It’s 7.45pm and I’m sitting on the MRT homewards. I take a moment to study my fellow commuters, noticing how everyone is silent, their faces bathed in a cold blue hue illuminated by their phones. I, the only non-blue-faced commuter, begin to feel left out, so I dig deep into my pocket and grab my American designed, Taiwanese built phone. Because how else is a true-blue, red-blooded millennial like me going to escape the mundanity of an evening commute? Instagram of course!
As I thumb through the endless gigabytes of content, my brief euphoria of escapism fades away and I come to a realisation…that the people of the “Insta-realm” are just as bad as people in real life, or I seriously need to examine my life.
What may seem like “harmless good fun” on the outside is actually far more sinister once you look beyond the screen protected surface. Studies show that getting more likes or followers on Instagram results in a “psychological high” whereby the brain reacts to positive interactions on social media by releasing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine creates feelings of bliss and happiness, resulting in a never-ending cycle of reward that your body ends up constantly craving. Apparently you get a similar feeling from eating chocolate or winning large sums of money. So, yes, you really can get addicted to Instagram.
And these are the five reasons why I don’t like Instagram…
TOO MANY HASHTAGS
#firstworldproblem #me #nofilter #love #blessed #picoftheday #teamworkmakesthedreamwork #foodporn #hashtag #winning #squadgoals
Adding a novel’s worth of hashtags in a post is just #toomuch. They are there for other users using the hashtag to find similar topics, not for you to “get creative” with them. Filling up a post with endless hashtags isn’t only distracting and #incrediblyhardtoread, but also makes the content of your post #soulless.
Do people seriously think clichéd and cheesy inspirational quotes sandwiched between cat memes and gym selfies will change the trajectory of my life? No. There’s a reason why when you type motivational posts on Google, the top result is “Annoying Posts.”
THE HUMBLE BRAGGERS
Ahh, the holy grail of Insta-BS, the classic humblebrag that tells the world how great his life is, then downplays it under the guise of humility or self-deprecating humour. Humblebragging comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes from: “Agghh! Just spilled wine on my job offer from that management consultancy firm! #bumblingthroughlife” to more rookie versions which simply include words like “weird”, “awkward” and “strange” to create that coveted sense of faux humility. Avoid at all costs!
THE FOLLOWERS VS FOLLOWING GAME
It seems you can’t swing a dead cat in this town without hitting a social influencer or an “Insta-celeb” of some sort. And because of this apparently acceptable career path, people are hungry for follower fame. The rising Insta-star will follow truckloads of unsuspecting victims to get as many people to follow them back as they can, only to delete everyone as soon as they get the numbers. Because heaven forbid you have less followers than you are following. It’s the ol’ switcheroo trick.
Some photos are so edited that they look like Extreme Makeover: Clown Edition. I’m not talking about cranking up the brightness or making a picture black and white. I’m talking blurred, smoothed out skin that looks like watercolour and sunsets that are so orange they look like they were taken from Mars. Trust me when I say that heavily edited posts do not make you arty, they just make you good at masking the truth.
But alas, I must admit that I am no angel myself. Multiple attempts to escape the filters, emojis and fakery of the Insta-realm have continuously ended in failure. A recent effort at going cold turkey and deactivating my account resulted in a relapse a mere three weeks later. Truly pathetic. It really is the ultimate love/hate relationship between me and the cruel mistress that is Instagram — and admit it, you have it too.