Social media depression is a real thing (also know as, “Why is everybody else’s life so great and why is mine so stupid and boring and lame”-itis), and it has been argued that out of all the social media networks, Instagram may very well be the most depressing, because you’re constantly being bombarded with images of other people’s filtered, cropped, and highly-curated lives.
That said, a recent study suggests a simple-but-brilliant way you can still get your Insta on without getting bummed out every time you scroll through your feed: Just stop following people you don’t know in real life.
As Tech Insider reports, researchers at Pace University conducted an online survey of 117 Instagram users between the ages of 18 and 29. These researchers found that Instagrammers who follow a higher ratio of strangers-to-friends are more likely to find themselves experiencing symptoms of depression or notice instances of negatively comparing their lives to those of the people they follow on social media. Meanwhile, Instagrammers who follow a higher ratio of friends-to-strangers did not experience significant depressive symptoms and, in fact, these people’s Instagram use was associated with positive social comparison.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why following glamorous strangers is more likely to bum a girl out than following her pals. We KNOW our friends in real life. We know what they look like unfiltered and uncropped, and we know that they’re lives aren’t squeaky clean and super-duper perfect, because we ours is the shoulder they cry on when things get rough. With strangers, be they pop stars or fashion bloggers, all we see are the perfect shots, and it’s more than a little stressful to compare one’s real life to an Instagram life and go, “Wait, is my life supposed to look like THAT? Because… it most definitely does not.” We have no context for the lives of strangers. And context is everything.
So yes, we love Taylor Swift’s #squadgoals pics and Chrissy Teigen’s food snaps as much as anyone, but if these perfect shots are stressing you out too much, you might want to go through your “following list” and uncheck those people you don’t know. These ladies will be fine, they have MILLIONS of followers. You can still love and respect these celebs. But if they’re making your Insta bummer times, then maybe they don’t belong on your feed.
Image via Tulpahn/Shutterstock