Instagram & Self-Perception


My phone is the last thing I see before I go to sleep at night and the first thing I see in the morning.

I don’t think anyone really realizes how consumed we’ve been by social media over the last 12 years since Facebook took over the Internet in 2004. Since then, we have seen the creation of Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Most of these media create a pressure on us to show off our best selves. Through Facebook, we can stay connected with friends and family, in addition to posting pictures and statuses of our adventures and achievements.

Instagram, especially, has created a whole new kind of pressure on people. A psychology blog posted about a friend wProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presetho had deleted her Instagram because she felt the pressures to post the perfect picture were slowly making her more depressed.  I believe a lot of people can relate to these feelings. Instagram has bred a new breed of social media monster in which millions of people post hundreds of photos in the hopes that their photo will reach double digit numbers, and their follower numbers will reach the hundreds or thousands.

There are countless examples of how Instagram especially has created a new lens for people to display their “best self” – literally. With Instagram’s many filters and countless other editing apps, it’s no wonder that people’s self-perceptions are altered, thus impacting their mental health. According to McCain et al. (2016) who have cited a study stating that there are about one million selfies taken and shared each day. Some argue that this is an exercise in narcissism; others will say that selfies are a way for people to show their confidence to the world. Whatever the arguments are in terms of selfies, it can’t be denied that selfies do make us feel better about ourselves.

This selfie behaviour is a phenomenon that never existed in our parents’ or grandparents’ time. Selfies are a direct result of social media and too much time on our hands. According to the study mentioned above more than half of Millennials have taken and posted a selfie to their respective social media outlets.

My Instagram alone is mostly comprised of selfies, something which I’m not necessarily proud of, but neither is it something I’ll deny. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve told whoever I am having dinner or coffee with to sit back a little or move their hand out of the way while I take the perfect overhead “foodie” shot of our meals for my Instagram. After dinner I will put my photos through the mother of all filters just to achieve the “perfect” picture.

Who defines what is a perfect picture? These are questions which I, or anyone else for that matter, have yet to find the answer to but when/if I ever do, I will probably post a selfie about it.


Placencia, M. E. , Lower A. & Powell, H. 2016. Complimenting Behaviour on Facebook. Pragmatics & Society, 7(3), 339-365. 10.1075/ps.7.3.01pla

McCain, J. L.,Borg, Z. G., Rothenberg, A. H., Churillo, K. M., Weiler, P., & Campbell, W. K. December 13, 2015. Personality and selfies: Narcissism and the Dark Triad. Computers in Human Behavior, 64, 126-133. 10.1016/j.chb.2016.06.050.



One thought on “Instagram & Self-Perception

  1. I love this post. I think you did an excellent job explaining what most of us think when it comes to posting pictures on Instagram, but no one wants to admit it.

    I think the what defines a perfect picture is something that makes you happy and it doesn’t have to necessarily be the best quality or trendiest photo. My favourite thing to do sometimes is look at my first Instagram’s I ever posted and it is funny to see how my style has changed. I think it is really easy to over think how you should post an Instagram and I think people should challenge themselves to try and do it more in the moment and not always worry about how many likes they could get.


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