It seems millennials are living in a cultural age where image is everything.
At the end of 2014, Instagram successfully outpaced Twitter as the most active social media app. The image-sharing app boasts 300 million active users as of December 2014. And with pictures being worth a thousand words, is there any need to wonder why Instagram is outpacing Twitter and its 140-character limit?
The social currency of likes on Instagram outweighing retweets on Twitter has shifted the focus of savvy social media users. Being picture perfect is much more valuable than being a creative wordsmith. So much so, this new shift has cultivated a social environment where likes are the equivalent to peer validation and social relevancy. For some, this even means the amount of #instalikes they receive has some influence on their self-worth.
Recently, I had a friend say to me their current goal is to become an underwear model so they can be one of those people who receive thousands of likes the moment they upload a new photo to Instagram. My friend admits to the shallowness of this goal and lightheartedly expresses, if nothing else, it’s a great reason to stay fit.
Now, I don’t presume to criticize self-improvement in any shape or form. Whether it is via fitness regimes and health conscience diets, through sartorial modifications or even cosmetic surgery. Although, it would be negligent to ignore how a desire to be picture perfect can potentially postulate a warped motivation for self-improvement.
How much is nailing the perfect Instagram photo about putting your best foot forward? And how much of it is simply about getting likes to feel liked? Perhaps it’s a bit of both?
In a previous post about selfie culture, I actually agree image-sharing sites like Instagram can produce dynamic forms of digital communication. It is an awesome tool where people can share their idiosyncrasies and be all the more appreciated for doing so. I only become cautious of the phenomenon when a number of influential celebrities get busted for photoshopping Instagram photos.
What happens when the average person feels the only way to achieve their personal ideals is artificially? Should we worry for those willing to take self-improvement to the extreme just to gain popularity? When the lie seems better than the real thing, it may be time to start evaluating the psychological dependencies on public opinion perpetuated by our image-conscious culture.