug and some strange looking pancakes. Whilst the image does act as an example of the fake reality that Instagram has come to commandeer, London was simply doing her job as a social influencer by posting the paid partnership shot. In my opinion, the methods she used are no different from the methods adopted in traditional advertising.

Ultimately, it must be remembered that due to one pretty picture, a real person has been the subject of a vicious hate campaign across social media. 

Lead image: Pixabay

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