I have had an Instagram account since 2012. Seven years ago, Instagram was a relatively small community, primarily made up of photographers showing their work. Since the days of me posting “artsy” pictures of trees, Instagram has grown into a network of about 500 million users. It has also added several new features such as direct messaging, stories and live-streaming. One of the most notable Instagram updates was the introduction of advertisements.
Recently, Instagram introduced some policy changes regarding advertisements. Users who are younger than 18 will no longer be able to view posts that promote diet products and cosmetic procedures.
Instagram’s public policy manager, Emma Collins, said this is Instagram’s attempt to reduce “the pressure that people can sometimes feel as a result of social media.” As it has grown more popular, Instagram has received scrutiny for its impact on users. The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) ranked Instagram as the most negative social space for young people between the ages of 14-22.
In general, I have mixed feelings regarding Instagram. I have personally spent far too much time agonizing over the perfect picture. Scrolling through my feed, I often find myself comparing myself to others in terms of looks, life experiences and overall happiness. I have been able to carefully filter my online presence, editing out the difficult parts and creating my own, personal highlight reel.
On the other hand, Instagram has served as a platform for millions to share their stories. There are many users dedicated to sharing their unfiltered lives. I especially love the Humans of New York account for providing a raw view of the lives of everyday people. It can also be utilized as an educational tool and, in our fast-paced world, a news source.
I think Instagram culture emphasizes a larger issue within our society. Our culture strives for perfection. We want to have the perfect outfit, perfect academics and the perfect job. When we do not achieve perfection or are struggling in general, we hide it from the world.
I think Instagram’s latest policy change is a positive one and will encourage people to celebrate the natural aspects of life. Limiting ads for cosmetic procedures and diet products removes some of the pressure that pushes us towards unattainable perfection.
Hannah Martens ’20 is from Milton, Mass. Her major is English.