Social media is supposedly here to help us build positive connections, but why is it making people miserable? Instagram has been named the worst social media for our mental health. More and more reports show that the photo-sharing app can adversely affect our mental health, and has been associated with high levels of anxiety and depression. The FOMO-inducing platform has become a medium, not only for our daily stories and milestones, but also for cyber-bullying. Trolls and haters attack an unassuming user’s post with unnecessary toxicity that everyone has become pressured to appear perfect online. Sometimes, even real-life bullies turn to the platform to continue their attacks virtually. It’s become so bad that even a celebrity like Selena Gomez has had to delete the app from her phone to protect her mental health.
It’s good to know, however, that after hearing about the effects of their app, Instagram has started to ramp up their efforts to fight for mental health this year. Just recently, the app has rolled out two new features to help fight cyber-bullying.
The app’s creators were not deaf to these overwhelming concerns of their users. Since last year, Instagram has been filtering out bullying in the comments and photos to make it a more inclusive space for all. Just this last May, in honour of Mental Health Awareness Month in the US, Instagram launched the #RealConvo campaign, in partnership with American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to encourage people to open up about their mental health. Aside from the awareness campaign, during the same month, the app experimented with hiding like counts. This test of theirs was well-received, as it helped prevent users from unhealthily comparing themselves to others in the app.
As part of their commitment to fight cyber-bullying, Instagram started rolling out a new AI-powered feature that notifies people when their comment might be offensive. Before users can post the said comment, the app gives them a chance to think twice and undo the comment before the recipient can receive the potentially harmful words.
In the unfortunate case that the commenter decides to go through with it, receiving users still has a way to not see such negativity. For those reluctant to block or report their bullies in fear of worse retaliation, Instagram now has a “restrict” option. The new feature allows users to control their online experience by warding off unwanted interactions without notifying them. If you decide to restrict someone, their comments on your posts would only be visible to them, and not to you and other users. They also won’t be able to see if you’re active or if you’ve seen their messages.
Social media has become such an integral part of basically everyone’s life in this age. Because we humans are social beings, our interactions on the platform, despite being online, can still greatly affect our self-esteem. With its creators now becoming more and more pro-active with these issues, hopefully, we can be a bit more comfortable in expressing ourselves online. After all, sharing our happy moments are what these are made for, right?
Next, here's why you shouldn't feel bad about taking a mental health day.