Social Media Influencers Mental Health: How Instagram Takes a Toll

Last Updated: May 23, 2022
Social media influencers mental health – what does it look like? Well, it’s not good.
How Instagram Takes a Toll on Influencers’ Brains
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Social media influencers mental health – what does it look like?

Well, it’s not good.

Alexandra Mondalek, like a lot of 24-year-olds, obsesses over her social media. She is based in New York, as a fashion reporter, and her fashion-focused Instagram account is growing in followers. It is sitting at a little over 1000 followers, and it is all that is on her mind.

She isn’t making any money from it just yet, but she is wondering if she can reach influencer status at some point if she keeps it up.

She says that she has been putting too much emphasis on who is viewing her Instagram. She began her Instagram by posting images of free gifts that she would get from PR teams and designers and hoped that this would increase her following.

Soon after, she said that she would start to worry about how her post was performing instead of making important calls. She felt a certain pressure to create a brand of herself, and there was a lot of anxiety that came with this.

This led her to deciding to quit Instagram in 2017. She lasted for nine months, and she said that during those nine months, she felt better than ever.

She explained that she didn’t feel like she had to produce perfect content all the time. However, after those nine months, Mondalek decided to quit her fashion reporting job, and work freelance.

She thought that she needed to re-join Instagram so that she could keep up with work connections. Now, she says that she’s back to avoiding work projects by scrolling through her feed.

She also explains that when she looks at the explore page on Instagram, she can’t help but compare herself to what she sees.

She’s always thinking that somebody is buying something that she can’t buy or making a connection that she hasn’t made yet.

Social Media Influncers Mental Health

This might seem like a one-off anecdote, but it’s not. In late 2018, Instagram had 1 billion people using the app around the world, half of whom use the platform to upload content every day.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are a lot more likely to use Instagram than individuals over 34, and recent research has pulled the lid back on some scary information about how Instagram can impact our mental health.

Compared to other social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, Instagram appears to have more of a negative effect on our brains, especially when it comes to how we compare ourselves to everybody else.

The study also found that the more time people spent on Instagram, the more anxious and depressed they ended up feeling.

The author of the study, Danielle Wagstaff, explains that people naturally compare themselves to others because it helps us work out where we stand socially.

She thinks that Instagram is confusing when it comes to the social comparison radar. We are consistently trying to work out if we are more or less smart, attractive, or successful than everyone else.

Imagine if you are attempting to make Instagram your job full time. There are people out there called Instagram influencers who make their living off social media by using personal images to market products for brands through filtered photos, and they are part of an industry that is growing every day.

A lot of the time, influencers receive free payment or merchandise for this type of work.

Jenn Haskins, who owns a beauty brand on Instagram with more than 25,000 followers, says that she can make roughly around $250 per photo.

She says it depends on the details of the contract, as well as the project and the budget that the brands got, but she says that a good way to calculate how much you can earn per post is by roughly charging $100 per 10,000 Instagram followers.

For other kinds of content, like a video, she can charge anywhere between $50 and $100 for an hour for her time.

However, turning Instagram into a reliable source of income is a challenging, time-consuming process, and it can take a serious mental toll.

A lot of the influencers that have been talked to about this have said that they felt trapped by a disingenuous identity.

They often talked about how they weren’t able to put their laptop or phone down, saying that they were constantly online.

If you want to be an Instagram influencer, you need to be interacting with your audience at all times, which means that taking a break is considered out of the question.

Lestraundra Alfred runs a number of different fitness accounts on Instagram that are popular, and when you combine them, she has around 13,000 followers.

Back in the day, it was considered successful if you had 40,000 Instagram followers, but these days, there’s a whole host of micro influencers that are being chased by brands for marketing deals.

Alfred works a day job as a social media coordinator and interestingly, her feed isn’t full of filtered photos. She says that she has a goal to provide her audience with real content, but even this keeps her tied to Instagram and the pressure that comes with it.

She explains that recently, she has felt burnt out, uninspired, and like she wasn’t giving her followers content that she really felt passionate about.

This is when she decided to take a break for two weeks. Signing off of Instagram is risky financially, but she says that she doesn’t care.

What happened during her time away surprised her; her followers reached out to her to tell her that they missed her.

Instagram

This made her want to come back. Wagstaff can understand why Alfred’s content is appealing. One of her colleagues found that looking at content from strangers producers a lot more anxiety than looking at feeds from people that you know, or people who you can relate to.

A study found that keeping your Instagram feed realistic is one of the best ways to fight the negative mental health effects that the platform has.

This is especially true when it comes to beauty and fitness content, which can be most triggering when it comes to people’s self confidence levels.

However, influencers like Haskins say that they feel in the middle of a rock and a hard place when it comes to their need to produce a feed that is beautiful, and their desire to be genuine with their audience.

She says that she is aware of the consequences of posting filtered images for her audience, but how much money she earns on Instagram also depends on this.

The long-term effects of people using social media is still unknown, but Wagstaff notes that the consequences are relatively similar to what has been shared in the media for the past decade, it is just a new format.

The images that we see in magazines have always been harmful to our self-confidence, because they don’t represent the average person’s body. For now, she says that it is important to remember that Instagram doesn’t reflect reality.

Instagram and Facebook recently rolled out a new program so that they could offer users statistics on how much they are using the platform.

Your activity dashboard is going to show the average amount of time that you spend on the platform every day, and even allows the user to send notifications to remind them to take a break. However, even with a feature like this, Instagram can be difficult to turn off, and this is intentional.

The platform has literally been built to be addictive.

Alfred explains that her strategy for managing her mental health is to unfollow something that makes her feel negative. Haskins feels the same way.

She says that she doesn’t watch specific YouTube videos anymore, because she would watch them and then she’d feel like she needed to rush out and purchase products.

Mondalek has turned off her notifications. Despite the negative impact of Instagram none of the three women say that they plan on quitting the app in the future.

Instagram has created an entire industry that they are benefiting from, and they have made good friends through the platform.

Haskins says that the fact that Instagram exists means that she can quit her day job and make money on her terms.

Sources

Yahoo Statista APA PsycNet
ResearchGatePubMedSAGE Journals
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Written by Jason Wise

Hi! I’m Jason. I tend to gravitate towards business and technology topics, with a deep interest in social media, privacy and crypto. I enjoy testing and reviewing products, so you’ll see a lot of that by me here on EarthWeb.