Despite my best efforts to curate a feed free of junk and harmful content Instagram recommends me much content on a regular basis, usually in the form of ads. I just wanna see how my friends are and maybe see my favourite band post or watch a cute video of a cat not buy weight supplements or workout programs it makes me feel horrible.
I am transgender, and Instagram/Facebook/YouTube frequently show me transphobic content from people like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson. I also find transphobic jokes on non-political pages such as meme or fitness pages, and the comment sections are full of hatred. This makes it really hard to block out this content, because the ones that post it do not appear as transphobic from their usual posts. I often browse Instagram as I wake up, and seeing hateful comments ruins my day before I’ve even got out of bed.
My daughter, now 19 began restricting her food intake at the age of 11. We were quick to notice taking her to the GP. Things escalated with her losing weight rapidly even though we were watching and monitoring her. She had been using social media, specifically pro-anorexia sites which then showed her extreme exercise and dieting sites along with self harm and suicide. She was lucky to be referred to CAMHS aged 12 due to low weight and prescribed antidepressants which she is still using today. Instagram/Facebook played a big role helping her with the tools. She attempted suicide twice, taking an overdose and trying to jump from a car on a dual carriageway. She will always have this knowledge, no 12 year old should know exactly how much fat and calories are in any food.
I’m not technically “young people” anymore but I’m a millenial with adhd and mental health issues and instagram can be so problematic for me. I like instagram and social media when it is about connecting with communities in a positive way. Tiktok literally diagnosed my adhd, the algorithms saw what no one else had even bothered to look for for 34 years. But lately it feels like instagram is trying to depress me. It brings up far too many triggering videos about suicide and mental health and eating disorders. And so many negative posts about adhders and how bad we are at everything apparently. The content is so unbalanced I often have to delete the app and fight my adhd impulses to not download it again. It’s a viscous circle of wanting to be a part of something that can be an amazing community of help and advice but also seems hell bent on making my newsfeed full of way too much misery. I never see posts from my friends, and rarely see ones about my hobbies or interests. I search and follow food pages, music venues, roller derby teams, bands, events, festivals, museums, art pages, tattoo content, sewing content, book pages, board gaming and funny animal videos that my daughter likes…but still reels and any scrolling time is way too heavy on the “you have adhd and have previously been depressed, oh and look, suicide posts and bulimia and ptst and surviving narcissistic abuse content and have some random news page and a clip of a russian mp threatening to nuke the uk.” It feels weirdly intentional at times. I can’t even imagine having to navigate all of this in my teens.
I used to be on Pinterest, until it started giving me unsolicited posts about self harm. As a person who has struggled with self harm in the past I was upset they were showing me images of self harm without me wanting them.
My mental health is always worse after doom scrolling. I follow accounts to help improve my mental health but I always end up feeling worse as I only ever seem to see negative posts that only make me feel worse about my situation.
Even though I have tried to stop preferences and ads for weight loss or fitness motivation, these posts consistently appear on my Instagram reels and on the discover page, as well as heavily filtered/edited pictures and videos. It’s harmful because as someone who has had an eating disorder, it brings back painful memories and thoughts.
Instagram can either be amazing or it can be the worst place to be. I feel like I’ve gotten to a really good place at the moment with my feed – that being, I follow people with diverse stories, bodies, backgrounds, and views. I think that unless you make a conscious change to diversify your feed then you’ll always be stuck somewhere that’s negative. I have always had a negative view about my body, and the people I was following on Instagram helped me stay in the ‘wishing my body looked better’ mindset. It was horrible. I was always comparing myself to other people, and they also may have digitally altered their bodies, which makes this a while lot worse as people cannot live up to these LITERALLY unreal standards. I’m an image editor, so I have the resources and the knowledge to alter my appearance, and I’m ashamed to say that I used to in the past. But now, I follow incredible accounts on Instagram that encourage me to be truly me, they show themselves as they are and it makes me want to do the same, and I’m trying my best to do so. I encourage people to show up as they are, and that filters are just not needed, nor is altering your body digitally – your wonderful self is the best version of you!
Instagram can make people feel pressured to look perfect. I see less content from friends and more adverts. I went on holiday recently and noticed my girlfriend wanted to try things she had seen in Instagram and tik tok videos, and try to make our trip look just like theirs for photos.
Instagram can be so toxic! The amount of hateful comments towards the LGBTQIA community is disgusting to witness. It has an awful impact on my own mental health and I need time out from it.