On the last day of my board exams, five of my friends accompanied me home to celebrate our victory over the monstrosity called exam season. Even though I should have been wild with joy at the prospect of finally spending a few well-earned hours of fun with my best buds after a long month of uncompromising hard work, my mind wandered over to the Instagram account on my forgotten phone, neglected until then. It is then when I realized just how deeply Instagram has affected our lives, and like every single thing in this world, it had two sides of a coin to consider.
Children my age are deemed the common term: teenagers; not quite adults but mature enough to not be called kids. It is this age group that is most affected by this social media monster. Psychologists say that receiving “likes” on ones Instagram posts releases a chemical called dopamine in the brain, which is attributed to the sensation of pleasure. In plain terms, a like can make us smile. This is, perhaps, the reason Instagram is becoming sort of an addiction. It deludes our senses and turns us into blank minded robots, who do nothing but swipe at their sleek cellphone screens all day.
Instagram showcases an idealistic life, with people only posting about lavish holidays to sun-kissed beaches and expensive clothes snagged at the best designer showrooms in town. People are so busy trying to capture perfect pictures on their cameras that they forget to capture them in their memories. It creates unnecessary pressure to maintain an amazing feed on our already stressed heads. Instagram adds a rosy filter to the otherwise crude world, making everything seem blissful, when in fact, it is not. This is not the message that we, as children, should be learning.
On the other hand, Instagram is a platform for dreams and creativity. It provides endless opportunities for promoting one’s interests. Many businesses have moved online, the reason being; Instagram helps reduce costs by eliminating the need to rent out as physical store, providing free/cheap advertising, as well as unique ways to reach out to the general public. It becomes easier for small businesses to establish themselves in the market and showcase their products or services to a larger audience, but at a much cheaper rate. It also acts like a podium for artists of all kinds, helping them to showcase their talents and gain recognition. It increases self-confidence in people and tries to inspire a positive and encouraging community where everyone is appreciated for their talent as well as helped to refine it.
Moreover, it helps break barriers in the truest sense. I could be sitting here in the comfort of my own house, in India, while making friends in Alaska, which is all the way across the world. In that moment, our religion, race or color do not play on our minds or awaken our prejudice. Common interests bind us together and that supersedes physical or cultural borders. Instagram helps make the world smaller and less lonely and only those who have experienced the beauty of it can truly appreciate it.
That being said, personally, I feel it is pointless to argue over the true usefulness of Instagram, for it is here, it exists, and it is here to stay. Our focus should be on how we can make constructive use out of it, rather than shunning it away. Its benefits are too great to ignore and the problems are too small to lay emphasis on.
And thus, in conclusion (as in most cases), realism finds victory over both optimism and pessimism.