Thursday, September 12, 2013

Instagram and 'The Envy Spiral'

A study conducted by German researchers at Humboldt University in Berlin suggests that the proliferation of social information available on platforms like Facebook and Instagram demonstrates a direct correlation with feelings of envy and general dissatisfaction with life. Users reported feeling "frustrated and exhausted" after using Facebook, with envy being the most frequently cited cause of these emotions.  

A high proportion reported feeling envious of peers' social mobility or status, highlighting "social upward comparison" as the root of their envy. A significant share of respondents also admitted to feeling lonely and/or isolated after using Facebook. Lack of attention in the form of likes and comments contributed to feelings of frustration over using the platform. 

Many of the symptoms reported in this study of Facebook users may be found on Instagram. The need for  affirmation and feelings of isolation, envy, social comparison, life dissatisfaction and insecurity are endemic to the Instagram  experience, which relies on users' vanities and desire to build reputations through evidentiary visual narratives. 

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