Causal Claim: Instagram creates unrealistic expectations for society.

Instagram is a social media entertainment application founded in 2010 that focuses on user’s ability to share photos and videos. However, the premise of Instagram has shifted from a media sharing service to world where influencers promote products, and regular people upload edited and distorted perceptions of reality. In this day and age, Instagram creates unrealistic expectations for society.

A main feature of Instagram is the home page, in which users are able to scroll through to see pictures and videos that people they “follow.” The home page is a good way to keep up with your loved ones activities, however images people post are typically of the highlights of their life. Photos can be uploaded in groups of 1 through 10, and videos can only be shared up to a minute long. By restricting users, Instagram forces picking and choosing, giving people an even further reason to only post their very best. Being bombarded by constant positivity and images of people who seem to be having the “time of their lives” can have negative effects on people viewing these images day after day. Because it does not capture all events, after consistent exposure viewers believe that other people are truly always happy, and can be concerned that they are not as well off as the rest of the world. University of Pennsylvania researcher Melissa Hunt proved this effect in her 2018 study on “Social Media, Depression and Loneliness.” She wrote, When viewing someone else’s curated life online, it’s easy to see their perfect pictures and think their lives are better than yours.”

In addition to the home page, Instagram users can go to the “explore page” (a term coined by Instagram itself) in order to look for certain people, hashtags, or brands. Instagram’s algorithm puts popular posts at the top, many of which are of models or fitness accounts. These models are often paid by companies to promote products or events, and their posts are heavily edited using tools such as Facetune, a face editing app, or VSCO, a filter app that changes lighting to appeal to the eye. In an article about Instagram models by Cosmopolitan from January 2017, author Olivia Fleming wrote, “Everyone I spoke to for this story admitted to retouching photos of themselves in some way—even if a filter was all they added.” Although this could be seen as promoting confidence, the model (literally) of perfection can lead to unsuspecting viewers questioning their own looks. The relevance of image translates to simple things such as looking in the mirror, going out with friends and feeling confident as you perform daily tasks. A healthy life begins with a positive body image, and the viewing of Instagram’s edited models makes beauty standards unattainable and wildly unrealistic.

A common argument is that social media makes the world more open and provides a connection to the world. In the words of Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, social media leads to the  “the empowerment of people.” This may be true, but at what cost? Instagram has positive aspects, such as exposure and community, but it also builds an unrealistic expectation for day-to-day life that slowly deteriorates the mindset of youth and adults alike. Is the benefit of connection worth the insecurities, loneliness and societal norms that become prevalent and destructive?

3 thoughts on “Causal Claim: Instagram creates unrealistic expectations for society.

  1. I agree with your claim, Instagram caters the content that people end up seeing in their feeds, and with the algorithms they have, what people end up seeing is most often what others deem to be popular, the unrealistic “influencers” and celebrities. People compare themselves to these unrealistic images and believe that they should be like them as well. It’s an unhealthy epidemic, and recent generations have been shown to be more and more depressed.
    [I agree with the claim that Instagram creates unrealistic expectations using the evidence that they use algorithms to promote certain kinds of posts. And I mention the fact that recent generations are more depressed than older generations.]

  2. Whether we admit it or not, we can all think of multiple positive impacts social media has had on our lives—instagram is no exception. Though it is easy to look at instagram influencers and lampoon them for setting “unrealistic expectations,” there is much good that can be done through instagram popularity. For instance, many social media influencers post workout routines and meal plans which encourages their audience to follow a healthy lifestyle. Obviously, it is well known that social media addiction and mental illness go hand in hand, but instagram users create communities that provide support and help for those in times of crisis. Instagram, in a way, is like Ohio State—it is a large group of people all interacting with each other, but because it is so large, there are a plethora of resources available. There are negative sides of course, such as social and societal pressure, but that goes with any form of group interaction. The difference is that instagram offers communities that can help users deal with problems in a healthy and safe way. Additionally, there is always the argument that instagram helps loved ones to stay in touch. Sure, we can ask ourselves “at what cost” has instagram ruined our society, but when weighing the facts, the social media platform does more good than harm.

    [I begin my argument with a direct rebuttal against the audience’s prior opinions on social media. This forces the reader to question their earlier beliefs on the topic. I then go into a qualifier which addresses arguments made in the text and a rebuttal against them. I argue directly against the claim made in the text that instagram influencers negatively impact our mental health by reasoning the fact that many influencers teach followers how to live healthy lifestyles. I then connect with the audience by comparing the positive and negative aspects of instagram to that of another large community: ohio state. I give reason and warrant for this claim with the fact that the communities’ large sizes provide an even better climate for mental health—which directly refutes the claim made in the text that instagram damages mental health. I then add further reasoning that instagram is a way loved ones can stay in touch—adding another element of pathos into the argument. Finally, I include a quote from the text and restate my claim.]

  3. I agree with your claim that Instagram is creating unrealistic expectations for society, whether it’s meaningfully or not. People only want to post the best parts about their lives, and that makes sense because why would you want the world to see you in a sad state? This indirectly causes others to assume these peoples’ lives are perfect, like you said. That with the combination of countless “influencers” and “models” who are sponsored by some low end companies providing them with products, can really affect the average person’s mind and view on life. This effect is more negative than positive most of the time. I’m not sure the best way to counter this as it does do an effective job in connecting people in the world, but something must be done.
    [I start by fully agreeing with the claim at hand. I restate the author’s part about people only posting positive things to show I’m fully in the same mindset. I then talk about self-proclaimed “influencers” and models” that are potentially indirectly bringing negative mindsets upon the casual instagram user. I finally use a call to action exclaiming something must be done about this issue at hand]

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