Instagram Addiction and Its Effects

I’ve been wanting to write a post on Instagram addiction and its effects for a while now. I’ve actually gone as far as to write up to four paragraphs on the topic but never finished it.

An article I read online on Huffington Post about Instagram influencers and how they are all starting to look the same spurred me to actually start a dialogue on the subject matter.

Before I delve into the effects of Instagram addiction, perhaps let’s clarify what addiction is, shall we?

Addiction is not just about substance abuse. You are addicted to something if you are dependent on it and or you crave it. But you don’t have to take my word for it, let’s see how Merriam Webster defines addiction; ‘an unusually great interest in something or a need to have something’.

This makes me and probably millions of people out there Instagram addicts.

Here are 12 ways to spot if you’re an Instagram addict
  1. The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is to reach for your phone and scroll through and like pictures on Instagram
  2.  You spend more than 30 seconds thinking of the perfect caption to accompany your posts
  3. You obsess about the number of likes you get or don’t get on each post you share
  4. You send a picture to your friend/s asking “can I post this?” or “which of these pictures is the best for Instagram”
  5. Midway through a conversation with someone, you check your Instagram
  6. You get unduly excited when an influencer you like and follow, follows you back
  7. You can’t go on vacation without sharing it on Instagram
  8. You find out about current affairs on Instagram. If it’s not on Instagram, it doesn’t exist
  9.  When you’re out, you spend more time posting Instastories than you do enjoying the moment
  10. You are on Instagram more than twice a week
  11. All your “styleinspo” is straight from the gram
  12. You check your Instagram feed before you go to bed at night

I think we’ve all heard people saying “Instagram is not reality” or “I do it for the gram”, enough to know that what you see isn’t always what it seems. But none of that matters because we all seem to want that perfect Instagram life. Everyone aspires to be an influencer at every cost and Instagram makes it look so easy that even people with regular jobs or entrepreneurs in some way seek to be influencers. They spend hours trying to craft the perfect caption, some even go as far as to buy Instagram followers in the hopes of getting noticed by brands and becoming an influencer.

The effects of Instagram addiction

Instagram itself is a great app. It was originally created as a medium to share photos more easily. The stylistic photo filters with polaroid effects were created for fun and nostalgic purposes in 2010.

Fast-forward 8 years later, Instagram has now become a marketing platform for brands. Everything from tech, beauty, fashion and food is constantly being marketed to you on Instagram. This has given rise to what we now term Instagram influencers who punt brand products for a fee.

My following on Instagram is predominantly fashion and style based which means I see hundreds of clothing brands daily, some of them are not by choice. And so the more I see, the more I want to buy.

But let’s just pause on that for a second and list out the effects of Instagram addiction

  1. Lack of originality

Let’s be real, all the millions of bloggers and vloggers out there kind of do the same thing. There’s this makeup challenge that all the beauty Vloggers are currently doing “I tried following (insert Youtuber with more subscribers) makeup tutorial”. The content is the same, the influencers are even starting to look the same. What they wear, makeup brands they use, perfume set – everything is the same! Think about your make up wearing habits. Does it involve lashes, eyebrows, contouring, highlighter, baking? If you answered yes to any of these then you are no different from me or the millions of other women out there who go on Instagram and Youtube for beauty trends. Where is the originality, people?!

   2. Depression

According to the Royal Society for Public Health found on, Instagram is the most detrimental social network for young people’s mental health. The report goes on to highlight a quote from the author, Matt Keracher “Instagram draws young women to compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and photoshopped versions of reality”. It’s no wonder people are depressed. When you see enough of these perfectly curated, unrealistic photos on your feed, it affects the psyche, contributes to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

3. The upsurge of plastic surgery

Not that plastic surgery is a bad thing if you’re doing it for the right reasons but thanks to Instagram, this feeling of inadequacy has resulted in more and more people wanting to get plastic surgery. Thick/pouty/DSL (dick sucking lips) has always been a common feature among black people. Something some have even felt ashamed of because big lips were considered ugly. Especially when you compare it to that of a Caucasian’s which is commonly small and thin. Now, all of a sudden big/pouty/DSL has become popular thanks to Kylie Jenner and the Kardashian clan. So much so that women are willing to inject their lips for the perfect pout. Same with breast and butt implants, particularly butt implants. So, you have to ask yourself the question, to what end?

4. Discontent

This addiction to Instagram generally causes discontent and dissatisfaction among many women. Hatred, jealousy, anger are just a few of the emotions it promotes. Instead of loving and appreciating what you have, you end up coveting someone else’s life. If only my husband was like Patricia Bright’s. I wish I was as successful as Bonang Matheba. I wish I could be as beautiful as Ms. Fawwie. Why are you wishing for someone else’s life? Do you know what goes on behind closed doors? If you did, you may likely reconsider your wish. Instagram is not reality, why not focus on reality?

I’m not here all high and mighty thinking I am better than anyone or that I too don’t exhibit symptoms of an Instagram addict. I won’t even say that I have the cure for this addiction because I too have a predilection for the gram. What I do want to highlight, however, is that there is a problem and we have to be careful we don’t go too deep into the rabbit hole.

As a blogger, I tell myself I have to buy this and that for the blog or I have to go on Instagram every day. The reality is that I don’t have to but I make those excuses. But I’m only lying to myself and in turn hurting myself because I keep wanting to buy and acquire more. I have more clothes and “things” than I know how to style.

Instagram like most social media apps contribute hugely to unhappiness but it also has its merits like raising awareness to issues. But, if Instagram causes you to covet someone else’s life, spend more money than you need to, waste precious time instead of being productive then you may want to admit that you’re an addict. And you know what they say, the first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem.

Read Instagram Influencers are all starting to look the same here.

Cover Image Clockwise: Bonang Matheba, Ozinna, Alexandra Lapp and yours truly.

Images – Sourced.

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