The Unrealistic Realities Of Instagram

Social media can have dangerous effects on teenagers who compare themselves to other users.


digital art by Jess Daninhirsch

Mary Marzula, Staff Writer

In today’s society, social media is one of the most important outlets for people to express themselves. There’s a lot of good that comes from it, including being able to see what your extended family is doing, connect with old friends, and post what you want. Teenagers spend a lot of time on social media, and it becomes a daily habit to check up on all of their favorite celebrities’ and influencers’ new posts.

Despite social media’s benefits, seeing all those posts also exposes teenagers to unrealistic expectations. More than 70% of teens use social media on a daily basis, meaning that this is a fairly large issue.

Instagram, in particular, has been criticized for showing users unrealistic expectations, mostly cultivated by the famous influencers on the platform. Instagram provides a place for people to post, like, comment, and express themselves. Although you may tell yourself the post you see is a part of someone’s normal day-to-day life, the majority of those posts have been edited and filtered. Everyone is always smiling and having what looks like a great time in all their post.

Social media lets you choose what you put out for the world to see, so no one is going to post about the bad stuff in their life. That’s a huge part of why social media is such an unrealistic place for people to compare themselves to others. 

Additionally, editing and filtering photos has become an essential part of posting pictures on Instagram. Whether it’s adding a filter just to enhance the colors of your picture, or even completely changing your whole body shape through photoshop, everyone does it.

Teens get so invested in likes and instant gratification on their posts that it becomes all they care about.”

Editing can be a harmless act used to make your pictures look more professional, but lately, social media influencers have taken it to another level. Smoothing, whitening, and shaping are used in celebrities’ photos, tricking young people into thinking this is a normal body. Editing creates unhealthy expectations for teens who feel they need to look a certain way. 

Comparing yourself to the influencers you follow on Instagram can lead to feelings of inadequacy about the social aspects of our lives. Although we like to think that we don’t compare ourselves to others, deep down there is competition between everyone. It’s normal for you to scroll through Instagram and think to yourself, why am I not as good as them?

Although comparing yourself to others could be motivation for you to be better, it can lead to mental health problems down the line. 

Anxiety and depression are also consequences of being too invested in your Instagram page. Teens get so invested in likes and instant gratification on their posts that it becomes all they care about. The more someone lets social media become a part of their life, the higher risk they have of developing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. 

Although social media is a great place for many of us to stay connected, it can create unrealistic expectations for young people. If you look too far into what others post, you are only going to harm yourself.