16-year-old Lilli Hymowitz has lots of money and more than 20,000 followers on Instagram but struggles to live a happy life. Like many teenage girls, she deals with drama from boys and friends, divorced parents, and trying to find meaning in her life outside of the parties and selfies.
During a series of interviews with a reporter from New York Magazine, Hymowitz admitted she used Instagram to project something that didn’t match her self-image. The piece portrayed her as an embodiment of how social media creates alternate realities that can make us look more negatively at our actual realities.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, according to many studies, can increase feelings of loneliness, envy, resentment, narcissism, dependency and depression. Here are a few we studies have curated:
- In a University of Maryland study of close to 1,000 students globally, participants struggled to go 24 hours without using social media
- social media can cause distorted body image
- social media can exacerbate personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder
- unhealthy Facebook use associated with eating disorders
Because of these effects, stories like Hymowitz’s have become common. Actually, hers is tame compared to some.
Writer Alyssa Coscarelli admitted Instagram enabled unhealthy behaviors such as researching her boyfriend’s exes, procrastinating, obsessing over self-image and impulse buying.
“I’m not an image-obsessed jerk at heart, but Instagram just about turns me into one,” she wrote.
When we browse or post on social media, we are indulging in a distorted or incomplete reflection of our lives. People can post photos and comments without editing them, but #nofilter does not exist on social media.
Maybe it’s time we think about using social media in a healthier way.