• Naomi Desai

Instagram’s Illusions



Instagram has never been an enjoyable experience for me. I get anxious when posting something and am embarrassed after I do. The app is a parasite that sucks away my confidence and leaves me ashamed, yet I continue to check my account and “Explore” page multiple times a day.


On Instagram, everyone tries to promote themselves and appear more enviable to their peers. While the app can be a place to see what friends are up to, it also tricks us into only seeing an illusion of what people’s lives are like. Everyone has a parallel self on Instagram, and it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s fake.


Ryan Nelsen, a sophomore Communications Design student, shares this sentiment.


“In high school, I had an [art] account that accumulated 11,000 followers, but the pressure to maintain the success I had while venturing into new art styles became too overwhelming,” Nelsen states. ”The most difficult part of this was not deleting the account, but explaining why I did it, which I still can’t fully articulate.”


Most of us joined Instagram expecting it to be casual, but now it has evolved into something completely different. The documentary “The Social Dilemma” makes the problems of social media, and their influence on mental health, evident. The documentary states that in girls ages 15-19, the suicide rate has increased by 70% since Instagram was created.


Despite this, we still continue to ignore social media’s problems because it “keeps us connected.” The cost is higher than the benefit. Instagram is too time-consuming for something that doesn’t even help us. The social interaction part is so minimal compared to the negative side effects it causes.


Nelsen comes from a different perspective and thinks that “the idea of sharing something to a ton of people feels . . . powerful and optimistic.” He says that it’s not about creating a “parallel self” online; rather, it’s more about “vibes that reflect who you are rather than recreate who you are.”


The isolation and loneliness of the pandemic made me realize that you can’t tell what someone’s true personality is online. Instagram puts a filter on people literally and figuratively, so much so that it's almost impossible to tell what’s real and what’s an illusion.


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Art by Wren Edwards